2017 City of Water Day Memories — Con Ed Cardboard Kayak Race!


Billion Oyster Project for the win!

HarborLAB provided safety support for the Consolidated Edison Kayak Race, a highlight of City of Water Day, produced by Waterfront Alliance. We also fielded a team, called “The Neversinks” for our watershed program on the Neversink Reservoir. Alas, our craft didn’t live up to that name. For the third year in a row, HarborLAB’s cardboard kayak was distinguished as the fastest…sinker. It’s almost as if we aren’t really trying to win! 😉

The glory went to the Billion Oyster Project! We couldn’t have wished the win on a nicer set of bivalve molluscs.

We had a wonderful time and introduced hundreds of people to our estuary, and perhaps sparked dreams in hundreds of more to try another time!

2017 City of Water Day Memories — Public Program.


Happy novice kayakers.


HarborLAB volunteers at our education and sign-in table. 

HarborLAB volunteers provided free kayaking to hundreds of participants on Governors Island, the centerpiece of this premier NYC water ecology festival. It happens that HarborLAB Founder Erik Baard also founded the Five Borough Harbor Ramble, which became City of Water Day. We also provided an education table and met with environmental educators, activists, agencies, and students. Thanks to favorable tidal currents, we had the pleasure of paddling to the island on Saturday morning and back on Sunday morning. Campers enjoyed an astronomical navigation lecture from Captain Margaret Flanagan, education director at Waterfront Alliance, the producer of City of Water Day. A beautiful weekend!

Manhattanhenge Afloat 2 Canceled

Lightning and rain forecasts could introduce too much danger to tonight’s event, from both electricity and combined sewer overflows. As a result we must cancel. Also, clouds may obscure the marquis phenomenon: sunset through the Manhattan grid. We’ll have another event at Gantry Plaza State Park soon!

Independence Day at HarborLAB

Today we celebrate the Enlightenment values upon which our nation is founded: reason, empiricism, tolerance, liberty, and progress.

Our future depends on stopping and reversing global climate change, unsustainable energy and material exploitation, deforestation, plastic pollution, toxic industrial effluents, and other assaults on the environment. Our freedoms can’t exist in a world riven by resource wars and destabilized by refugees from climate chaos and other environmental disasters generated by humanity.

Through science — as a way of thinking, and not just its fruits — the human condition can be improved. Through respect for the rights of the few, the many are protected and gain new insights. Through freedom of expression and assembly we hear ideas and information that jar our prejudices and assumptions.

Facts matter. The individual matters. We must resist false promises and comforting lies. We must resist the siren call of scapegoating minorities, be they defined by ethnicity, faith, belief, sexuality, or gender. We need all minds to be free to contribute to solutions. Through free thought that is bound only by truth to facts, humanity can socially innovate and technologically invent our way out of the environmental traps that threaten our freedoms. That sounds a lot like the mission of America.

Happy Independence Day.



NASA: New Danger from Glacier Melt

Water Wonk Wednesdays

A weekly column on water news, tips, and innovations.


Rink Glacier in western Greenland, with a meltwater lake visible center. Credits: NASA/OIB

Researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory using novel techniques revealed in the peer-reviewed journal Geophysical Research Letters that Greenland’s glaciers are prone to losing mass faster than expected. In the record hot Greenland summers of 2010 and 2012 glacier melt water pulsed toward the ocean more powerfully than previously observed or predicted, likely providing a preview of a warming Earth. With that melting will come sea level rise that threatens coastal habitations like New York City.

More here:

NASA Scientists Reveal a New Mode of Ice Loss in Greenland


Nerds Unite Across the Seas


The scientists at UC Santa Barbara’s National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) who helped launch the Ocean Health Index to objectively measure the value and sustainability of marine services are now pioneering new means of collaboration in global research. Ocean scientists of all stripes, from Indonesia to Scandinavia, are sharing data in real time along models established by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and academics. If your eyes are glazing over, you’re missing a vital point: we have no time to spare in adapting shoreline management and fishing practices to a world in which oceans are both rising and dying.

Mote here:




Gotham’s Little Brown Bats

Flora and Fauna Fridays

A weekly entry about the life of our estuary and watershed.


Little Brown Bat. Photo by Chesapeake Bay Program.

by Erik Baard

A single Little Brown Bat, which is New York City’s most common bat species, eats up to 1,000 mosquitoes per hour. That might not be the stuff of comic books, but in our book that makes each one a true hero of Gotham.

These highly intelligent and sociable mammals protect human health and well-being by removing these disease-spreading insects and agricultural pests. Little Brown Bats rarely have rabies and they’re so unobtrusive that many New Yorkers don’t realize that so many live among us. Two terrific places to see them are the Conservatory Water (aka the model boat pond) in Central Park and the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. They love to live near water. You won’t hear the high pitched echolocation used by bats to locate their prey, but you might catch some squeaks and clicks as they pass overhead.

Sadly, a fungal disease called white nose syndrome has killed millions of these marvelous creatures. In the Eastern U.S., 94% of Little Brown Bats died over the past few years. Other bat species have been devastated too. HarborLAB is building bat boxes for donation to waterfront parks and natural preserves throughout NYC to help this species replenish itself. The boxes are simple to make. The interior is slotted to create the narrow nooks bats enjoy. The wood is scraped inside to create grooves for the bats to grip when sleeping upside down. We paint them a medium shade and face them south to absorb heat. Little Brown Bats both migrate and hibernate, with males and females sleeping together when food is scarce. The sexes separate in warmer months when insects are plentiful, though they still sleep quite a bit — almost 20 hours a day.



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