Marsh Walk

Salt marshes are some of the most productive ecosystems we know of, but they have traditionally been treated as wastelands and dumping-grounds. On Sunday morning, I’ll be leading a tour of Four Sparrow Marsh, one of the last salt marshes remaining in New York City, for NYC Wildflower Week. If you’d like to come you can register here. Four Sparrow Marsh is the site of a proposed mall, although the developer’s principal political sponsor is under indictment (woo-woo!), and everybody (but for some developer-profiteers) is against the asinine idea.
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Salt marsh vocabulary: ecdysis, the molting period of arthropods. Having a shell made of chitin (and some calcium, if you’ll recall my last post) means that growth is contained unless you bust out of the ol’ cage. During ecdysis, some of the calcium in the old shell is reabsorbed by the animal, to be re-used for the new shell. (“Softshell crabs” are those crabs — blue crabs are usually the ones on your plate — whose new shells haven’t yet hardened up). “Ecdysis” is from the Greek, meaning to molt or strip off. H.L. Mencken is credited with coining the term “ecdysiast” for Gypsy Rose Lee, who wanted a higher-toned term than “stripper.”Miss Lee in a publicity shot, between molts.

4 Responses to “Marsh Walk”


  1. 1 Katie June 25, 2011 at 9:19 am

    Hope your walk is well attended, by both humans and all the flowers and critters you’d like to show. Love hearing about Gypsy Rose Lee.

  2. 3 Jerry Heinzen June 26, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    Four Sparrow Marsh is one of my favorite natural areas in the city. The tour was well informed and enjoyable despite the bugs. The fact that few people visit it is understandable.
    The problem with it’s invisibility is that a developer can argue that it is unused and therefore a candidate for development. I had thought A Forever Wild designation was a protection but maybe not. Thank you Matthew.


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