Science

The Many Creatures of the Hudson River May Surprise You

The Hudson River is far more vibrant than one might initially think

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What to Know

  • The Hudson River may seem brown and murky but it is actually a living, thriving ecosystem
  • There are 70 different species in the Hudson, including Seahorses and Oysters
  • To protect the River, New Yorkers can compost waster and use less plastic

Many New Yorkers are familiar with the Hudson River, often thinking of it as a muddy, brown waterway with not a lot of life to it. It turns out though, the river is far more vibrant than one might initially think.

“One of the most common questions we get is, is the river healthy or not? What we say it the color is not the best quality of water quality," Tina Walsh of the Hudson River Park River Project told NBC New York. The green and brown color comes from mud and silt river bottom and the many plankton living in the Hudson.

“Estuaries are incredibly diverse ecosystems, second only to rainforests. There are 70 different species that call the Hudson home,” Walsh said.

Among those 70 different species found in the Hudson, one of the more surprising of them is the Lined Seahorse. The lined seahorse is extremely sensitive to pollution, so the fact that they’re found in the river is a good sign of its health.

“A lot of times you think of a seahorse as more of a tropical fish but in fact the lion seahorse is a northern Atlantic species,” said Walsh.

Oysters are also an important species in the Hudson. As a keystone species they provide lots of ecosystem services, including filtration of pollutants and creation of habitats for other species.

The River Project aims to connect New Yorkers to the Hudson through education and outreach initiatives. They also conduct research and monitor the river, as well as check for micro and macro plastics, human pathogens and waste.

To help protect the health of the Hudson River and the organisms within it, Walsh advised not to use too much water during big storm events as the runoff enters the river, adding to pollution. She also advised New Yorkers to compost and recycle waste, as well as reduce the amount of plastic they use.

To get involved with the River Project, you can sign up to volunteer with their sustainability initiatives.

Copyright NBC New York
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