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Tidal Exchange: Summer 2006

If you would like to receive a hard copy of the newsletter, please send your contact information to gabriela@harborestuary.org. Also please send us an email if you have any suggestions for topics you would like to see covered in the newsletter, or if you have any questions or comments.

Note: All pictures and graphics associated with articles (as well as this publication's masthead) can be viewed in the pdf version of this newsletter. Please see the Newsletters main page for pdf downloads of this and other issues of Tidal Exchange.

Summer 2006 Issue

Harbor Estuary News Contents

EstuaryLIVE 2006
Take a Virtual Field Trip to Jamaica Bay
(Click Here)
Laura Bartovics

The Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers Univ, New Brunswick, NJ
A Resource for Research, Education, and Service
(Click Here)
Dr. J. Frederick Grassle

HEP Recognizes Recent Assistance & Contributions (Click Here)

EstuaryLive 2005 Cast & Crew (Click Here)

Going Boating This Summer? (Click Here)

The Lined Seahorse (Hippocampus erectus) (Click Here)
J.T. Boehm

EstuaryLIVE 2006
Take a Virtual Field Trip to Jamaica Bay
back to top
Laura Bartovics

September 29th is the date to mark on your calendar if you’re a teacher, an educator, a parent, or someone simply interested in visiting Jamaica Bay in a new and exciting way. All you need is a computer and an internet connection to join the NYNJ Harbor & Estuary Program for an hour-long interactive field trip at Big Egg Marsh Jamaica Bay. The live web broadcast will focus on the importance of coastal wetlands to people and nature, the disappearance of salt marshes in Jamaica Bay, and the roles we can all play in understanding and improving the health of the estuary.

By broadcasting EstuaryLIVE from Big Egg Marsh in Jamaica Bay, hundreds of young people from New York City and northern New Jersey – as well as from across the country and around the world – will have the opportunity to join local middle and high school students as they explore the estuary with scientists, resource managers, educators and community groups. As they watch the live webcast from their classrooms, students will be able to submit questions to the on-site experts, many of which will be answered on camera a few minutes later.

Jamaica Bay is an important place. To people visiting this part of Gateway National Recreation Area for the first time, the bay often feels like a stunning natural oasis worlds away from the densely populated region that we think of as metropolitan New York City. This is due in part to the protection of more than 9,000 acres of land – both dry and wet – by the National Park Service. But Jamaica Bay is also a fragile ecosystem highly influenced by the urban environment that surrounds it. Between 1994 and 1999, 220 acres of salt marsh disappeared from the bay, an average rate of 44 acres per year. The problem of salt marsh loss in Jamaica Bay is recognized as an extremely important issue by many stakeholders, including elected off icials; city, state and Federal government agencies; non-prof it and community groups; university researchers; and local citizens. Not only do the marshes provide essential habitat for fish, birds and other wildlife – they also benefit people by filtering pollutants from runoff and protecting the shoreline from flooding during major storms. But in order for Jamaica Bay to continue serving these vital functions for us, we must act as stewards to protect and restore the waters of the bay and estuary. EstuaryLIVE will reach thousands of people across the US who may not be able to take a journey through our unique estuary – and it will bring more knowledge to those who live and work here in the Harbor Estuary so that they can be better stewards of this important resource.

Join us on September 29th as we look at water quality, salt marshes and wildlife at Big Egg Marsh in Jamaica Bay – and take the opportunity to contemplate what you can do to promote stewardship of the Harbor Estuary. And don’t forget to check out the other estuaries that will be highlighted during our broadcast: South Slough in Oregon, Padilla Bay in Washington State and the Peconics – a close but very different estuary at the opposite end of Long Island. To f ind out more about the EstuaryLIVE, past, present and future and to view last year’s broadcast from Liberty State Park, please visit www.estuaries.gov.

Laura Bartovics is the Outreach Coordinator for the NY-NJ Harbor & Estuary Program and a New York Sea Grant Extension Specialist with Cornell University.

The Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers Univ, New Brunswick, NJ
A Resource for Research, Education, and Service
back to top
Dr. J. Frederick Grassle

Everything in New Jersey is connected to the ocean. That New Jerseyans should know the ocean, care about it, make intelligent use of it, and understand their interactions with it is the reason for the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences (IMCS) at Rutgers University. While dedicated to being a national and international leader in marine science, IMCS acts locally, in the New York – New Jersey Harbor and Bight, as well as globally.

IMCS, located on the Cook College campus in New Brunswick, N.J., brings together scholars from geology to microbiology to climatology. They teach undergraduate and graduate students, conduct cutting edge research, and help preserve our coastal assets.

IMCS is home to scholars such as Sybil Seitzinger, a biological oceanographer who studies coastal and estuarine ecology, and geologist Peter Rona, who focuses on extreme environments like deep-sea hydrothermal vents.

Seitzinger studies the sources and transport of nutrients – especially nitrogen – in watersheds, and their effect on aquatic ecosystems. In collaboration with an international group of scientists associated with a United Nations program, Seitzinger has developed a global model to predict the effect of human activities on nitrogen reaching coastal zones around the world as well as in the New York-New Jersey area. Activities such as the use of fertilizer, treatment of sewage, and burning of fossil fuels has made nutrient loading in the New York harbor area some of the highest in the world and led to poor water quality conditions.

Rona has led research studies of the Hudson Canyon, the submarine canyon at the mouth of the Hudson River between New Jersey and Long Island. Hudson Canyon is the largest submarine canyon on the eastern coast of North America. Extending from the mouth of the Hudson River, in the middle of New York City, the Hudson Canyon extends 300 miles beneath the ocean, connecting the heart of New York with the deep ocean. Rona received international recognition while teamed up with Rich Lutz, another biological oceanographer and science director, for the 2003 IMAX film, “Volcanoes of the Deep.”

Though based in New Brunswick, IMCS has significant research stations around the state, from Sandy Hook to Cape May, and from the Delaware Bay to the Great Bay, Barnegat and Raritan Bays. Researchers at Sandy Hook work with the National Park Service to study beach erosion and coastal transformation. The Rutgers University Marine Field Station (RUMFS), located in a former U.S. Coast Guard base on an island between Little Egg Harbor and Great Bay, is the base for studies of both bays.

RUMFS manages the Institute’s studies of migratory striped bass. Scientists tag striped bass with acoustic transmitters that signal striped bass location and migratory patterns from RUMFS to the New York – New Jersey Harbor. Past research has shown that f ish from the Hudson River move north up the coast in summer months and back to New York in fall months. Tracking surprisingly showed one striped bass tagged in North Carolina that was caught in Rhode Island, and another in Maine.

Rutger s Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory with its oyster hatchery on Delaware Bay, is worldrenowned for its studies of oysters – species of great importance to New Jersey’s economy. Oysters derived from a disease resistant strain developed at Haskin will revitalize both the Delaware and Chesapeake Bays, and have been introduced in the New York – New Jersey harbor area as well. IMCS is a pioneer in oceanobserving, and has supplied oceanobserving technology for most of the principal investigators for a National Science Foundation study. The purpose of this experiment, now in its fourth year, is to understand what happens when fresh water from the Hudson River mixes with the Atlantic Ocean’s salt water in the mouth of a big, urban estuary, and what happens to whatever is floating in that mix. All the oceanobserving technologies have been used in the three research cruises along the coasts of New Jersey and Long Island: high-frequency radar, submersible robot gliders, satellite imagery, moorings, sensors trailed by ships, and non-toxic red dye.

While this is just a sample of its interdisciplinary research, IMCS manages two programs that are of particular interest to the public. The coastal ocean observation laboratory (COOL) provides 24-7 real-time data on surface currents, surface and underwater weather from a field station in Tuckerton (Little Egg Harbor) NJ, and underwater weather from a group of autonomous underwater gliders.

The information is beneficial not only for researchers, but also for fishers, bathers, energy providers, and search and rescue and contaminant clean up crews. Another technological tool, the Ocean Biogeographic Information System, records data as scientists around the world take a census of marine life. Using these and other IMCS studies, the education outreach team brings Rutgers science to educators and coastal decision makers alike.

Dr. J. Frederick Grassle is the director of Rutgers Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences. To learn more visit http://marine.rutgers.edu.

Cool Links

Explore the Hudson Canyon and Peter Rona’s work at:

Anyone can tag and track virtual striped bass on the RUMFS website:

Get real-time ocean and marine data from COOL at:

You can find out more about IMCS at:

Find internet-based instructional modules for middle and high school at:

HEP Recognizes Recent Assistance & Contributions back to top

As part of an effort to make the connections between HEP partners more visible, Tidal Exchange will begin to regularly feature the contributions of the many organizations that donate time, meeting and event space each quarter. These contributions help facilitate the ongoing work of collaboration and coordination between the agencies, nonprofits, and individuals in New Jersey and New York to protect the harbor estuary. Since past contributions are too numerous to record here, HEP generally extends its appreciation to the many individuals and organizations who have contributed for many years in support of these efforts.

The HEP office would like to thank Future City, Inc. www.futurecitynj.org for hosting the joint Habitat Work Group and Citizens Advisory Committee Meeting on April 11, 2006. Michelle Doran McBean, the President and CEO of Future City, Inc., assisted in organizing the meeting and provided lunch for the participants.

Thanks to Future City, Inc. for hosting an Earth Day event for Elizabeth, NJ high school students. HEP’s Technical Specialist, Cathy Yuhas, conducted a “Salt Marsh in a Pan” activity.

You can find more about “Salt Marsh in a Pan” at: www.njmsc.org/Education/Lesson_Plans/Salt_Marsh_ In_A_Pan.htm.

Thanks to the Hudson River Foundat ion for host ing several meetings at their offices in the Spring quarter. Meetings included the CARP Management Committee, the NYC Wetlands Transfer Task Force, and the Regional Sediment Management Work Group. All of these efforts contribute to the overall restoration of the harbor.

The HEP office would also like to thank the Interstate Environmental Commission for hosting the June Management Committee meeting and for providing refreshments and coffee.

EstuaryLive 2005 Cast & Crew back to top

As we prepare for ELive 2006, we want to thank everyone who helped make last year’s broadcast such a great success. THANK YOU - we couldn’t have done it without you!

For the full list of cast and crew for EstuaryLive 2005, see page 6 of this issue's pdf file.

Going Boating This Summer?
back to top

If you plan to spend time out on the waters of the estuary this summer and your boat is equipped with a marine toilet, you’ll want to pick up the new Harbor Estuary Pumpout Map produced by the non-profit, Going Coastal, Inc. This newly updated map and guide shows boaters where they can empty their holding tanks, listing the name, location (with latitude and longitude coordinates) and contact information for each facility in the Harbor. The map also indicates “No Discharge” areas, “No Wake” areas, and bathing areas.

The pumpout map is part of Going Coastal’s larger Clean Boating – Green Marina Campaign, officially launched on June 27 at the W. 79th Street Boat Basin in Manhattan. The launching also included a ceremony to award Going Coastal’s first “Clean Marina” award to the Boat Basin for going above and beyond required environmental regulations for marinas.

The NY-NJ Harbor & Estuary Program is proud to support Going Coastal’s stewardship efforts to educate marina operators and recreational boaters about what they can do in their day-to-day activities to help protect water quality in the Harbor Estuary ecosystem. By using pumpout facilities regularly, boaters can reduce the amount of pathogens and nutrients entering the waterways. In addition to offering pumpout facilities, marinas can make it easier for boaters to drop off recyclables and properly dispose of other waste.

Other partners and supporters of Going Coastal’s clean boating campaign include NYC Parks & Recreation, NYC Department of Environmental Protection, NYS Environmental Facilities Corporation, NY Marine Trades Association, and Dometic Sanitation Systems. v

For Pumpout Maps, guides for marinas, or other information visit www.goingcoastal.org, or contact Barbara La Rocco, Executive Director, Going Coastal, Inc. at info@goingcoastal.org. Pumpout Maps are also available from the HEP Office, call 212-637-3816 or e-mail info@harborestuary.org.

The Lined Seahorse (Hippocampus erectus) back to top

J.T. Boehm

Visitors to The River Project’s Estuarium at Pier 26 are often amazed to learn that seahorses live in New York Harbor. Seahorses are fish, and with a bony upright body, monkey-like tail, and horse-shaped head, they possess a mystery and charm that make them a flagship species for conservation and marine education efforts all over the world.

Like the health of their coastal habitats - coral reefs, mangrove forests, and estuarine environments - seahorse populations are at risk. According to Project Seahorse, an international organization with programs to conserve and manage seahorses and seahorse habitats, more than 20 million seahorses are traded commercially per year for ornamental purposes and Chinese medicine, and many are captured unintentionally. Effective as of May 2004, all species of seahorses were added to the IUCN (World Conservation Union) Red List (a comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of species) under three categories: vulnerable, endangered, or data deficient.

The Lined seahorse, Hippocampus erectus, named for the whitish lined markings found laterally on its body, is common to NY-NJ Harbor Estuary, and falls under the vulnerable category. However, no one knows the actual number of seahorses in the harbor. Because of this and limited information about seahorse life history, it is hard to measure the vulnerability of seahorses. We do know that the Lined seahorse tolerates a wide range of temperature and salinity, and has been collected all along the Atlantic coastline, from Nova Scotia to Argentina. Locally, the NY-NJ Harbor population is believed to spend most of its life in shallow areas, moving to deeper waters in the winter. In fact, due to their presence in the Hudson River, the species was given the misnomer Hippocampus hudsonia, in 1842.

To this day seahorse classification is controversial and complicated. They are masters of camouflage, vary in size, change color, and grow skin filaments to blend in with their surroundings. One defining physical feature is the lack of a caudal (tail) fin, which is replaced by a prehensile tail. As a result, the seahorse is a weak swimmer. Instead of swimming against strong currents, or using movement, to avoid predators, their tails are used to secure positioning by wrapping around corals, seaweed, sticks, or anything they can grab onto. With the help of this tail, seahorses spend much of their time consuming zooplankton from the water column, or on the bottom searching the mud for small invertebrate prey.

Seahorses may be most well known for their unusual role reversal during reproduction. The male seahorse has a kangaroo-like pouch into which the female deposits her eggs, allowing the male to fertilize them internally. The “pregnant” male then carries the eggs for two to three weeks until giving birth to a small (approximately 100 to 250) clutch of offspring that resemble miniature versions of adults. From birth these new additions to the harbor community will consume zooplankton immediately, individually consuming hundreds per day.

J.T. Boehm, of The River Project in New York City, has been caring for seahorses for several years and working on the Seahorse Breeding Program.


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