A dozen Berkshire Waldorf High School student volunteers joined life science teachers Elizabeth Orenstein and Lee Magadini, and thousands of students and teachers up and down the river, for “A Day in the Life of the Hudson and Harbor.”
Shorefronts along the Hudson River and the piers of New York Harbor were busy with activity as thousands of students armed with seine nets, minnow pots, and water testing gear collect data on the Hudson’s fish and invertebrates, track the river’s tides and currents, and examine water chemistry and quality, during DEC’s 19th annual A Day in the Life of the Hudson and Harbor.
Students from elementary through college partner with DEC and environmental educators to collect scientific data using hands-on field techniques to capture a snapshot of the river’s ecology at more than 60 sites along the Hudson. The data collected by students provides insights into an ecosystem spanning 160 miles of the Hudson River and New York Harbor and is posted online after the event. Participating classes represent the diversity of the school population in urban and rural communities along the estuary. This year, more than 3,800 students and educators from more than 68 schools participated.
More than a field trip, “Day in the Life” gives students the opportunity to don waders or use a fishing rod to collect data on many of the Hudson’s 200-plus species of fish. Most are young fish, evidence of the Hudson’s importance as a nursery habitat. Some years students catch surprising fish like seahorses, conger eels, and needle fish. Students also examine the physical and chemical aspects of the river with a wide range of equipment, including dissolved oxygen and pH kits, refractometers, and simple plastic hydrometers to measure salinity and find the salt front – the leading edge of dilute seawater pushing up the estuary.
“Day in the Life” is sponsored by DEC’s Hudson River Estuary Program, in partnership with the Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University. (Adapted from a NYS DEC news release. Photos by Lee Magadini.)