18 June 2008

Terrapins and Terns

As part of my long-term scheme to visit and explore every part of New York City, I recently accepted an invitation to canoe around the Jamaica Bay, the protected lagoon down by JFK airport that most people don't know exists. Since a good chunk of these wetlands are lost every year, the area neatly dovetails with the general mission of Lost City.

The water isn't what you'd call pure. It has a brackish smell, which may emanate from sewage or dead organic matter, or both. But one gets uses to it after a bit. There were a lot of fishermen on the shore. Fishing for what, I can't imagine. The water never gets terribly deep and the various shores and isles are choked with grasses and reeds. Waterfowl are abundant. Hawks, seagulls, terns, sandpipers, geese, swans, ducks, cranes, herons and some others I couldn't identify. And terrapins! At first I said it was a turtle, until I saw a sign saying the area was a terrapin nesting ground. So, terrapins! And Parks Department terrapin-watch people, who roam around looking for terrapins. (We pointing them in the right direction.) And some freaky looking Horseshoe Crabs, which couldn't look more prehistoric. Plenty of dead crabs on the shore as well, the shells resembling World War I helmets.

The snaky little trails that run through the marshland are fun to explore, and occasionally you find the spooky hulk of an abandoned boat. You wouldn't expect to find cacti in New York, but some Prickly Pear were in evidence. It rained about halfway through our trip, which made the canoeing all the more exciting.


yojimbot said...

When your ready for a real adventure, give me a shout and I will show you the wormhole that is Highbridge Park!

Anonymous said...

If you haven't read Waterfront: A Walk Around Manhattan by Phillip Lopate, put it on your list. It's pretty wonderful. If yojimbot is organizing a tour of Highbridge, count me in!

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Hm. Perhaps we should organize this Highbridge tour. Whaddaya say, Yojimbot?

yojimbot said...

I say lets do it! Email me at yojimbot (at) gmail.com on how you'd like to proceed.