A project of the Hudson River Estuary Program
Compiled by Tom Lake, Consulting Naturalist
For the second straight month, global air temperatures exceeded all previous records. We keenly felt it on the river this week with very warm air and water temperatures. We had a feel-good story of a rescued turtle that survived only through the compassion and quick thinking of those involved. Black bears made two appearances this week.
Highlight of the Week
7/28 – Brooklyn, New York City: We held a Brooklyn Bridge Park public fishing clinic today sponsored by the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy and the Nyack College Fishing Club. Using rods, reels, and bait donated by Jack's Bait and Tackle on City Island in the Bronx, we fished from Pier 5 at Brooklyn Bridge Park. The fishing was extraordinary! Among the six species we caught, landed, and released were cunner (wrasse), scup (porgy), bluefish, and striped bass. High-hook was oyster toadfish with seven. The highlight of the day was four smooth dogfish (24-26-inches), a shellfish-favoring shark (Mustelus canis). The East River was 76 degrees Fahrenheit (F) and the salinity was 21 parts-per-thousand (ppt). (Photo of scup courtesy of Peter Park)
[In an effort to reduce the presence of lead in our environment, participants used Swivits concrete sinkers, a Staten Island based company. Peter Park]
[Scup (Stenotomus chrysops) is one of three porgies (Sparidae) in our watershed (marine and brackish waters). They are a common species along inshore waters well up into New England where they are known colloquially as “sand porgies,” reflecting their preferred habitat, broad sandy substrate. Scup can reach 18-inches in length. Tom Lake]
- Peter J. Park, Isa Del Bello, Christina Tobitsch, Lhana Ormenyi, Haley McClanahan, Shad Hopson
Natural History Entries
7/20 – Manhattan, HRM 11: On a day when the air temperature was near 100 degrees F, with a heat index approaching 110 degrees (real feel), Hudson River Sloop Clearwater and the New York City Parks Department teamed up for a public program we called "Underwater Neighbors at Riverside Park." We attracted 15 participants to Fort Washington Park, and they all got in the river to help us seine. Once we entered the river, with a southwest breeze off the water, it was approaching pleasant. As it was the season, our featured catch was a combination of abundant Atlantic silverside and Atlantic blue crabs. In lesser numbers were 100 millimeter-long (mm) young-of-year bluefish, a northern pipefish, and a northern puffer (30 mm). When the puffer went in the bucket for show-and-tell, it inflated up to the size of a ping-pong ball. (Photo of northern puffer courtesy of Peter Park)
[Note: one inch = 25.4 millimeters (mm)]
- Eli Schloss
7/23 – Manhattan, HRM 6: During a field trip program at Pier 84 in midtown, staff from the Hudson River Park's Estuary Lab caught a blue crab on rod and reel. Its carapace measured 4.5 inches across.
- Olivia Radick
7/27 – New Hamburg, HRM 67.5: Two weeks ago, Dana Layton discovered that bald eagle nest NY459A, which we believed held two nestlings, actually held three. Brenda Miler watched all three, now fledged, flying out over the river. Today, all three were perched in different trees near the nest keeping a close eye on the dropping tide in Wappinger Creek.
- Tom Lake
7/27 – Kowawese, HRM 59: In what had become the signature for summer 2019, the air temperature was in the mid-90s F and the river was 85 degrees. While we netted four species, young-of-year striped bass had the overwhelming presence (30-70 mm). A few of the largest ones were missing their aft end, diagnostic of a particular predator – bluefish – that we had not caught. The bodies of those fish ended abruptly midway with a “smiley face” (the bite of a bluefish is diagnostic).
[In a repeat of June, July 2019 was the hottest July since records have been kept, setting a global record according to the latest monthly global climate report by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).]
- Tom Lake, Phyllis Lake
7/27 – Croton Point, HRM 35: An angler landed a turtle on the north shore of Croton Point today. The turtle had swallowed the bait, “hook, line and sinker,” and needed help. The angler cut the line and handed the turtle to Croton Point Park staffer Antonio Amato, who then went to the Nature Center where it was identified as a female northern diamondback terrapin.
Other than monofilament line hanging out of her mouth and fishing gear in her craw, she was healthy. Grace Lamb and Kaustubh Patel prepared an aquarium with brackish river water and a dry haul-out for a short stay at the Nature Center. Later, the turtle was driven to Dr. Whitman at Creature Comforts Animal Hospital in Poughkeepsie and left for treatment. The hook was surgically removed and was still baited. To reduce the likelihood of infection, the turtle was placed with a wildlife rehabilitator and given antibiotics. After recovery, she will be released into the Hudson River at Croton Point. (Photo of diamondback terrapin courtesy of Karalyn Lamb)
[The diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin) is a turtle of salt to brackish water coastal marshes from Cape Cod to Chesapeake Bay. Their common name comes from the diamond-shaped rings on its carapace. There is a remnant population in the estuary at Piermont Marsh, and they have been reported as far upriver as Verplanck (river mile 40). Our knowledge of their life history in the river is sketchy, so if you see any diamondback terrapins, please report the details to Hofstra University’s Russell Burke, biorlb. Tom Lake]
- John Phillips
7/27 – Yonkers, HRM 18: Our weekly public seining program at the Sarah Lawrence Center for the Urban River at Beczak drew a dozen participants. Our catch was impressive and featured fishes more inclined to appreciate fresh rather than brackish water, including five young-of-year largemouth bass and 19 banded killifish. Atlantic silverside (18), a species that favors salt-to-brackish water, also made a good showing. American eels and white perch, at home almost anywhere, added to the story of diversity. Crustaceans included blue crabs and shore shrimp.
- Katie Lamboy
7/28 – Manhattan, HRM 1: Hudson River Park visitors caught three small black sea bass (100-125 mm) on rod and reel during our public catch and release fishing program, Big City Fishing, at Pier 25 in Tribeca. (Photo of black sea bass courtesy of Peter Park)
- Olivia Radick
7/29 – Yonkers, HRM 18: Students from Fieldston Outdoors in the Bronx visited the Sarah Lawrence Center for the Urban River at Beczak today to assist our staff in seining. Our net caught what has become the summer’s ubiquitous fish, Atlantic silverside (32), as well as comb jellies. (Photo of comb jelly courtesy of Mackenzie Bubel)
- Jason Muller, Lucy Jurina, Janesse Bel, Zahir Foster, Michael Treus Jed Hoduilk.
[Comb jellies (Ctenophora) are often mistaken for jellyfish but differ in that they have no tentacles and do not sting. Like true jellyfish, comb jellies are translucent, gelatinous, fragile, essentially planktonic, drifting at the whim of the wind and current. They are peanut to walnut-sized, often occur in swarms, and are common in warm, brackish estuarine shallows. For a real treat, gently scoop a few with a wet, cupped hand, place them into a small clear container, and gently rock the water. Their rhythmic, symmetrical, and altogether graceful movements are enchanting. Two species, Beroe's comb jelly (Beroe cucumis) and Leidy’s comb jelly (Mnemiopsis leidyi), are found in the estuary. Tom Lake]
7/29 – Manhattan, HRM 2: Hudson River Park visitors caught two more small black sea bass (both 152 mm) on rod and reel during our public catch and release fishing program, Big City Fishing, at Pier 51 in the West Village.
- Olivia Radick
7/29 – Manhattan, HRM 1: We kicked off the new week by checking our research sampling gear in Hudson River Park at The River Project's sampling station on the lighthouse tender Lilac at Pier 25. Our daily count of oyster toadfish reached four today, ranging from young-of-year (20-65 mm) to an adult (230 mm). A lined seahorse (90 mm) was a treat as were several adult blue crabs. The star of the day, however, was a spectacular adult tautog (310 mm).
-Melissa Rex, Toland Kister, Siddhartha Hayes
7/30 – Kowawese, HRM 59: This was a day (air temperature 96 degrees F) when just getting in the water (85 degrees) did not provide enough relief. We had to be under the water (heat index over 100 degrees). Donning our masks, we considered seining while snorkeling, but physics intervened. With the inshore water so warm, we were surprised that we still caught dozens of young-of-year striped bass (34-64 mm).
- Tom Lake, A. Danforth
*** Fish of the Week ***
7/30 – Hudson River Watershed: Fish-of-the-Week for Week 33 is the gray triggerfish (Balistes capriscus), number 224 (of 229) on our watershed list of fishes. If you would like a copy of our list, e-mail trlake7.
Our first gray triggerfish, captured in the Upper Bay of New York Harbor on 7/23, was added to our Hudson River Watershed fish list last week.
The gray triggerfish is a benthic (bottom) species; their body is laterally compressed(thin), and deep-bodied, not unlike a large dinner plate standing on its edge. They primarily feed on invertebrates, mollusks, and crustaceans. While the gray triggerfish ranges from Nova Scotia to Argentina, their center of abundance is coastal Maryland south to Florida and east to Bermuda. The gray triggerfish get its name from their spiny dorsal fin that can be used as predator-defense from being swallowed. They have a small mouth with a strong jaw and specialized teeth used to crush and chisel holes in their hard-shelled prey. Most gray triggerfish are less than 14-inches in length. (Photo of gray triggerfish courtesy of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)
- Tom Lake
7/30 – Yonkers, HRM 18: Fourth-graders from the Renaissance Charter School Summer Program visited the Sarah Lawrence Center for the Urban River at Beczak. The students were enchanted by gorgeous Atlantic silversides (11), feisty blue crabs, and odd-looking northern pipefish. The strangest animals in the net, however, were the comb jellies (13).
- Katie Lamboy, Lucy Jurina, Janesse Bell, Zahir Foster, Michael Treus, Jed Hoduilk
7/30 – Manhattan, HRM 1: We checked our research sampling gear in Hudson River Park at The River Project's sampling station on the lighthouse tender Lilac at Pier 25 and found three oyster toadfish (20-70 mm) as well as a northern pipefish of indeterminate size in our crab pot that made its escape before we could measure it.
- Siddhartha Hayes
7/31 – Milan, HRM 90: I take my bird feeders in each evening and place them out again the next morning. Today, that was 6:15 a.m. A few minutes later, I glanced out my back door and saw an adult black bear strolling among the feeders, twenty feet from my door. The strange thing was the bear showed absolutely no interest (they are the reason I take my feeders in each evening). I stepped out onto my deck and watched, as the bear just kept moving slowly away. This was a magnificent animal in very prime condition, beautiful fur, large head (no ear tag), and it seemed very comfortable with its slow, meandering route. As a biologist, I wonder why it passed up the opportunity to obtain the abundant calories of the filled bird feeders.
[The DEC has released a Guidance to Homeowners on how to avoid problems with black bears.
- Frank Margiotta
7/31 – Yonkers, HRM 18: Young students from the Yonkers YMCA joined the staff at the Sarah Lawrence Center for the Urban River at Beczak to help us land a whopping catch with our seine. Among the seven fishes were Atlantic silverside, American eel, bay anchovy, striped bass, bluefish, mummichog, and Atlantic menhaden. Crustaceans were plentiful as well, with sand shrimp, shore shrimp, and blue crabs.
- Jason Muller, Janesse Bell, Zahir Foster
8/1 – Yonkers, HRM 18: Forty students, both youth and adults, from the Yonkers Recreation Program visited the Sarah Lawrence Center for the Urban River at Beczak just in time to help us land our largest catch of the season. Seining with our staff, we caught almost too many blue crabs to count (34). Among the fishes we netted were Atlantic silverside (51), mummichogs (22) and young-of-year striped bass (17). Perhaps the most enigmatic animal was a single comb jelly.
- Elisa Caref, Janesse Bell, Zahir Foster, Jed Hoduilk.
8/1 – Manhattan, HRM 2: Hudson River Park Estuary Lab staff came across a spider crab off Pier 40 today while monitoring an oyster wrap. This monitoring is part of HRPK Estuary Lab’s Pier 32 Oyster Study. The crab’s carapace measured 90 (mm) and was brought to The River Project for their aquarium. (Photo of common spider crab with permission from Atlantic City Aquarium)
[The common spider crab (Libinia emarginata) is a small (100 mm), slow-moving decapod, that ranges from the Canadian Maritimes to the Gulf of Mexico. Like other “decorator crabs,” spider crabs cover their carapace with organic debris as a means of camouflage. Tom Lake]
- Olivia Radick
8/2 – Saugerties, HRM 102: I sensed some movement outside this evening at dusk and spotted a slightly smaller black bear than our previous visitor (see 7/23) approaching our apple tree. The bear grabbed an apple off the ground and turned to look toward our back stream. The bear quickly decided to hurry off in the opposite direction. From the stream came another, larger, bear, and that one seemed to hold sway over the apple-hunting grounds. The bear looked for apples, but white-tailed deer had eaten most of the recent drops. The bear considered a way around that problem by looking up to see apples, Macintosh, still on the tree. The bear hoisted itself quickly up onto one of the main branches and climbed as high and far out as it could, shaking apples to the ground. After eating just one of the falls, the bear lumbered over to our rows of Concord grapes and shuffled through the leaves. The grapes were not quite ripe, and the bear trundled off.
- Mary Alice Lindquist
8/2 – Cornwall Landing, HRM 57: The beach at Cornwall Landing is a half-tide beach. If you set a net at high tide, it will feel as though you are laying it off the railroad tracks. At low tide, the substrate is the consistency of knee-deep quicksand, so half-tide it is. Chris O’Sullivan and I have seined this spot for more than a decade, each time in front of 100 elementary school students for our Day-in-the-Life of the river program (this year’s 17th annual will be October 22).
Today’s featured fish was a half-dozen young-of-year smallmouth bass (77-79 mm). We guessed these were emigres from Moodna Creek a mile upstream where they spawn. Mixed in with the bass were handfuls of newly minted, nickel-sized blue crabs. The river was 85 degrees F, and the salinity was 3.0 ppt. (Photo of smallmouth bass courtesy of Tom Lake)
- Tom Lake, A. Danforth
8/2 – Yonkers, HRM 18: We welcomed the middle school students of New Settlement Houses Camp to the Sarah Lawrence Center for the Urban River at Beczak. They joined our staff to see if we could successfully seine the river at a super high tide (not optimum). We had few expectations, so our catch, which included Atlantic silverside, striped bass and blue crabs, was not at all disappointing.
- Jason Muller, Janesse Bell, Zahir Foster
8/2 – Manhattan, HRM 1: We returned to check our research sampling gear in Hudson River Park at The River Project's sampling station on the lighthouse tender Lilac at Pier 25 and found four more oyster toadfish, ranging from young-of-year (25 mm) to an adult (255 mm). Sharing the crab pot were two tautog (220, 230 mm) and a single nervous blue crab.
Summer 2019 Natural History Programs
Saturday, August 10 - 9:00am – 4:00pm
Great Hudson River Fish Count
Various sitesJoin us for the Great Hudson River Estuary Fish Count on Saturday, August 10th to explore the amazing variety of slippery, wriggly, and fascinating creatures usually hidden below the river’s surface. The Fish Count will take place at 19 sites along the banks and piers of the Hudson from Staten Island in New York City to Peebles Island State Park in the Capital Region. Depending on the site, seines, minnow traps, and rods and reels are used. Participants may don waders to help haul a seine - a curtain of net used in shallow water - or try their luck with a fishing rod. After naturalists display and discuss the catch, the fish are released back to the river.
The Great Hudson River Estuary Fish Count is free. For details on sites, locations, and times, please visit DEC’s website. The event is sponsored by DEC’s Hudson River Estuary Program.
Tuesday, August 20 - Thursday August 22 (9:00 AM - 4:00 PM)
2019 Teachers on the Estuary and Living Environment Institute
Amazing Watersheds (22 credit hours for NYS certified teachers and administrators)
Five Rivers Environmental Education Center, 56 Game Farm Road, Delmar, New York
Join us this summer as we explore amazing watersheds. Teachers will spend three days gaining valuable knowledge and learning new curricula while using interdisciplinary approaches to explore watersheds. Some easy hiking on trails is involved.
Cost: $60.00 for materials, supplies, and refreshments (dinner provided on Wednesday)
To register, e-mail drew.hopkins
Saturday, September 14 (1:00- 4:00 PM)
Science on the River
Norrie Point Environmental Education Center, Staatsburg
We would like to invite you to our open house featuring hands-on, interactive demonstrations, displaying scientific research and discovery on the estuary and in the Hudson Valley. Activities, with educational games and crafts, will be targeted towards both young and adult audiences.
For more information, email maija.niemisto or call 845-889-4745 x109.
Saturday, September 14 (11:00 AM- 4:00 PM)
Croton Yacht Club, Croton-on-Hudson
Hudson River Day (admission is free)
Join NYSDEC fisheries biologist Amanda Higgs for a seminar on Hudson River sturgeon, as well as many other educators speaking on the river’s natural history. There will also be a fishing clinic and boat rides for the entire family.
For more information: dennis
Saturday, September 21 - 10:00 AM
20th annual Hudson River Valley Ramble
Kowawese Unique Area, New Windsor (off Route 9W)
Join us on the beach at low tide as we investigate through sampling (with nets), Hudson River aquatic life in the shadow of Storm King Mountain at the northern gateway to the Hudson Highlands.
For more information, e-mail: trlake7
Hudson River: Striped Bass Cooperative Angler Program
You can share your fishing trip information and help biologists understand and manage our Hudson River striped bass fishery.
Here’s how it works: Fill out a logbook provided by us whenever you fish on the Hudson River (by boat or from shore). Record general location, time, gear used, what you caught (or if you didn’t catch anything) and return the logbook when you are done fishing for the season. You’ll receive an annual newsletter summarizing the information in addition to the latest news regarding regulations and the river. Whether you catch-and-release or take home a keeper, you can be part of the Cooperative Angler Program.
Join today by contacting: jessica.best, or call 845-256-3009
- Jessica Best
Hudson River Miles
The Hudson is measured north from Hudson River Mile 0 at the Battery at the southern tip of Manhattan. The George Washington Bridge is at HRM 12, the Tappan Zee 28, Bear Mountain 47, Beacon-Newburgh 62, Mid-Hudson 75, Kingston-Rhinecliff 95, Rip Van Winkle 114, and the Federal Dam at Troy, the head of tidewater, at 153. The tidal section of the Hudson constitutes a bit less than half the total distance – 315 miles – from Lake Tear of the Clouds to the Battery. Entries from points east and west in the watershed reference the corresponding river mile on the mainstem.
To Contribute Your Observations or to Subscribe
The Hudson River Almanac is compiled and edited by Tom Lake and emailed weekly by DEC's Hudson River Estuary Program. Share your observations by e-mailing them to trlake7.
To subscribe to the Almanac (or to unsubscribe), use the links on DEC's Hudson River Almanacor DEC Delivers web pages.
Discover New York State Conservationist - the award-winning, advertisement-free magazine focusing on New York State's great outdoors and natural resources. Conservationist features stunning photography, informative articles and around-the-state coverage. Visit the Conservationist webpage for more information.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration online tide and tidal current predictions are invaluable when planning Hudson River field trips.
For real-time information on Hudson River tides, weather and water conditions from sixteen monitoring stations, visit the Hudson River Environmental Conditions Observing System website.
DEC's Smartphone app for iPhone and Android is now available at: New York Fishing, Hunting & Wildlife App.