Heartbeats in the Muck: The History, Sea Life, and Environment of New York Harbor, Revised Edition

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Overview

An intimate look at New York Harbor's incredible arc of history, from pristine animal abundances to the suffocation of marine life, and ultimately to an ongoing but surprisingly hopeful recovery.

Heartbeats in the Muck traces the incredible arc of New York Harbor's environmental history. Once a pristine estuary bristling with oysters and striped bass and visited by sharks, porpoises, and seals, the harbor has been marked by centuries of rampant industrialization and degradation ...

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Heartbeats in the Muck: The History, Sea Life, and Environment of New York Harbor, Revised Edition

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Overview

An intimate look at New York Harbor's incredible arc of history, from pristine animal abundances to the suffocation of marine life, and ultimately to an ongoing but surprisingly hopeful recovery.

Heartbeats in the Muck traces the incredible arc of New York Harbor's environmental history. Once a pristine estuary bristling with oysters and striped bass and visited by sharks, porpoises, and seals, the harbor has been marked by centuries of rampant industrialization and degradation of its natural environment. Garbage dumping, oil spills, sewage sludge, pesticides, heavy metals, poisonous PCBs, landfills, and dredging greatly diminished life in the harbor, in some places to nil.

Now, forty years after the Clean Water Act began to resurrect New York Harbor, John Waldman delivers a new edition of his New York Society Library Award-winning book. Heartbeats in the Muck is a lively, accessible narrative of the animals, water quality, and habitats of the harbor. It includes captivating personal accounts of the author's explorations of its farthest and most noteworthy reaches, treating readers to an intimate environmental tour of a shad camp near the George Washington Bridge, the Arthur Kill (home of the resurgent heron colonies), the Hackensack Meadowlands, the darkness under a giant Manhattan pier, and the famously polluted Gowanus Canal. A new epilogue details some of the remarkable changes that have come upon New York Harbor in recent years.

Waldman's prognosis is a good one: Ultimately, environmental awareness and action has allowed the harbor to begin cleaning itself. Although it will never regain its native biological glory, the return of oysters, herons, and a host of other creatures is an indication of New York Harbor's rebirth.

This excellent, engaging introduction to the ecological issues surrounding New York Harbor will appeal to students and general readers alike. Heartbeats in the Muck is a must-read for anyone who likes probing the wilds, whether country or city, and natural history books such as Beautiful Swimmers and Mannahatta.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Will be of great interest . . . Waldman's lively anecdotal text is well documented by citations to old maps, documents, and historic photographs."-Library Journal (from the first edition)

"New York Harbor's vast network of moving or placid, fresh, brackish, and saltwater' still holds a startling variety of marine life whose past, present, and future Waldman surveys in this exemplary and compact work of popular ecology. Sometimes describing his own trips through creeks and up inlets, in the manner of John McPheen, Waldman explains what sorts of marine life live in and near the Hudson, the East River and the Meadowlands, how engineering and shipping have affected them and how decreased pollution around New York has allowed various species to begin to return."-Publishers Weekly (from the first edition)

"Heartbeats in the Muck gives the reader a sense of lost New York, of the incredibly rich and biologically diverse ecosystem that once was the lower Hudson River estuary. A great book on an very important subject."-Ted Steinberg, Case Western Reserve University

"Hurricane Sandy reminded New Yorkers that the waterways surrounding them can be a dire threat as well as a great asset. This is a good time to explore their history. John Waldman, a biology professor at Queens College, offers a brief and elegantly written tour in "Heartbeats in the Muck: The History, Sea Life and Environment of New York Harbor."-The New York Times

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823249855
  • Publisher: Fordham University Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/2012
  • Edition description: Revised
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 997,678
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

John Waldman is Professor of Biology at Queens College, City University of New York. He is recipient of the New York Society Library Award in Natural History and the Norcross Wildlife Conservation Award and is an occasional contributor to the New York Times and other periodicals.

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Table of Contents

Introduction
1. The Essential Harbor
2. Vita Marinae
3. The Medium: Sewers, Sludge, and Other Forms of Water Torture
4. The Vessel: Bank and Bottom, Bulldozers and Blasts
5. How is the Harbor Doing
6. Epilogue
7. Bibliography
8. Index

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Customer Reviews

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  • Posted January 24, 2013

    This is a must read if you live in New York City and care about

    This is a must read if you live in New York City and care about the environment. Too often, we get distracted by vanishing rainforests and coral reefs and forget about the amazing natural abundance that exists in our own backyard. Ichthyologist Jon Waldman paints a compelling picture of New York Harbor then and now. The then features hundreds of square miles of oyster reefs, striped bass and other charismatic megafauna. The destruction of the harbor brought on by overfishing, and pollution was complete. Since the Clean Water Act, many species have bounced back and while it is unlikely that The Harbor will ever return to the place it once was, we are currently witness to a biological renaissance occurring right under our noses. Read this book as a sobering tale of what not to do and a hopeful look at what a small number of dedicated individuals can do to protect and restore the environment. This new addition catches the reader up on the last ten years and features The New York Harbor School and its partners as they work to reestablish oyster reefs in New York Harbor. Read it.

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