Oct 19, 2010

Jamaica Bay's revival begins with mollusks

Oysters, plants cleaning the plumbing like Ty-D-Bowl

By Gary Buiso

Tuesday, October 19, 2010 8:10 PM
Troubled Jamaica Bay is going from stinky to stunning!

Pilot projects using natural water cleansers such as oysters, and improvements to the sewer system are yielding tangible results, according to a report released by the city on Monday and — more important — those who live and play along the 39-square-mile bay.

“In the past, we would observe a plume of discolored water atop Paerdegat Basin [one of the bay’s inlets], and people would be driven from their patios because of the horrendous smell,” said John Wright, a board member of the Sebago Canoe Club. “We are very pleased to see the progress.”

The bay, part of the National Park Service, borders Brooklyn, Queens and Nassau County, and includes approximately 142 square miles of meadowland, marshes, dunes and forests and open water — habitats that support 91 species of fish and 325 species of birds, reptiles, amphibians and small mammals.

Humans, such as Wright, and his 220-member club will also be the beneficiaries of a cleaner bay, but there is still a long way to go before it’s as clean as it could be.

To that end, the Department of Environmental Protection has tweaked its Jamaica Bay Watershed Protection plan, focusing on upgrades to the wastewater treatment plants that dump approximately 300 million gallons of treated wastewater in the bay every day.

That water has a high concentration of nitrogen, which results in poor water quality that allows harmful algae to thrive. The algae diminish the bay’s oxygen, killing wildlife.

The city — compelled by law by the state to do so — announced that it would invest $115 million to improve the overall water quality and mitigate marshland loss in Jamaica Bay, the bulk of the money going to the installation of new nitrogen control technologies at the four wastewater treatment plants located on the bay. The money, along with $95 million taxpayers previously committed, will reduce nitrogen in the bay by nearly 50 percent by 2020.

Agency commissioner Cas Holloway said the mayor has made the restoration of the bay “a special priority” in the effort to improve harbor water quality throughout the region.

“We are on track to achieve the goals outlined in the [plan] that will substantially improve the overall quality of the bay’s ecology,” he said.

The report notes that the city has already planted 1,000 eelgrass marine plants as part of a $350,000 pilot program to evaluate the potential for establishing small beds, which are seen as beneficial to fish and mollusks; and restored 10,000 oysters to help filter excess nutrients from the water.

Oct 16, 2010

A WNYC radio show about Jamaica Bay Oysters

New York City is the former oyster capitol of the world. There was a time when New York Harbor had over 350 square miles of oyster beds, half of the world supply. Street-side oyster vendors were as popular as hot dog carts are today. Local oysters were a delicious treat, they cleaned the waterways and they bolstered aquatic wildlife. But oysters have since disappeared from New York Harbor, mostly because of human intervention. Now, there are new efforts to reintroduce them in Jamaica Bay.

Mark Kurlansky, the author of The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell, and Jeffrey Levinton, distinguished professor of ecology and evolution at SUNY Stony Brook, visit The Brian Lehrer Show to talk about the history of oysters in New York Harbor, and plans to reintroduce them.

Listen to the whole show:
thanks to WNYC public radio

Oct 14, 2010

Jamaica Bay Oyster History

an oyster pushcart selling Jamaica Bay Oysters

Did you know that :

Canarsee Indians dug clams
and oysters west of Coney Islands in Jamaica Bay in Brooklyn and Queens. Oysters were plentiful and popular with European settlers, but by 1810, the natural beds showed signs of exhaustion. In a short time, oyster planting and cultivation became a major metropolitan industry. From 1880 to 1920, New York was the undisputed oyster capital of the United States.

for more info about Oysters and Jamaica bay go to :

Oct 13, 2010

Sebago Member Presents Program

Marcus at an earlier MKC Presentation
On October 19th, 2010, 7pm – 9pm (presentation will start promptly at 7:30pm) at the Pier 66 boathouse, Manhattan (three blocks north of Chelsea Piers, at the intersection of 26th Street and the Hudson River), Sebago Canoe Club member Marcus Demuth will present a program about his recent record setting circumnavigation of Great Britain. You can read about Marcus’ kayak adventures, paddling tips and more at his website. If you thought Marcus was only a sailor, be advised, his recent circumnavigation of Great Britain was by kayak, not laser.

Oct 12, 2010

Columbus Plus Nine

Group photo while beached on Ruffle Bar. Photo by Gary.
Nine paddlers observed the legal Columbus Day Holiday by paddling from the club house, across Jamaica Bay to the Warf Restaurant on Far Rockaway, and back.  The wind was minimal, the sky blue, and the air temperature in the low to mid 70's.  Lunch was enjoyed at the Warf.

For a fuller and only slightly biased and embellished trip report, read the post at Summit to Shore.