Last Wednesday, New York Harbor School’s Harbor SEALs kicked off their first day of full scale monitoring for the Hudson River Estuary Water/Air Quality Monitoring Program. We had a total of 21 volunteers working the jam packed schedule. In all, 4 different localities were sampled at exactly the same time in order to compare water conditions and determine the influence of the currents from the different bodies of water flowing through the Battery. We thank all the volunteers – adults and children who participated. We also thank the EPA for its support of this important project. We are in the process of developing a page on this site to post the data.
Additionally, last week our 11th grade Marine Biology Research students found a nauplius larva during their weekly sampling run at Pier 101. With a water temperature of 4 C and winter in full force, we were surprised to see that the Harbor is preparing for an early spring. Can you identify what Infraclass of organisms it belongs to? E-mail your answer to email@example.com. The first correct answer will win a prize (high school students only, sorry;).
Whether at night in freezing temperature or by day, the Harbor SEALs get their water quality data. Entrusted by the EPA to monitor the dissolved oxygen, bacteria, and nutrients in the water, these Volunteer Citizen Scientists are adding pieces to the environmental puzzle surrounding Governors Island and the Upper Hudson River Estuary. With the data they’re collecting, the SEALs will provide answers to the following questions: 01) do the waters of the East River cross over to the west side of Governors Island, 02) do the waters of the Hudson cross over to the east side of Governors Island, and 03) is there a difference in the nutrient and bacteria load between the east and west sides of Governors Island and Lower Manhattan? These questions are important if we are to look for ideal localities in which to re-populate oysters and other species. Stay tuned for more Harbor SEALs updates in the coming months. For more information and to join the Harbor SEALs Citizen Science Program, click here.
On Wednesday, December 19th, the Harbor SEALs celebrated the end of the year with a feast. The energy was high as SEALs poured in with food and gifts to share in what some were saying would be our last SEALs event due to the Mayan end-of-world event;) The upper class people took possession of the stereo and had a 15 minute mini dance in the corner of the room. How they figured out to plug in their Ipods was beyond me. When it was time for the meal, students made a line that wrapped around the room. Anita made barbecue chicken that was finger lickin’ good. By far, it was the most popular plate. Ray commented, “I need to learn this recipe!.” After the meal we exchanged Secret Santa gifts. Emphasis was placed, however, on the fact that we were all together sharing as one united community of Harbor SEALs and friends. A big thank you goes out to Stephanie and Tony for the spirit and idea of putting this event together; Anita for taking charge of serving and hugs; and all those who showed great holiday spirit – Rachel’s gift idea (coal in sack) takes the best prize for creativity! For more, click here.
This weekend, the Harbor SEALs trekked up to Black Rock Forest in Cornwall, New York to complete a one day ecology workshop sponsored by a Toyota Grant. We monitored the physical-chemical parameters of Cascade Brook and determined the health of this pristine ecosystem. With chemical and biological sampling gear in hand, we took a roller coaster-type ride up to the Brook on pick up trucks and got to work early Saturday morning. The SEALs team were able to determine that, although the Brook’s waters are pristine, it’s not immune to the effects of acid rain. We found pH values of around 5 to 6 units. Surveying the vertebrates and macroinvertebrates, the SEALs determined that the Brook has Type II organisms that are semi-tolerant to pollutants and thus are experiencing some stress. It wasn’t all work though as the team celebrated Ameena’s 17th birthday, hiked up to one of the Forest’s peeks, played board games, and delightfully cooperated in preparing meals. Thanks Rebecca and all for a great time! (For more pictures, click here: IMAGO)
Ameena, a 12th grade Harbor SEAL, addressed the guests at the Environmental Protection Agency’s 40th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act. Together with a member of the NY Harbor School’s Scuba Program, they delivered an impressive message about the future of clean water. “We have a right to protect the water’s resources and have access to our natural heritage,” said Ameena. There’s a long way to go but a new generation of environmentalists waiting to play their part.
On October 13 the Harbor SEALs, in collaboration with NYC urban ecologists and students from other NYHS CTE programs, planted about 20 “tortillas” of eel grass off of a decaying Brooklyn pier. These “tortillas” are made of cut-out burlap about 10 to 12 inches in diameter with 10 Eel grass individuals woven between the material in a concentric pattern. The team set up 6 stations with between 3 and 4 “tortillas per station, detailed GPS points were taken of each station, sedimentation rate was measured, and water quality monitoring was performed. It was another great day of environmental and team work under the NYC sun. (For more information click here.)
We launched our first workshop of the school year today. We had a great turn out as students from grades 10 through 12 came together to learn more about our great Harbor and the Hudson River Watershed. Using the Black Rock Forest Virtual Lab units that the director helped to create, the students embarked in a virtual tour of the Hudson River starting with a map to help define the term watershed. We then worked our way through the Troy Dam, stopped to inspect the recuperating populations of Atlantic Sturgeon, and headed down to Norrie Point to discuss the invasive water chestnut.
At one point we got into a heated debate on the ethics of Catch and Release: Should humans have the right to partake in leisurely activities at the cost of other animals’ lives or well-being. The debate got very heated but in the end, we understood that individuals can have different levels of ideals when it comes to what’s socially acceptable. But most importantly, we all agree that nature needs to come first if we humans want to “keep on keeping on.”
PD. As is our tradition, we took a serious shot of the kids (above figure) but also a wacky one. To see the latter, navigate over to the IMAGO tab above. Enjoy;)
On September 22nd the Harbor SEALs embarked on their first expedition of the 2012 school year to monitor the relative mass of plankton and plastic in the Hudson River Estuary. Aboard the NOMAD, the SEALs monitored physical-chemical parameters of the water and practiced sampling protocols in order to deploy a 20 foot plankton net with manta (Marvin) into the waters south of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge.
Citizen Scientist Environmental Monitoring of the Hudson River Estuary