Hungry Cormorants Are Hungry — And Fishing in the East River

The East River separates Manhattan from Long Island, and we live about 300 feet from it here in Astoria. When walking along the shoreline of nearby Astoria Park, your first thought probably isn’t “wow, what a gorgeous natural habitat in the heart of New York” but instead “wow, there are probably decades of dead bodies mired in that muck.”

I don’t know a lot about the health of the East River ecosystem, if it’s slowly recovering from the days when the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn shorelines were heavily industrial and people didn’t give a second thought to dumping toxic materials overboard. The reason it’s so hard to tell? The water doesn’t look alive, and the shoreline — at least in Astoria Park — is covered by broken glass. When waves roll in, it sounds like wind chimes, which is the glass clanging together. Still, the park is an incredibly charming place, one of my favorite spots in the whole world:

Civilization at Dusk

Image by ·BigGolf· via Flickr

And today, I had some confirmation that there are at least two signs of  life: cormorants and fish. As I was walking Charlie, I noticed a cormorant zooming around just under the water. Then, she surfaced right by us, a small fish in her beak! Wow! I watched her keep fishing, and in under two minutes she caught about 9 more fish. I would have kept watching but Charlie was utterly bored and ready to move on.

So, I love these tiny moments (just like the robin I photographed last week from my kitchen window). In spite of our destructiveness, Mother Nature somehow thrives.

One thought on “Hungry Cormorants Are Hungry — And Fishing in the East River

  1. doranyc says:

    Adam and I saw jelly fish a few years ago. One of the jelly fish was trapped on a rock, the other was about to meet the same fate. And I always see rats on the rocks but they don’t count…

    Anyhoo, WOW. I don’t think I’ve seen those birds on the river before. That’s awesome! Gene says there are clear signs that the health of the river is improving because in Silver Beach they are now seeing critters they never saw when they were kids, especially hunters. He thinks that means the fish are more edible and plentiful now. They’ve always had horseshoe crabs, which I think are cool.

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