Published December 22, 2014
Tags: Brooklyn, Gowanus, Nantucket
Sea foam lapping along a bayside. This froth is created the agitation of dissolved salts, proteins, fats, dead algae, and other organic matter churning around in every ounce of sea water.Here it’s along a sheltered bay, which is probably full of organic (and, sadly, non-organic) run-off from the land and not subject to annihilating wave action by the direct ocean.And then there’s this, the foaming Gowanus. I don’t think I want to know what this is made of… and being sucked out into the bay by the tide.
Ἀφροδίτη: Aphrodite’s name comes from the word for “foam,” for she was, according to Hesiod, foam-born, from the gore caused by the flung genitals of Ouranos (Uranus, the sky), who was castrated by his son Kronos. Botticelli that! Kronos, the old charmer, would in turn eat his own children, except for Zeus, who was spirited away as a baby. Zeus would later lead his vomited-up siblings in revolt against Cronus and the other Titans, casting the giants into Tantalus. Oy, those Greeks! I bet you never saw any of this in a Disney cartoon.
Gasping at the surface near the pier, this fish was in trouble. Or so I thought. But it seemed to successfully dive back into the deeps, so it might have been feeding at something I couldn’t see on the surface. About 14″ long: what is it? And here, soon after low tide way up the Gowanus, a school of much smaller killifish, perhaps Mummichog (Fundulus heteroclitus).
When my plane descended into LaGuardia last Monday, there were a lot of gray/brown still-wintering trees in evidence. I’d just come from southern-most Texas, where spring was fully in motion, but things are stirring here, too.Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis) amid the weeping cherries, which were throbbing with honeybees, and an occasional bumble.The nacreous heart of a Chinese Mystery/Trapdoor Snail (Bellamya chinensis). Who doesn’t like saying “nacreous heart”?I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator) out of the water. Note those large feet, set rather far back, and good for diving. Totally fell for the Great-tailed Grackles down south, but the Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula) still has a place in my heart. You may know that I live between two Peregrine falcon scrapes. (Geography is relative.) There is something going on in the 55 Water Street location, either a youngster already or an adult moving. And there this one — note the band/ring — is perched on the construction site across the street from the House of D. Keeping an eye on the home front amid the grooming.The Superfund Gowanus Canal. Habitat.A male Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) was fishing in that industrial toilet, diving for the little fish that come in with the tide.
The anti-freeze color of the water is just about right here.
Published April 3, 2014
Tags: Brooklyn, Gowanus
Something oily on the Gowanus this way comes.
Published August 20, 2013
Tags: Brooklyn, fish, Gowanus
Signs of life in the Superfund Gowanus, which has a weird milky jade color (and, oy, the stink!) this time of year.
Published January 27, 2013
Tags: Brooklyn, Gowanus, mammals
The northern, terminal end of the Gowanus Canal. Where we sat down and wept when we remembered Zion. On Friday, a dolphin ended up in the canal, causing a media frenzy, including, evidently, a helicopter overhead, and the usual circus of social-media-alerted gawkers. (I was blessed to have missed it all.) The animal died in advance of plans to intervene Saturday morning. In retrospect, that seems rather predictable: it’s unlikely the animal was healthy to begin with, and the toxic sludge of the canal may or may not have been whatever the opposite of gilding the lily is. (One small consolation is that the animal was not around long enough to be given some stupid-ass cutesy-wootsie name.)
A Superfund site, erstwhile industrial gutter, the Canal is thick with heavy metals, petroleum variations, and much else. A young minke died here in 2007.
Yet there is still life on and around the canal, struggling on against our violations of the planet.
The other night at twilight, I saw at least thirty ducks on the portion of the canal above, the water still unfrozen (perhaps due to old antifreeze in the water). It was dark, but they looked to be all Mallards. In another section of the canal earlier this year, I saw three Black-crowned Night Herons hunting for the fish that come in on the tide. And overhead, there are always Ring-billed Gulls.