Hudson River Almanac 8/10/19 – 8/23/19

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Hudson River Almanac
August 10, 2019 - August 23, 2019

A project of the Hudson River Estuary Program
Compiled by Tom Lake, Consulting Naturalist


This was a double Almanac week made even more expansive by the success of our eighth annual Great Hudson River Count. While seining dominated the stories, as our educators recounted their time on the water with their students, within the numbers (data) there were a couple of uncommon to rare fishes. A seal, a venomous spider, black bears, and hints of autumn bird migration rounded out an exceptional week.

Highlight of the Week

Lookdown8/10 – Croton Point, HRM 35: A diverse group of 28 assembled at Croton Point's Mother’s Lap beach to participate in the Great Hudson River Fish Count. The 81-degree Fahrenheit (F) water was very warm, the wind had stirred up the shallows, and the mixing of ocean and fresh waters created a brackish salinity of 5.76 parts-per-thousand (ppt).

We deployed a 50-foot seine on the early afternoon's low tide that came in bulging with flashing Atlantic menhaden (90), a favorite food of osprey, bald eagles, and bluefish. The flip-flopping mass of silver herring included an eye-grabbing, steep-faced, exotic-looking, 95-millimeter (mm) fish called the lookdown (Selene vomer), an uncommon, late summer visitor that is far more common farther south along the coast. Other fish included northern pipefish, young-of-year striped bass and bluefish, white perch, hogchokers, spottail shiner, Atlantic Silverside, three young-of-year silver perch (drum), and a bit out of its element in brackish water, a largemouth bass. Invertebrates included shore shrimp, a tiny Asian shore crab, and an enormous jimmy (male) blue crab. The preponderance of young-of-year fish in the catch underscored the estuary’s role as a critical nursery habitat. The event was made possible through the efforts of Westchester County Parks. (Photo of lookdown courtesy of Bonnie Coe)
- John Phillips, Gareth Hougham, Grace Lamb, Kaustub Patel, Bonnie Coe

[“Mother’s Lap" is a colloquial name for a small, sheltered cove on the north end of Croton Point. When commercial fishing was in its heyday in the mid-twentieth century, fishermen knew they could find refuge from wind and tide in this little bay as their nets worked offshore. In that regard, it reminded them of the calm and solace of sitting in “mother’s lap.” Tom Lake] [Note: one inch = 25.4 millimeters (mm)]

Natural History Entries

8/10 – Waterford-Peebles Island, HRM 158: Our DEC Region 4 team’s contribution to the eighth annual Great Hudson River Fish Count included electro-shocking at five sites on the day before and seining at Peebles Island on the fish count day. Our overall summary documented 31 species which eclipsed our record of 30.

An adult American shad was a surprise catch at the base of the Waterford Flight, a series of five locks that lifts vessels westward 170 feet above the Hudson River to the beginning of the Erie Canal and the Mohawk River. We released the fish and it swam away fine. We could not figure out why the shad was there, and not back in the ocean as spawning season had ended two months ago. We only found a few hundred young-of-year blueback herring in the lower branches of the Mohawk River where we expected far more.
- Scott Wells

[Our eighth annual Great Hudson River Fish Count featured 21 sites ranging from the Hudson River above tidewater, to the Mohawk River and Erie Canal, and then downriver to New York City including the East River. While we counted the numbers of fishes caught (species density), it was far more important that we noted the number of species present (species richness). Our final numbers were 42 species from 1,763 fish. Tom Lake]

Channel catfish8/10 – Green Island, HRM 152: Among the fish we caught during our Great Hudson River Fish Count sampling at Green Island was a huge channel catfish. (Photo of channel catfish courtesy of Chris Bowser)
- Dawn Baldwin

American shad (YOY)8/10 – Schodack Island, HRM 135: An audience of twenty-five joined us for evening low tide seining and to help us make three hauls of our net for the Great Hudson River Fish Count. The river was a warm 77 F. Included in the 61 fish we caught were spottail shiners (high count at 38), banded killifish, tessellated darters, and white perch. Among the young-of-year fishes were striped bass, river herring, and an 85 (mm) American shad. (Photo of American shad courtesy of Fran Martino)
- Fran Martino

Red-headed woodpecker8/10 – Staatsburg, HRM 86: We've seen a red-headed woodpecker, the rarest of our local woodpeckers, twice this week, both times in the same location near the top of a dead hemlock on the south side of Mills Cove. It was a real treat as for us as this is a "once every 10 years" bird. (Photo of red-headed woodpecker courtesy of Deborah Tracy Kral)
- David Lund, Linda Lund

8/10 – Hudson Highlands State Park, HRM 55: Fifty fish enthusiasts joined us on the beach at Little Stony Point for our contribution to the Great Hudson River Fish Count. We were there to haul a net and place our collective fingers on the “pulse” of the river. As we stood on the beach, we pointed as far upriver and as far downriver as we could see and suggested that there were millions of fish out there. However, the opaque gray water gave no hint if that was true, until we hauled our net.

A stiff west wind accompanying the ebb tide was pushing rollers up on the beach, and the spray on our lips hinted at some salt in the water. The salinity was 3.5 parts-per-thousand (ppt), fully ten-percent the strength of seawater, 66 miles inland from the open ocean. It took many hands, both large and small, to work our 85-foot seine in the wind. Much of the catch was expected, such as spottail shiners, American eel, banded killifish, tessellated darters, white perch, brown bullhead, and young-of-year striped bass. Even the channel catfish were not a surprise as we caught both adult and young-of-year ranging from 39-120 mm. Hogchokers are a once-in-a-while catch and one of them, a young-of-year, was the tiniest we had ever seen (4.5 mm).

The sole message from the sea was young-of-year Atlantic menhaden (high count at 61). These gorgeous little silvery herring with a yellow-tinged caudal (tail) fin, were hatched in the salt water of the Lower Bay of New York Harbor in spring. Afterwards, they streamed into the estuary by the many millions, sometimes upriver into freshwater, as an adaptation for survival (a small silvery fish in the clear Atlantic has a limited chance of survival). The river was 82 degrees F.
- Tom Lake, Lauren Martin, T.R. Jackson, B.J. Jackson

[Salinity is the ratio or amount of salt present in water. While there are several ways to measure salinity, in the Almanac it is most often expressed as parts-per-thousand (ppt). At this latitude on the east coast of North America, seawater salinity averages 32-36 ppt. The value at any one tidewater location is extremely dynamic changing day to day, hour to hour, even minute by minute. The estuary’s salinity is diluted or enhanced depending upon the vagaries of weather, wind, tide and current, as well as the volume of freshwater flow from the upland watershed. For example, today’s measurement of 25.0 ppt at Little Bay Park in Queens, can be thought of as about 74 percent seawater. Tom Lake]

8/10 – Piermont, HRM 25: A group of enthusiastic seiners gathered at Piermont Pier for our annual Great Hudson River Fish Count. The net filled with the expected young-of-year species such as striped bass, Atlantic silversides, and an assortment of male and female mummichogs. The surprises included a young eel (elver) found under a log in the low tide mud, a handful of slender pipefish, including one colored iridescent-green, a half dozen tiny naked gobies tucked down in the mud, and more than 100 quarter-size juvenile blue crabs. The salinity was 9.0 ppt.
- Margie Turrin, Laurel Zaima, Liam McGrath, Jacob Morenberg

Comb jellies8/10 – Yonkers, HRM 18: Twenty-nine participants joined us at the Sarah Lawrence Center for the Urban River at Beczak to help us seine the river for the Great Hudson River Fish Count. We made a dozen hauls in our marsh and collected 84 aquatic animals. Among the fishes were American eel, northern pipefish, white perch, and young-of-year striped bass and Atlantic menhaden. Among the invertebrates were blue crabs, moon jellyfish, and the delightful Beroe’s comb jelly (31). The salinity was 10.0 ppt, and the water temperature was 80 degrees F. (Photo of comb jellies courtesy of Katie Lamboy)
- Katie Lamboy, Kriss Xolocotzi, Taylor Jackson, Toni Jackson, Camaron Green, Veronica Washington, Jasmine Orgo, Bernice Green

[Comb jellies (Ctenophores) peak and fall in cycles like many of our aquatic animals. The difference with comb jellies is that it is not always clear why this happens. Water temperature, wind, tidal variance, salinity, and factors we know little of, may be part of the cause. In the last decade or so, there have been seasons when a single seine haul, from Englewood (NJ) to Croton Point, caught so many comb jellies that we could not land the net for their sheer volume and weight (and remember that comb jellies weigh almost nothing). Tom Lake]

8/10 – Manhattan, HRM 6: During Science Saturday, an event run by Hudson River Park’s Estuary Lab in celebration of the Great Hudson River Fish Count, one participant at our catch-and-release fishing station caught a bluefish on rod and reel. In our effort to minimize stress to the fish we catch, all our fish hooks are barbless. Because of this, the bluefish was able to wriggle enough to fall off the hook before being hauled up.
- Olivia Radick

Striped anchovy8/10 – Brooklyn, New York City: Sixty-six registered participants (there were likely many more) at Brooklyn Bridge Park assisted us in our contribution to the Great Hudson River Fish Count. We made fourteen hauls with our seine in the East River and caught seven species of fish, including northern pipefish, tautog, young-of-year silver perch, Atlantic menhaden, striped anchovy, and Atlantic silverside (high count at 362). Invertebrates included blue crab, long-wristed hermit crab, shore shrimp, and eastern mud snail. The salinity was 22.7 ppt, and the water temperature was 76.8 degrees F. (Photo of striped anchovy courtesy of Peter Park)
- Isa Del Bello, Christina Tobitsch, Lhana Ormenyi, Haley McClanahan, Shad Hopson, and Peter Park

8/10 – Manhattan, New York City: With 250 participants, the Randall's Island Park Alliance kicked off our Great Hudson River Fish Count program with some rod and reel fishing and caught two striped bass (seven and 12-inches). Moving onto seining, we made seven hauls resulting in 495 fish, including Atlantic silverside (high count at 461), American eel, Atlantic menhaden, northern pipefish (the longest was a six-inch gravid male), bluefish, and winter flounder. Invertebrates included blue crabs (including a soft-shell), shore shrimp (some as small as a basmati rice grain), sand shrimp, and mud dog whelk snails. The salinity was 24.0 ppt, and the water temperature was 74 degrees F.
- Jacqueline Wu

Atlantic tomcod8/10 – Queens, New York City: The Alley Pond Environmental Center’s Field Biology Internship program at Little Bay Park was our contribution to the Great Hudson River Fish Count. Our morning sampling of the East River combined seining and rod-and-reel fishing. In four hauls of our seine, we netted 148 fish dominated by young-of-year Atlantic menhaden, bluefish, northern kingfish, silver perch, tautog, winter flounder, grubby (sculpin), as well as striped killifish, northern pipefish, and Atlantic silverside (high count at 88). Aquatic Invertebrates included shore shrimp, sand shrimp, blue crabs (most soft-shelled), common spider crab, and Atlantic horseshoe crab. Bluefish and striped sea robin were added by rod-and-reel. The water temperature was 74 degrees F, and the salinity was 25.0 ppt. (Photo of Atlantic tomcod courtesy of Peter Park)
- Kasey Wilding, Peter Park

8/10 – Queens, New York City: We counted 85 attendees at our evening seining program at Francis Lewis Park for the Great Hudson River Fish Count. While we only made four hauls of our net, they were incredibly efficient. Young-of-year fishes dominated our catch, including a surprising number of young-of-year silver perch (39) and northern kingfish (both drums), northern pipefish, bluefish, Atlantic tomcod (one was 132 mm), winter flounder, northern puffer, striped killifish, and Atlantic silverside (high count at 252). Invertebrates included sand shrimp, shore shrimp (too many to count), long-wristed hermit crabs (Pagurus longicarpus), and blue crabs. One of our Nyack College Fishing Club students caught a summer flounder on hook and line, and two local anglers caught, one each, a sea robin and a scup (porgy). The water temperature was 76 degrees F, and the salinity was 25.5 ppt.
- Peter Park

8/11 – Beacon, HRM 61: The Beacon Sloop Club's Corn Festival gave us an opportunity to haul a net, deftly dodging the water chestnuts and deadfalls, off the north end of Pete and Toshi Seeger Park. Three pulls of the seine were enough to provide a good sense of the river’s diversity to share with the festival attendees. We caught three young-of-year blueback herring, two young-of-year striped bass, a tessellated darter, two northern pipefish, and three blue crabs.
- Eli Schloss

8/11 – Beacon, HRM 61: I fished from Long Dock today during the last four hours of the ebb tide and the first hour-plus of the incoming catching and releasing three small channel catfish (12-15-inches). It was a slow session. The river was very turbid, perhaps a leftover from yesterday’s heavy rain. I had caught a couple of carp and several catfish a week ago, but the anticipated resumption of carp activity – jumping and surface rolling – was absent today.
- Bill Greene

8/11 – Manhattan, HRM 6: A participant at our Big City Fishing public catch-and-release program at Pier 84 caught a blue crab (120 mm). However, it took three Hudson River Park Estuary Lab staff to successfully remove the hook from the blue crab’s many hooks, barbs, and mouth parts. One of us held the fishing rod, another safely held the blue crab’s claws, and the third carefully slid the hook out of its mouth. It was awesome teamwork!
- Olivia Radick

8/11 – Manhattan, HRM 1: While running our Big City Fishing public catch-and-release program at Pier 25, participants caught three fish on rod and reel, including a young-of-year bluefish (89 mm) and two gorgeous black sea bass (140, 127 mm). At the end of the program, Hudson River Park Estuary Lab staff used our trusty fish-elevator bucket on a rope to gently lower the fish back into the river.
- Olivia Radick

8/12 – Newcomb, HRM 302: We have been experiencing an abundance of monarch caterpillars and their chrysalises this summer. Locals are also reporting more caterpillars this year in their milkweed patches compared to last year’s paltry numbers. We are seeing a few adult butterflies flitting in the garden but the 30-plus chrysalises we have indoors are about a week from emerging.

In addition to active caterpillars, our neighborhood grey foxes have been causing a ruckus at night. Just after sundown, we hear the hoarse barking of the fox as it jets from backyard to backyard and into the woods. They vocalize with up to a dozen barks in succession before moving to another location. This is repeated a few times during the night, usually waking me in the wee hours. If you listen carefully you can hear another one not far off. Sounds like our neighborhood is a hotly contested territory.
- Charlotte Demers

Northern red salamander8/12 – Ulster County, HRM 76: While taking a nice early morning stroll through the woods behind our Kerhonkson house in the foothills of Catskill Mountains, my son Justin and I were treated to some interesting sights and sounds of nature. Not far along into our hike, we came across tracks of a small black bear in the mud along a stream. By their size, I guessed it was about an 80-pound bear. We came upon rocks that had been turned over and logs torn apart from bears searching for food. Later, we jumped a white-tailed doe and fawn that were bedded down 30 yards away. But, the highlight for Justin was when we approached the top of a ridge and heard a twig snap ahead of us. We slowly approached the crest as quietly as we could and caught a glimpse of a small bear running through the mountain laurel ahead of us. The highlight for me was when I moved a piece of timber from the trail and discovered a northern red salamander that had been hiding underneath. (Photo of northern red salamander courtesy of Jeremy Baracca)
- Jeremy Baracca

8/12 – Manhattan, HRM 1: During our Big City Fishing public program at Pier 25 in Hudson River Park, visitors caught a young-of-year bluefish (76 mm) and a black sea bass (114 mm). Both were caught on rod and reel and were later released back into the river.
- Olivia Radick

8/12 – 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 discovered that overnight we had captured seven immature blue crabs (10-20 mm) and five adults (120-150 mm), one of which was carrying eggs on her abdomen. In addition to the crustaceans, we caught three oyster toadfish (20-35 mm), a black sea bass (40 mm), two butterfish (30 mm), and a naked goby (20 mm).
- Siddhartha Hayes, Katie Eng, Jilly Edgar, Devin Laraia

8/13 – Yonkers, HRM 18: Ten young staff from the Hudson River Museum summer program got into the river for the first time this year and helped us seine at the Sarah Lawrence Center for the Urban River at Beczak. Our catch included Atlantic silverside, mummichog and young-of-year striped bass. The non-fish were blue crabs (high count with 27), two Asian shore crabs, and a comb jelly.
- Katie Lamboy, Marla Wilson, Janesse Bell, Zahir Foster

8/14 – Stockport Creek, HRM 121.5: Our Full Moon Paddle at Stockport Creek lured 14 participants to join us for an early evening adventure on the water. Our seine collected a bucket-full of fast-moving, young-of-year striped bass that served as a reminder of the river’s role as a nursery for a multitude of species. They will hopefully grow strong and survive to reach a weight near 50 pounds and exceed three-feet in length. Striped bass alternate their life history between the estuary and inshore coastal waters, sometimes traveling as far north as Maine and far south as the Carolinas, but always returning to an estuary (often their natal river) in spring to spawn. There was also exciting avian action to watch with an osprey flyover that gave us a good look at the fish it was carrying in its talons and the two nearby bald eagles that followed a hot pursuit.
- Fran Martino, Jim Herrington

8/14 – Manhattan, HRM 1: We checked our research sampling gear in the Hudson River Park at The River Project's sampling station on the lighthouse tender Lilac at Pier 25 and found seven oyster toadfish, a mix of young-of-year and adults (18- 260 mm). But, the star of the catch was a dainty lined sea horse (60 mm). The bullies of the catch were a mix of immature blue crabs (20-150 mm).
- Siddhartha Hayes, Jilly Edgar, Devin Laraia

Atlantic needlefish8/14 – Brooklyn, New York City: Young campers from Manhattan came to Brooklyn Bridge Park to watch us seine and learn about East River ecology. Fish that we identified as a group included bay anchovy, bluefish, Atlantic silverside, and two amazing Atlantic needlefish (220, 245 mm). This is the first year we have seen needlefish and within the last weekdays, we had caught four. We also caught 20 tiny moon jellyfish (possibly a record number for us), ribbed mussels, mud snails, and a tiny young-of-year blue crab (10 mm). The salinity was 26.0 ppt. (Photo of Atlantic needlefish courtesy of Christina Tobitsch)
- Christina Tobitsch

8/15 – Manhattan, HRM 1: On hot weeks in the middle of summer we check our research sampling gear nearly every day in Hudson River Park at The River Project's sampling station on the lighthouse tender Lilac at Pier 25. Today, we found 22 dime-size immature blue crabs. Among the fish we counted was a mix of five adult and young-of-year oyster toadfish (10-230 mm), a tautog (220 mm), a black sea bass (165 mm), and a darling little skilletfish (30 mm).
- Toland Kister, Eitan Magaliff, Lena Farley, Matt Byron, Huy Nguyen

8/16 – Yonkers, HRM 18: Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy educators visited the Sarah Lawrence Center for the Urban River at Beczak today to learn more about our programs and how we use the river as an educational resource. Atlantic Silverside (high count with 68) continued to be the fish of the summer. We also caught some young-of-year striped bass, blue crabs, and a mix of comb jellies and moon jellyfish.
- Elisa Caref, Marla Wilson, Janesse Bell, Zahir Foster, Katie Lamboy

Mediterranean recluse spider8/16 – Manhattan, HRM 4.5: This afternoon, while making the rounds in my building I came across a recluse spider stuck to a glue trap. I could see “fiddle” markings on the spider’s back suggesting a brown recluse, but that alone is not a 100% confirmation. These are not native to New York; perhaps this one came in through a delivery package or on shipping material from afar. (Photo of Mediterranean recluse spider courtesy of Sean Gannon)
- Sean Gannon

[I examined a photo of the spider and concluded that it was a recluse, but the presence of the markings on the abdomen are not unique to brown recluse spiders. There is an exotic recluse spider, the Mediterranean recluse (Loxosceles rufescens), that is very difficult to tell apart from the brown recluse and it has a wide distribution in the United States including records from the northeast. Mediterranean recluse spiders tend to live in basement-like situations. Based on probability, I would guess this was the Mediterranean recluse. Bob Schmidt]

8/16 – Manhattan, HRM 1: We closed out our 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. There, we found six nickel-to-quarter size immature blue crabs, five adult and young-of-year oyster toadfish (20-270 mm), a tiny butterfish (15 mm), and a northern pipefish (100 mm).
- Nina Hitchings, Huy Nguyen

8/16 – Manhattan, New York City: Our Randall's Island Park Alliance staff educators conducted our pollinator monitoring today and found bumblebees enjoying the joe-pye weed, partridge pea, heliopsis, Desmodium, chicory, false bindweed, white clover, red clover, sweet white clover, and the thistles. We also found monarchs about the island including 13 adults and six caterpillars.
- Jackie Wu

Spanish mackerel8/17 – Croton-on-Hudson, HRM 36: Stanley Dresick caught three Spanish mackerel in his bunker bait net in front of the Croton Yacht Club today (the bunker, or menhaden, are used as bait for blue crabs). The largest of the three measured 20-inches and they were feeding on “peanut bunker” as evidenced by their stomach contents. (Photo of Spanish mackerel courtesty of Tom Lake)
- Dennis Kooney

[Atlantic menhaden (Brevoortia tyrannus) are a species of herring that spawn in salt to brackish water. Adults, also known regionally as bunker, mossbunker or pogies, and their young-of-the-year, known colloquially as peanut bunker or penny bunker, are found by the millions in the estuary in summer providing forage for osprey, harriers, eagles, seals, humpback whales, striped bass, bluefish, and apparently Spanish mackerel. Tom Lake]

Canada warbler8/18 – Dutchess County, HRM 82: I was fortunate to have the opportunity to photograph a Canada warbler today. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Canada warblers are one of the last warblers to arrive north in the spring and one of the first to leave in the fall. Their wintering destination, or range, extends around the northern and western side of the Andean Crest, from western Guyana to northwestern Bolivia. (Photo of Canada warbler courtesy of Deborah Tracy Kral)
- Deborah Tracy Kral

8/18 – Manhattan, HRM 6: While setting up for our Hudson River Park Estuary Lab’s Big City pubic catch-and-release fishing program, our staff pulled buckets of water up over the side of Pier 84. In one of the buckets, we found an Atlantic silverside (20 mm). During the program, a participant caught a blue crab on rod and reel. In our effort to minimize stress to the fish we catch, all our hooks are barbless, and because of this, the blue crab was able to release itself from the hook and fell back into the river before being fully reeled up.
- Olivia Radick

8/18 – Manhattan, HRM 1: During our Hudson River Park Estuary Lab’s Big City pubic catch-and-release fishing program at Pier 25, participants caught two fish on rod and reel: a bluefish (102 mm) and an oyster toadfish (235 mm). When a Hudson River Park Estuary Lab staff member pulled up a crab pot, he found that he had caught four blue crabs (102-140 mm). At the end of the program, Hudson River Park Estuary Lab staff used our trusty fish-elevator bucket on a rope to gently lower the fish back into the river.
- Olivia Radick

8/19 – New Hamburg, HRM 67.5: While walking down our driveway coming off our 1.3 square acre Rabbit Island, adjacent to the Metro North railroad tracks at the New Hamburg Station, I stopped to watch a white-tailed doe and her two fawns appear out of the shrubbery and walk up and across the train tracks. They stopped when they reached the four-foot-high safety fence that separates the right-of-way from the commuter parking lot. The doe casually bounded over the fence leaving the two bewildered fawns standing on the tracks. It was clear that they were too young to make it over the fence. With a mounting sense of panic, I watched as the doe casually trotted across the parking lot and I wondered if I could somehow safely urge the fawns off the tracks. As I approached them, they suddenly decided discretion was the better part of valor. They turned around, walked back across the tracks, and ambled into the dense growth. It had been a heart-stopping moment, watching two confused fawns standing on the tracks and hoping that no trains were about to arrive.
- David Cullen

8/19 – Manhattan, HRM 2: This season was the first that the Hudson River Park’s Estuary Lab was hosting our Big City Fishing pubic catch-and-release program on Pier 51 in Manhattan’s West Village. It was definitely a welcome addition to our list of fishing locations as participants reeled up eight fish including six black sea bass (102-165 mm), a white perch (203 mm), and a sea robin (127 mm). The odd member of the catch was a blue crab (254 mm). Many participants and park visitors were amazed to see that there was life in the river below our piers, and Hudson River Park’s Estuary staff were given the perfect teaching opportunity to share that our pile fields create rich habitat for juvenile fishes.
- Olivia Radick

8/19 – Manhattan, HRM 1: One participant at our Big City pubic catch-and-release fishing program at Hudson River Park’s Pier 25 caught an immature oyster toadfish (51 mm) on rod and reel using cut squid as bait. The fish was released unharmed.
- Olivia Radick

Cobia8/19 – Queens, New York City: I was at the World’s Fair Marina preparing for my Flushing Bay Fishing clinic when I spotted a young-of-year cobia (about 100 mm) in the shallow water where it was resting on a submerged rope. Cobia have unmistakable morphology, and I was close enough to observe its features such as its long, slender, jet black body with a white horizontal stripe on each side. It had a flag-like tail, noticeably enlarged pectoral fins and a flat (depressed) head. With only a dip net to use, I was unable to capture it. I had seen juvenile cobia before but never in the East River. This fish would have been the first confirmed tropical visitor to the East River this year and probably the coolest East River catch as well. (Photo of cobia courtesy of NYS Department of Environmental Conservation)
- Peter Park

[Cobia (Rachycentron canadum) are a rare marine stray in the estuary being far more common in southern coastal waters. Occurrences have been few. A recent record (2016) was a young-of-year cobia (103 mm) caught by the DEC Hudson River Fisheries Unit at Kingsland Point, river mile 28.

Early records from the estuary include a 31-inch cobia from New York Harbor in 1815, another cobia, now in the New York State Museum Collection, from New York Harbor in 1872, and a cobia (95 mm) collected in a minnow seine in Croton Bay in 1890. At that time, they were known, colloquially, as “crab eater,” reflecting their predilection for blue crabs. Tom Lake, Bob Schmidt]

** Fish of the Week **

Lookdown8/20 – Hudson River Watershed: Fish-of-the-Week for Week 35 is the lookdown (Selene vomer),
number 171 (of 229) on our watershed list of fishes. If you would like a copy of our list, e-mail trlake7.

Lookdown is one of six members of the Jack family (Carangidae) documented for our estuary. Others include crevalle jack, round scad, Atlantic moonfish, banded rudderfish, and permit. All are considered temperate marine strays from more southerly waters although the crevalle jack seems to have become a bit more established in the coastal waters of the New York Bight. The very tropical-looking lookdown can get to be a foot-long.

The steep and deeply slanted profile of the lookdown’s head gives the impression that it is looking down its nose, thus the common name. Their silvery, flashy body is reflected in their Genus, Selene, from the Greek selas (flashy or shinning). Their trivial name, vomer, is from the Latin vomer, meaning plow – “flashy plow-head” fits well. (Photo of lookdown courtesy of NMFS)
- Tom Lake

8/20 – Columbia County, HRM 113: Several times in the past week we have seen large moths buzzing around our Monarda patch in Hillsdale, appearing in the early evening. We tried to get a good look at them which was difficult because they did not settle and buzzed quickly from flower to flower. We think we saw five at once, but counting was difficult. We finally got a good look at a couple of them and they turned out to be bedstraw hawkmoths (Hyles gallii).
- Bob Schmidt, Kathy Schmidt

Blue crab8/20 – Queens, New York City: Our Nyack College Fishing Club Flushing Bay Fishing Clinic, with 25 participants, was a success. The small crowd enabled us to provide and teach participants a variety of fishing methods such as types of bait (worms, clams, spearing/Atlantic Silverside, thawed from frozen as purchased at bait and tackle shops), lures (Snapper Poppers, etc.), and fishing with crab snares (miniature crab traps that can be tied to the line on a fishing rod). Everyone got to try one or more of the options. Overall, we caught eleven bluefish, white perch and blue crabs, and almost everyone caught something. One family caught a 14-inch bluefish. Jackie Wu, from Randall’s Island Park Alliance, caught a giant blue crab (152 mm carapace). The water was 77 degrees F, and the salinity was 25.0 ppt. (Photo of blue crab courtesy of Peter Park)
- Peter Park

8/21 – Saugerties, HRM 102: Our DEC Region 3 Wildlife Unit received a report today of a seal sighting in the vicinity of the Saugerties Lighthouse adding that the seal was seen swimming around in the shallow water near the lighthouse.
- Lisa Massi

[A seal in the Hudson River in any season is not uncommon. However, with nothing to go on, it was impossible to determine the species of this one. Although we have seen harp seals, gray seals, and hooded seals in the estuary, at least 95 percent of all our seal sightings are harbor deals (Phoca vitulina). Tom Lake]

Common loon8/22 – Chestertown, HRM 251: I can confirm Mike Corey’s entry with regard to the common loon and late season chick on Loon Lake (see 8/4). Now, 18 days later, the chick was significantly bigger, better feathered and no longer riding mama's back. The locals were concerned that it won't exit the lake in time for the autumn migration. The last late chick they saw ended up feeding the eagles after getting stuck in the last bit of open water when it finally froze. (Photo of common loon courtesy of Steve Rock)
- Steve Rock

Spanish mackerel8/23 – Irvington, HRM 24.5: I was fishing in the Hudson River at Matthiessen Park today when I caught two 10-12-inch Spanish Mackerel using shrimp on a Sabiki rig. I’ve been fishing the river for many years, and I’ve never heard of anyone catching Spanish mackerel in the Hudson River Estuary. (Photo of Spanish mackerel courtesy of NMFS)
- Christopher Meng-Killeen

8/23 – Manhattan, New York City: Our Randall's Island Park Alliance Natural Areas team conducted our monthly beach seining this morning. Our Water's Edge Garden site was filled with alga – fluffy reds, Ulva lactuca, Fucus distichus, Grinnell's pink leaf, landlady's wig, and more – making for some tough seining. Regardless, we made three hauls and caught four species of fish including northern pipefish, winter flounder, oyster toadfish, and Atlantic silverside (high count with 197). Blue crabs were abundant as well (35), along with both sand and shore shrimp. The water temperature was 77 degrees F, and the salinity was 23.0 ppt.
- Jackie Wu

Ruby throated hummingbird courtesy of Jim Yates

Summer 2019 Natural History Programs

Saturday, September 7 (11:00 AM- 4:00 PM) (Please note the date change)
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 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.niemistoor call 845-889-4745 x109.

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

The Hudson River Valley Ramble offers programs throughout the month of September. For more information, visit:

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:, 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.

Useful Links

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.

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