Aug 20, 2007

Little Place called Jamaica Bay

Most of the time, the bay is where I kayak and play. I escape the city for solitude. Over time, I have noticed little things like birds and fish. Odd little creatures they are. You get a feeling that you do share space with them by observing their habits. Here is Kemp's ridley sea turtle used to be in the bay.

So, I sat down and learn a bit more about what they are; birds and fish. I am not an expert in this. I came across this US government training material from the National Conservation Center. And here is some pictures of birds commonly found in the bay. I linked many of these species to various pictures and sources notably wiki pages.

"The waters and sediments of Jamaica Bay are a highly productive and regionally significant habitat for finfish, shellfish, and wildlife. Eighty-one species of fish were found to use Jamaica Bay in a survey conducted by the National Park Service in 1985, corroborating other findings. The majority of fish collected were juveniles using the bay as a nursery area. Winter flounder (Pleuronectes americanus) was the most important commercial and recreational fish to use the bay in great numbers during all life stages; the bay is also believed to be a significant breeding area for this species. Forage fish species with high abundances, including Atlantic silverside (Menidia menidia), bay anchovy (Anchoa mitchilli), mummichog (Fundulus heteroclitus), Atlantic menhaden (Brevoortia tyrannus), and striped killifish (Fundulus majalis), form a prey base for other fish and birds that use the area. Some of the other common species found in surveys and recreational landings include scup (Stenotomus chrysops), bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix), windowpane (Scophthalmus aquosus), tautog (Tautoga onitis), weakfish (Cynoscion regalis), black sea bass (Centropristis striata), summer flounder (Paralichthys dentatus), American eel (Anguilla rostrata), and searobin (Prionotus spp.). Anadromous species that use the area include blueback herring (Alosa aestivalis), Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrhynchus), alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus), American shad (Alosa sapidissima), and striped bass (Morone saxatilis)."

I am a student of biology. I read this list of endangered species in the bay. Here is Roseat Tern as endangered species.

Federally listed endangered
Atlantic (=Kemp's) ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii)
roseate tern (Sterna dougallii)
peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus)

Federally listed threatened
loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta)
piping plover (Charadrius melodus)
seabeach amaranth (Amaranthus pumilis)

Federal species of concern(1)
diamondback terrapin (Maclemys t. terrapin)
Roland's sea-blite (Suaeda rolandii) ...........................

In addition, there are pages about the Jamaica Bay's problems from the government. They are well informed and have been documenting them over a long time.

"Jamaica Bay has been substantially altered by extensive dredging, filling, and development in and around the bay. ..... the bay receives substantial pollution from a variety of point and nonpoint sources; these include municipal waste water discharge from three plants (320 million gallons per day), combined sewer overflows, untreated storm water runoff from the roads and developed areas around the bay (including the runways at John F. Kennedy Airport which are contaminated with de-icing chemicals), leaching of contaminants from three large closed landfills (Edgemere, Fountain Avenue, and Pennsylvania Avenue landfills), atmospheric pollution, especially soot and toxic chemicals from transportation, and windblown trash; there is the added potential risk of spills due to substantial water transportation of oil and chemical products in the bay. Nutrient and high oxygen-demanding organic matter inputs result in phytoplankton blooms, low levels of light transmission, and low bottom dissolved oxygen concentrations. Present and historic inputs of toxics, including hydrocarbons (especially polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons such as napthalene) and heavy metals, have resulted in contaminated sediments ......"

I also came across this DEP Jamaica Bay Proposal online.

"These various habitats support 91 fish species, 325 species of birds and many reptile, amphibian and small mammal species. The Bay is a critical stop for birds along the Eastern Flyway migration route and has become an internationally renowned birding destination. Portions of the Bay, most notably the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, have been designated as Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitats by the federal and state governments."

I also came across a document from the Department of Environmental Conservation. What is cool about this paper is that they have satellite pictures of various islands of the bay from 1974 and 1999. This is imaging study using remote sensing techniques. I am not familiar with the techiques but I noticed that red color had dissipated during the time. From my read on wikipedia of satellite imaging, images do not record what eyes can see since they are recorded in spectral analysis including infrared to reveal material and vegetation. On to what is not cool is that they look like the receding glaciers. These pictures give me the same feelings; receding sea.

I was looking at a picture of a threatened species called seabeach Amanrath. It is 1.3 to 2.3 centimeters and threatened. It lives around the bay's beach.

Seabeach amaranth is an annual plant found on the dunes of Atlantic Ocean beaches. The stems are fleshy and pink-red or reddish, with small rounded leaves that are 1.3 to 2.5 centimeters in diameter. "

See these other colorful neighbors of the bay.


adele said...

Thanks for the information and the beautiful pictures. 20 years ago it was common to see owls by King Plaza.

SebagoCanoeClub said...

The King Plaza on Flatbush Ave?

Mary said...

Chalu, you'll be happy to know that the Piping Plover (mentioned in your post) does breed near us -- at Breezy and Riis. The Peregrines have established nests for several years on the Marine Park Bridge as well as the Jones Beach Tower. Also on the Brooklyn Bridge from time to time.

adele said...

Yes, Kings Plaza on Flatbush Ave.I know it sounds crazy but I've seen them there with my own two eyes.