You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘environment’ category.

In recent years, the villains have included developers and politicians.  Let’s see if you can guess who got pilloried in 2010.  I give no clues, although I will show dirty pictures.

Eeeew!  Sullied skin and scales;  sticky besmirching gunk!

A polluted sea on the sidewalk,

such beauty begrimed,

a beached fowl befilthed by a fouling foam,

a pestiferous plague on pickup and passengers,  and

all drawing out righteous indignation.

Face it . . . many of us  are traumatized  . . .  and what can we do?

In the Gulf of Mexico and many other places our consumption has brewed a cruddy, nasty, soiled, nasty, stinky concoction that

chokes when brought to the mouth.

The sea . .. and the land and the shoreline are

yours and ours.  But how do we claim what is ours?

What must we all do to save beauty from beastliness?

Click here to see Rick (old salt’s) post with a great clip of the becrowning of Laurie Anderson and Lou Reed.  Here’s Lou Reed’s “coney island baby.”  From frogma, musica!

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

Some related pieces:  a Frank Rich essay from Sunday’s NYTimes that I like, oil spills we don’t hear about,  a cautionary tale from Nigeria where oil has issued forth since 1958, info and pix about the momentous 1969 oil spill off Santa Barbara, and an article about life of the crew of vessel known as OCS-G 32306 integral to efforts at end this nightmare.

So who was the villain here?

My gratitude to all the performers for their theatre of grief.

Forces at play include:  sun, earth, season, tide, surf, and many more.  J aka Jamaica Bay is not not more than 10 nautical miles (goose-flying miles) from Manhattan, about the same distance the Meadowlands is, if you continued that straight line between my vantage point and the Empire State Building, then beyond.

Here’s a map.  Doubleclick to enlarge;  see “you are here” and continue clockwise around the indicated yellow path and look toward Duck Point Marshes;   Manhattan is to the northwest.  J-Bay is an NPS area.  Click here for info on the National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy.

See the Verrazano Bridge on the far side of Floyd Bennett Field.

Osprey respond to all those same forces at play.

On the far side of a pond, a wildlife volunteer (aka midwife?) observes an egret,

a snowy egret, gossiping and waiting . . .  as they all are.

So what’s this volunteer doing?  Note the pendant and the red dot.

After the eggs get laid–prompted by all these forces–

and a thorough burying process happens,

the red-dot mama gets weighed, and all relevant info gets encoded.  I saw a half dozen egg-layers summoned by the forces in a one-mile walk in the preserve yesterday.  A year ago, on the northeast side of J-Bay, the terrapin shut down JFK.  See the story here.

Humans think the terrapin obey signs?    From the volunteer, I learned that another force at play here is an overpopulation of raccoons.  And for hatchlings, predators include wading birds and voracious fish.

Well, it’s time for us all to kick back and enjoy all those same forces at play:  Saturday . . . Coney.    Or if you’re upriver . . .  Clearwater.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp, himself beset by forces and tribal ritual of spring.

For info on terrapin mating, see here and here.

For another rite of spring in the sixth boro, click here.

Monday of this week I saw Kenny G for only the second time.  Scroll through here for a foto from my first sighting.

Kenny G was docked halfway up Newtown Creek with a deck barge on the nose.

No summertime blues here.

Please go back to yesterday’s post and suggest a caption there so that a few more options can be added to the contest poll.

All Kenny G fotos by Will Van Dorp.

Anyone have more info on the sweet summertime lapis blue tug raising spirits in one of the most contaminated waterways in the US?

In previous posts we pondered winter fishing and puzzled about East River fishing.  Yesterday I caught wind of a fishing competition between Gelberman and Hayward, two vessels operated in the New York District of the US Corps of Engineers.

The fishing began the very instant the echo of the starter’s signal boomed across the boro.  Gelberman was first out the KVK with

Hayward right behind.  But the first rod to tilt upward belonged to Hayward . . . aware of what all drifts beneath the surface.

After what seemed an epic  struggle worthy of Santiago’s, Hayward gained the upper hand, raising the crane skyward although

the prey twisted and turned, prolonging the fight, clawing back to remain in the murky fluff.

The quarry now secured, two helmeted Junetime fisherfolk posed with their trophy, which gets classified

by a dear fellowblogger as Junk.  I sincerely hope bowsprite has kept her eye open for other junk, infiltrating the boro and threatening our way of life.  Junk is junk after all, whether it be Detritus rectangulus furnitureus or Detritus rectangulus aluminumensis.

Thanks to the Corps of Engineers for their efforts in many domains.

Unrelated:  I’m happy but shocked to read about Coast Guard plans for Deepwater oil washing towards . . . . Long Island!    Plans are good, but . . .

“I am the Manager of the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.  The reserve comprises some 18,000 acres of estuary and other coastal habitat, right on the Gulf, obviously under great risk should the oil make it to our shoreline.  Massive effort has developed plans to help deter the oil from reaching shore, using burning, dragging, and extensive booming.  The entire perimeter of the Grand Bay NERR is boomed, as are several interior inlets.  Though, I hope we do not have to count on the fifteen miles of booms.

Over the past several weeks my staff has been busy documenting the current conditions of the reserve, sampling fishes, seagrasses, emergent marshes, water quality, sediments, fish tissue, birds, invertebrates, diamondback terrapins and extensively photographing the shoreline and marshes.  I work for the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources and have spent several days working at the Mobile, AL Unified Command Center helping make plans  for protection of the shoreline and for cleanup as needed.  So far most of mainland Mississippi has been spared, though debris and many tar-balls are washing ashore on our barrier islands which are part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore.

Like with many issues, the media is playing a major role in driving our thinking on this.  They want numbers and dramatic pictures.  After this weekend’s [top kill] failure, the mood of the coast is gloomy.  Residents, businesses and local governments are downright angry and mostly helpless.  So much of the economy of the entire Gulf region depends upon the water and between oil and dispersant, how long will it be fouled?  There are just so few answers to this whole mess.

The biggest shame is that this drilling technology that allows us to drill at these depths apparently has outpaced our abilities to address catastrophic failures in the system at these depths.  The people involved in planning have been hopeful that something would work to stop the gusher, but now if we can only count of the relief wells in August to maybe stop this, how can we stop it from fouling the entire Gulf.  And what will tropical weather add to the formula?

The beaches can be cleaned with relative ease, though oil could continue washing ashore for months.  However, the marshes are a different matter:   cleanup of vegetated, muddy areas will be next to impossible to clean.  The toxicity of the oil should be somewhat less as it weathers for weeks before getting here, but we really do not know what that means for the plants and animals.  We are about 130 miles due north of the Deepwater Horizon well site.  (As of June 1) no oil has been within 30 miles of the MS coast.

[This is a family affair:  My wife] works in Pascagoula, MS at the National Seafood Inspection Laboratory for NOAA, determining what seafood is safe for consumption and what federal areas of the Gulf should be open or closed to harvest.”

Dave Ruple, the writer of the piece above, is a high school friend who moved to coastal Missisippi after college.  Bienville Animal Medical Center is located in Ocean Springs, MS.

The sign below hangs near the St. Claude Avenue Bridge at the mouth of the Industrial Canal in New Orleans and has nothing to do with the oil spill.

The Bridge has an integrated lock structure.  My niece living in New Orleans (100 + miles from the Gulf)  has sent me these two pics.  Thanks, Carly.

Here is a set oil-spill related links:

General EPA facts about the Gulf of Mexico (GOM)

See a GOM leakometer.

Thoughts from Scientific American on duration/effects of the oil spill.

Oil Spill Crisis Map

NYTimes slideshow of president of Plaquemines Parish

Official site of Deepwater Horizon Response

What has been the evolution of BP the company?

What if this spill had happened in Nigeria?

How many sperm whales live in the GOM?

A self-described “non-green” person’s reaction to the ongoing gusher.

Safe to say . . . this is one lardaceous mess that’s only growing.

A little more watercolor from yesterday . . . the rainbow injects magic into what otherwise might just be distant Brooklyn waterfront, Clipper City, and a Staten Island ferry.

Here’s what creates the conditions for a rainbow.

Color on water, this time reflecting a certain survey boat with unique paint loss patterns.

You will notice an apparent repetitiveness in the next set of fotos of Frying Pan over at Pier 66 Maritime–my favorite place on the Manhattan waterfront, except not

really.  The evanescent colored shapes so took me that I just keep shooting as

Harvey‘s propwash made ripples and

swirls and pulsations and

teases, glimpses of  LV-115 Frying Pan‘s chartreuse hairy nether parts.

All was fine until I imagined what other situations exist that colors the

waters this living red or

rusty, risky brown .

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

Old American tugs adorn other ports, and vessels that began life far away sometimes adapt to places like or near the sixth boro.  This is true of the vessel below, fotos of which come from Matt of Soundbounder.  Notice in small print the port of registry.

Does Mon Lei really mean 10,000 miles, and does that mean a literal distance of that length or … just so far that it feels like infinity?  Does anyone recall seeing the red junk in New York harbor or farther up the Hudson?   Does this foto show the same vessel, and if so, where was this foto taken?  I believe it was built near Hong Kong just before World War 2, as there seems some indication it’s much older than that.

So, clearly I am intrigued and would love to see this vessel in Norwalk, Connecticut.

Andrew writes:  “Mon Lei for many years was tied up first on the East River at the 23 st boat basin and then I last saw her  on the west side by Intrepid. Years ago I spoke with a 23 st harbor master who stated that Mon Lei was owned by an actor (unnamed) who lived on the boat during the warmer months here in New York.”  Thanks, Andrew.  I’d love to learn more.

Any answers, please get in touch.  If you know the owner, I’d like to talk.

I’d like to use this post to offer some boat rides via Youtube;  my goal here is to use this approach–with some reservations–to get a sense of differing senses of harbor and waterfront, since some conflicting visions of “waterfront sixth boro 2020” are currently being debated.

Hong Kong 50 years ago (3 minutes) and a junk in contemporary Hong Kong (4.5 minutes)

Welcome to the Bosphorus (6.5 minutes)

Yokohama (4 mnutes)

Rotterdam (3.5 minutes) I didn’t care for the music.

Shanghai (almost 2 minutes)

Singapore (4 minutes)  From what I can see here, Singapore is my favorite solution to openness of the waterfront; at least in SOME locations, it’s be great to have the stairsteps right to the water, with no lawsuits allowed if inadvertent splash happens.  As for swimmingsuits, they are allowed but not required.

Sydney (25 seconds)

Victoria (10 minutes)

An old tugster post here showing some of waterfront Bangkok.  Remote waterfront homes slideshow here.

Bathing in the Ganges here.

Otherwise, all fotos here from Matt at Soundbounder.

Just in case you haven’t guessed, tugster rides the tour  bus into the outskirts of Talltalesville sometimes . . . and in his offices along the KVK is reputed to converse with historical personages (more on this at end of post) and  . . . birds.  Like earlier this week, I was just comparing Easter dinner notes with Merg, one of my favorite red-breasted mergansers, and the conversation turned toward olives , my favorites, pitted kalamatas.  Did I say this “office” is near Snug Harbor, a place ghosts reputedly inhabit?  In this link see the last one third for ghosts.

When I noticed Merg’s crest was a bit wilder than a few minutes before,  I followed its line of sight and

I understood.  Shape and scale were both formidable.

Our conversation interrupted, Merg veered to starboard

as this leviathan followed.

Enough already, croaked Merg, heading for the east.

And if the immensity of the blue vessel were not enough, from alongbehind appeared . . . is it Laura K?

That was it for Merg, who dove.  Oh, the great blue container ship is Maersk Kalamata, the closest vessel to 1000′ loa I’ve seen in boro 6 in a bit.  Note Robbins Reef light just forward of the bow.

Marginally related:  the foto below dates from March 2, 2010 in the KVK.  I thought it was a seal.  I saw something (dark shape just to the left of bubbles) swim quite fast just below the surface, but now I’m thinking it might be a dolphin.  Anyone weigh in?  I know there’s not much fotografic clue here.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

Personages:  A few weeks ago, while I was relaxing on the dock aka my “office” in front of Sailor’s Snug Harbor, an older man ambled down the stairs and walked over to me.  I watch my back and front, so paid attention for awhile.  When he avoided eye contact  and seemed harmless and as fixated on the water as I was, I went back to shooting what passed.  After a few minutes, he waved and said, Foto, foto,”  while pointing to himself.  No matter what I said or asked, all he said was “foto foto,” so I figured why not and snapped his picture.  When I asked his name, he handed me a pizza menu.  Strange, given that he was Asian and I would swear he was Ho Chi Minh or at least his body-double recently.  By the way, HCM lived in Manhattan and Brooklyn between 1912 and 1918 after having worked in the galley of a ship a few years.)    I wouldn’t make this up.  So if that was you, get in touch and I’ll send the foto foto.

aka poisson d’avril, which is what the French call this delightful day.  At that link in previous sentence, check out the list of  (they say) well-known pranks.

A year ago, I put up a post that I’ve now concluded shows a hoax, a doctored foto . . . although I did not know it was a fake or intend it to be one.  I’d still like more analysis of what this shows and who did it.

I mention last year’s post because I heard about Edgar Allen Poe’s April 1, 1829 misinformation involving the lighthouse then at this location:  Lazaretto Point in Baltimore.  The hoax?  A man would fly from the world’s tallest structure–then Shot Tower–across the harbor and Fort McHenry to this lighthouse.  A crowd gathered here and waited . . . until nothing happened and the date began to sink in.    Poe was given to other hoaxes like the Balloon hoax of 1844.  He should just have called it “science fiction.”  By the way, Poe has figured prominently twice before in tugster:  here and here.

Hoaxes are sometimes well-received; other times the response might be prosecution.  Periodically I put up silly stuff, just for fun, like this one featuring light fixture reflections on the Staten Island ferry, never claiming otherwise.  Like those below . . . just a kid’s soap bubbles, or  . . .  you never know.

Captain James restaurant is no hoax but a unique Baltimore eatery.  New York hoaxes?  The Madoff gang comes to mind, like a nagging migraine.  More interesting is Orson Welles, but a century before the New York Sun published a story about an astronomer’s sightings of biped beavers, man-bats, and blue unicorns on the surface of  the moon.

Water on fire?  Remember the Cuyahoga in the mid-20th century?  But how about this youtube video . . . burning tap water?  Not a hoax.  Floating sand?

New statue dedicated to Jim Morrison or some other ecdysiast?

See you at the Fool’s Parade at the intersection of 14th Ave and Canal Street on the first of April . . . muster around noon?  After the parade, which’ll feature ALL the workboats of the sixth boro doing laps in front of the Statue and stopping at a barge spudded there with all manner of eats free for the taking by the BEST grubistas on the nearby shores and music & dancing to please every tongue and ear and eye and limb, there’ll be a bash in front of Snug Harbor:  all the orange juice you can drink and escargots au vin sans limites, maybe even some good eats from GMG, eh Joey?

Great sci-fi short stories based in New York:  The Third Level and Accidental Time Traveller by Jack Finney.  The third level refers to stairways leading to time portals located below the passenger boarding area in Grand Central, detours I look for when I’m not interested in boarding a train to work.

Oh, the statue . . . not a hoax but Orpheus himself, signed by Warren G. Harding.

Fotos by Will Van Dorp.  Again, thanks to Allen Baker for the Baltimore “local knowledge.”

For the definitive beastiary, I’m delighted bowsprite has me bested, but enjoy my beasts.  First, can you guess the creature shown below and its location.  It was taken a few weeks ago by a co-worker, Carol Biederstadt.

And six weeks ago and 60 degrees colder than today, dogs and iceboats . . .

More dogs and iceboats.  These dogs just wanna …  go gliding,  just as other dogs love to stick their heads out of  car and truck windows.

Less common might be dogs on tugboats.  Matt of Soundbounder caught this dog aboard Petersburg on Block Island a while back.  Thanks, Matt.  By the way, scroll through Matt’s February posts on various commercial fishing  industries on Long Island Sound.

Wharves  can produce a bountiful living for felines like Chiclet.

In the iceboaters parking lot near Tivoli Bay, I caught this bumper sticker, and it turns out this points us toward very strange urban animal legend with its own Uncyclopedia article, sort of;

it’s like another beast that prompted a press conference recently in front of City Hall proclaiming the February 9 to be “Alligator in the Sewers” Day;  in 1935, the NYTimes ran a story about the sighting of an eight-foot 120-pound alligator in the city sewer.  The speaker behind the podium is Michael Miscione, Manhattan borough historian.  See Newyorkology coverage here.

Here’s the proclamation.

Off to look for more animals.  Year of the Tiger . . . steaks anyone?  OK, I must have a vessel of some sort in this post.  Thanks to Harold Tartell, a high-n-dry West coast tug, one I’ve never seen:  Woooo-huuuu!

The top foto shows a harp seal on the beach in Spring Lake, New Jersey.  It was alive–in spite of the cut visible on its back–and taken to the Marine Mammal Standing Center in Brigantine, NJ, where Carol works as a volunteer.  Coincidentally, read this story about one was spotted this winter all the way up in Kingston, NY’s Rondout Creek.  I saw a seal in the KVK a few weeks ago, but it was swimming quickly and I couldn’t get a foto.

Many thanks to Carol for her foto of seal, Matt for dog, and Harold for Tiger.   If you’ve any good water beast shots, I’d love to see them.

Meanwhile, for a preview of new movie on this topic, check out SeaFever.

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Graves of Arthur Kill

Click to order your copy of Graves of Arthur Kill, by Gary Kane and Will Van Dorp. 3Fish Productions.

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More Photos

Seth Tane American Painting

My other blogs

My Babylonian Captivity

Reflections of an American hostage in Iraq, 20 years later.

Henry's Obsession

My imaginings and bowsprite's renderings of Henry Hudson's trip through the harbor 400 years ago.

Tale of Two Marlins

Blue Marlin spent 600+ hours loading tugs and barges in NYC Sixth Boro. Click on image for presentation made to NY Ship Lore and Model Club, July 25, 2011.

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