NY Bight to Jamaica Bay
5 DAY FORECAST
PRIME FEEDING TIMES
Jamaica Bay is located on the southwestern tip of Long Island in the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, New York City, and the town of Hempstead, New York/hamlet of Inwood. The bay connects with Lower New York Bay to the west through Rockaway Inlet and is the westernmost of the coastal lagoons on the south shore of Long Island. Maps of the city as late as 1910 identify the bay as Grassy Bay. Jamaica Bay is located adjacent to the confluence of the New York Bight and New York Bay, and is at the turning point of the primarily east-west oriented coastline of New England and Long Island and the north-south oriented coastline of the mid-Atlantic coast.
The location of Jamaica Bay combined with the rich food resources found there make it a regionally important fish, wildlife, and plant habitat complex. This geographic location acts to concentrate marine and estuarine species migrating between the New York Bight portion of the North Atlantic and the Hudson-Raritan Estuary. Shorebirds, raptors, waterfowl, landbirds, and various migratory insects are concentrated by the coastlines in both directions. These migratory species are further concentrated by the surrounding urban development into the remaining open space and open water of Jamaica Bay. Jamaica Bay and nearby Breezy Point support seasonal or year-round populations of over 330 species of special emphasis and listed species, incorporating 48 species of fish and 120 species of birds.
Jamaica Bay is a saline to brackish, eutrophic (nutrient-rich) estuary covering about 25,000 acres (100 km2), with a mean depth of 13 feet (4.0 m), a semidiurnal tidal range averaging 4.9 ft (1.5 m), and a residence time of about three weeks. The bay communicates with Lower New York Bay and the Atlantic Ocean via Rockaway Inlet, a high current area that is 0.6 mi (0.97 km) wide at its narrowest point, with an average depth of 23 ft (7.0 m). Measurements taken during recent surveys in Jamaica Bay indicate average yearly ranges for temperature of 34 to 79 °F (1 to 26 °C), salinity of 20.5 to 26 parts per thousand, dissolved oxygen of 3.5 to 18.5 milligrams/liter, and pH of 6.8 to 9. Loadings of nutrients and organic matter into the bay from sewage treatment plants and runoff result in phytoplankton blooms and high suspended-solid concentrations which, in turn, result in turbid water and low bottom dissolved-oxygen concentrations.
Jamaica BayThe center of the bay is dominated by subtidal open water and extensive low-lying islands with areas of salt marsh, intertidal flats, and uplands important for colonial nesting waterbirds. The average mean low tide exposes 350 acres (1.4 km2) of mudflat, 940 acres (3.8 km2) of low salt marsh dominated by low marsh cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora), and 520 acres (2.1 km2) of high marsh dominated by high marsh cordgrass (Spartina patens). The extensive intertidal areas are rich in food resources, including a variety of benthic invertebrates and macroalgae dominated by sea lettuce (Ulva latuca). These rich food resources attract a variety of fish, shorebirds, and waterfowl. In addition, two freshwater impoundments were created on Rulers Bar Hassock in the Jamaica Bay National Wildlife Refuge; the smaller 49 acres (0.20 km2) freshwater West Pond is kept as open water, and the larger 120 acres (0.49 km2) slightly brackish East Pond is controlled to expose mudflats. Some of the islands in the bay have upland communities, including grasslands consisting of little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), and seaside goldenrod (Solidago sempivirens); scrub-shrub containing bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica), beach plum (Prunus maritima), sumac (Rhus spp.), and poison ivy (Toxidendron radicans); developing woodland consisting of hackberry (Celtis occidentalis), willow (Salix spp.), black cherry (Prunus serotina), and tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima); and beachgrass (Ammophila breviligulata) dune. Species introduced in the Refuge to attract wildlife include autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata), Japanese black pine (Pinus thunbergii), and Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii).