Family Fun Day Memories.


On June 18 HarborLAB had a wonderful day providing a free paddling program and environmental education literature to  Friends of Fort Totten Parks‘ popular “Family Fun Day” in Little Bay Park on the northeastern Queens coast. As usual, we learned new things along the way!

We’re grateful to Waterfront Alliance, which coordinated the day’s waterfront programming, for inviting HarborLAB to contribute our activities alongside others as diverse as health screenings, Brooklyn College’s hands-on environmental science displays, seaweed art, and pet microchipping information. City Council Member Paul Vallone provided a mini-grant to HarborLAB to help activate this NYC Water Trail launch, and he stated that he hopes to found a permanent boating and education program out of an underused building on the shoreline. He clearly loved putting his paddle to the cove!


Erik Baard of HarborLAB and Roland Lewis of Waterfront Alliance launch City Council Member Paul Vallone and his little captain on a voyage about the Little Bay. Photo courtesy of Alison Simko/Waterfront Alliance.

Our volunteers cleaned the beach through an effort led by Jeff Lim. A good thing too as we shared the beach with a variety of beautiful plants and animals. Horseshoe crabs swam up and we gingerly moved them aside to avoid any boats walloping them as they landed. Even more astonishing was how an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly graced the beach amid the hubbub. At first we thought it was ill or dying (they live as butterflies for only weeks) but it flew with great vigor, only to very deliberately return to the beach. Some speculated that it was feeding on seaweed somehow, or even garbage! But the truth discovered through subsequent research was even more surprising: it was taking up salt from the wet sand, a normal behavior called “puddling.” Young males freshly winged out of their larval stage seek sodium ions and amino acids to enhance their reproductive abilities. They will even draw from dung and urine. Most of the time the species stays high in the canopy and feeds on flowers. Who knew that clean estuary sands helped sustain beautiful butterflies?



Eastern tiger swallowtail puddling. Photo by Erik Baard/HarborLAB.


Eastern tiger swallowtail paddling. Photo by Erik Baard/HarborLAB.

As always, our deepest thanks go to the sponsors and especially volunteers who made the day possible. Jeff Lim, Patricia Erickson, Alex Sramek, Phillip Borbon, Diana Szatkowski, Danushi Fernando, Erik Baard, Shinjie Lim, Diana Chang, Jessy Yap, Alyssa Yap, Erik Baard, Scott Wolpow, EJ Lee, David Kistner, and Manny Steier, and new friends brought by Jeff did amazing work. Thanks!

Please enjoy the gallery of photos below by Captain Margaret Flannagan and Alison Simko of Waterfront Alliance and Erik Baard, Diana Chang, and Jeff Lim of HarborLAB.