Thursday, March 27, 2008

New York City Watertrail Map - and I Finally Saw a Seal!

Well, this is a pretty neat day for paddling in NYC - after a lot of work by a lot of very dedicated Parks folks, paddling organizations & paddlers, there's now a real live, official New York City Watertrail Map!

update - Gallery's up!

I joined a whole bunch of friends from all over to attend the ribbon-cutting - yes, a lot of us DO have jobs, but y'know, this is for us - totally worth taking a vacation day to attend. It was a nice ribbon-cutting despite the dreary day, and after the ribbon was cut, the paddlers who'd brought boats inaugurated the watertrail launch with a mad rush for the water & a lot of rolling (wooo, that water's still chilly!). I think we had paddlers there on the water from at least 4 of the 5 boroughs - I'm not sure about the Bronx, but we had people on the water from Brooklyn, Staten Island, Manhattan and Queens - good turnout!

The Sebago contingent decided to make a day of it - timing was perfect for a trip up to the Manhattan Bridge & back, and it was great to be back on the Upper Harbor.

And guess what, I finally saw a seal! Stevie spotted one hanging out on a little beach on Governor's Island. Wonderful! I'm always made philosophical noises about my failure to ever see see a seal or a dolphin or a manatee in NY Harbor when just about everyone I paddle with has seen at least one of those (INCLUDING the manatee, there was an adventurous one exploring the Hudson a season or two ago & I think it was some of the outrigger paddlers at Pier 63 who were among the earliest spotters, before a positive ID had even been made). Somehow I was just never on the right trip to catch one, I've always gone "Well, it's just nice to know they're here" - but really, I really did think it would be amazing to see one. And it was!

The seals seem to be getting more & more comfortable in the upper harbor - it wasn't that many years ago that people started spotting them on Swinburne & Hoffman Islands, two small islands just south of the Verranzano Narrows Bridge - but this winter there were 2 different sightings that made the news at 79th street, and this one was on a little beach on Governor's Island looking right across the water at Brooklyn Heights. I wonder if eventually they'll be as frequently sighted here as they are in San Francisco Bay. At any rate, it's a good sign that the area water is getting healthier and healthier - if the seals are moving into the upper harbor more frequently, that means that they are finding plenty of fish, and that's just good stuff.

Anyways - I did take some pictures, which I'll sort through & post the best of after I go wash the salt out of my hair & tend to the big bag of soggy gear.

Not of the seal, actually, er, I tried & it left, I think I scared it in a moment of OH MY GOSH A SEAL insanity, that's bad 'cause I know better than that - when we went by again on our return, though, it was back on the beach, so we didn't spook it too badly. We gave it a wider berth that time & it was happy to stay on the beach. I just have to classify seals as "neat things I can't photograph too well with the current camera", same as pretty much all the birds in Jamaica Bay.

Great day. Way more fun than work!

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