Liberty Over the Waves!


July 4 weekend is our time to reward the volunteers who’ve contributed so many hours of hard work to providing free educational programs on our waters and in classrooms. We found it fitting to honor the national holiday with a paddle looping around the Statue of Liberty from our launch in LIC on the Newtown Creek. What a blast!

Our theme for the day was set by this Union of Concerned Scientists report about how rising sea levels as a result of anthropogenic (human caused) climate change will threaten our national monuments. A United Nations report agreed that the damage to the Statue of Liberty and other World Heritage Sites will be “incalculable.”

The day shared by volunteers, however, was gorgeous. We’re grateful for each day of peace and plenty before CO2 emissions’ mounting toll is gravely felt, and hope we can work to prevent the worst.


The East River was glassy as we glided on the ebb past Brooklyn, easily rounding The Battery and crossing to New Jersey and drifting down to the Statue. We were well ahead of schedule. We paused at the “Wunder Bar,” a secret little submerged island of sorts where one can stand in the center of New York Harbor. We landed in the Jersey City canal community of Port Liberté.

Our return was both fun and challenging. We stopped for a dip at a beach sardonically nicknamed “Chromium Beach” for Jersey City’s industrial legacies. Instead of retracing our morning course through much busier afternoon ferry traffic, we crossed the choppy harbor to Governors Island and scooted under its south point to ride the flood up Buttermilk Channel and then onward to Brooklyn and home to Queens.

Fireworks by Kayak!


Photo by Jeffry Lim.

HarborLAB is grateful to the US Coast Guard and NYPD Harbor Unit for their safety patrols as we view the Macy’s July 4th Fireworks extravaganza by kayak. Our volunteers work hard to provide free paddling programs, classroom lectures, seeding and greening projects, and more to the benefit of thousands of New Yorkers. One reward for this donated labor is enjoying the best seats in the house for this gorgeous display of pyrotechnics.

We hope you join us in our service, learning adventures, and these earned benefits! Visit our volunteer page (tab above) and drop a note to and let us know how you’d like to help!



Swim Across America Support

Whack cancer with your paddle!

July 29
— Larchmont, Westchester County
August 5, Glen Cove, Nassau County

Join HarborLAB’s annual support for Swim Across America, a series of events to raise funds for cancer research and clinical trials. HarborLAB partners with a laboratory at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center by providing kayaks, paddlers, and other volunteers to ensure the safety of swimmers and overall event success. Please note that these events require very early starts; team team leaders or their designates will provide more information on preparation and scheduling, and will help coordinate transportation, if you’re selected.

To volunteer for these events you must register directly with Swim Across America and with HarborLAB. Kayakers must be experienced, so please include your paddling history and certifications along with your name, age, and transportation needs in your responses.

In the autumn. Memorial Sloan Kettering kindly offers laboratory tours to HarborLAB’s community of volunteers and students, which we hope will inspire further study and support. We’re particularly interested in environmental factors behind cancer.

July 29, Larchmont (Team Leader: Jeff Lim)
Long Island Sound Open Water Swim
Email with the subject line “Swim Across America: Larchmont” with the information requested above. If you’re selected, we’ll ask you to immediately register with Swim Across America directly as well.

Aug 5, Glen Cove (Team Leader, Erik Baard)
Sound to Cove Open Water Swim
Email with the subject line “Swim Across America: Glen Cove” with the information requested above. If you’re selected, we’ll ask you to immediately register with Swim Across America directly as well.

Team leaders and their designates will provide more specific information about preparation, scheduling, and help coordinate transportation.


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