Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Estuaries (and Educators) Without Borders

Mar 7, 2018 | Hudson River, New York, Jobos Bay, Puerto Rico

Story by Chris Bowser, Hudson River Reserve. Photos, courtesy of Augusto Menezes.
Ernesto Olivares and I had been talking about a trip to Jobos Bay for more than a year. We were glad to make it happen last month, when I flew down with my friend, photographer Augusto (Gus) Menezes. We even got a chance to see Joan Muller from Waquoit Bay, who was part of the organized volunteer effort!
The next day we were honored to speak to an 8th and 9th grade class at the Colegio Perpetuo Socorro. The students were well behaved and in uniform, but soon opened up with smiles, laughs, and questions.

Ernesto and I took turns describing our two estuaries—manatees in one, sturgeon in the other; mangrove restoration at Jobos; eel monitoring and submerged vegetation planting in the Hudson. We kept the talk lively with a Spanish version of the “High Tide/Low Tide” estuary dance and wrapped up with the song  “Somos El Barco” ( We Are the Boat) in English and Spanish.

The next day we were honored to speak to an 8th and 9th grade class at the Colegio Perpetuo Socorro. The students were well behaved and in uniform, but soon opened up with smiles, laughs, and questions.

Ernesto and I took turns describing our two estuaries—manatees in one, sturgeon in the other; mangrove restoration at Jobos; eel monitoring and submerged vegetation planting in the Hudson. We kept the talk lively with a Spanish version of the “High Tide/Low Tide” estuary dance and wrapped up with the song  “Somos El Barco” ( We Are the Boat) in English and Spanish.

Later,  we rolled up our sleeves and started up some chainsaws. Under Ernesto’s direction, we cleared a section of boardwalk and trails through a stand of black mangroves on the Reserve. (Gus got some great time-lapse video; in fact, Gus got a lot of great footage and pictures from the whole trip. Thanks, Gus!)
The next day was a field program with high school science students from the Centro Residencial de Oportunidades Educativas ve Villalba. We investigated the Camino del Indio site, an area of mangroves, sandy beaches, and sea grass beds that the students have been studying since December 2017. The teachers and kids were wonderful! They spilled out of the bus and immediately started measuring the beach profile, troubleshooting an ROV they had built, and talking to us about how much it meant to be able to tell the world positive stories from Puerto Rico since the hurricane.
We added seining as a sampling component to the student’s monthly research protocol. Two passes in the shallows produced many treasures, including algae, colonial hydroids, two species of jellyfish, a small paddle worm, a tiny green nudibranch, and several species of shrimp and “swimming crabs” related to the Hudson River blue crab.
On our last day Ernesto took us back to San Juan, though we had time for one last get together at the quiet fishing village of Loiza with local proprietor Miguel.
While Puerto Rico is still recovering from Hurricane Maria, physically, logistically, and emotionally, the spirit of resilience and cooperation Gus and I found was truly inspirational. Driving around Jobos Bay with Ernesto was a rolling workshop of community engagement. Aitza and the rest of the staff are truly involved with their community in ways that I am taking to heart and I am going to try to make a part of my own work and attitude in New York.
Share This
ReservesHudson River, New YorkEstuaries (and Educators) Without Borders