Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge

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Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Flat land with open bay behind
Map showing the location of Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Jamaica Bay Unit of the
Gateway National Recreation Area
Location New York City, United States
Coordinates 40°36′57″N 73°49′48″W / 40.6158°N 73.83°W / 40.6158; -73.83Coordinates: 40°36′57″N 73°49′48″W / 40.6158°N 73.83°W / 40.6158; -73.83
Area 9,155 acres (3,704.9 hectares)
Established 1972
Governing body National Park Service
nps.gov/gate Official website

Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is a wildlife refuge in New York City that is managed by the National Park Service as part of Gateway National Recreation Area.

It is composed of the open water and intertidal salt marshes of Jamaica Bay. It lies entirely within the boundaries of New York City, divided between the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens. It is near John F. Kennedy International Airport, which was built upon a portion of the wetlands in Jamaica Bay. In April 1942, the City of New York started placing hydraulic fill over the marshy tidelands of the area.[1] JFK International Airport is now the sixth busiest airport in the United States with 125 gates serving over 70 airlines[2] which may pose some serious noise pollutant threats to the surrounding environment.[3]

The refuge provides habitat for a wide variety of flora and fauna, both marine and terrestrial. It is a prime location for viewing birds and bird migrations, diamondback turtle egg-laying and horseshoe crab mating and egg laying. The primary diet of the Diamondback terrapins include fish, snails, worms, clams, crabs and marsh plants, many of which are abundant in these particular marshlands.[4] Ospreys are currently being captured, tagged and studied in the Wildlife Refuge to help scientists better understand the birds' habits.[5] Small mammals such as Eastern Gray Squirrels[6] and raccoon[7] are also present in the area. The recently increased raccoon population however has developed a taste for diamondback turtle eggs and many nests are often destroyed only 24 hours after being laid.[8] The extent of the refuge is mostly open water, but includes upland shoreline and islands with salt marsh, dunes, brackish ponds, woodland and fields. It is the only "wildlife refuge" in the National Park System. Originally created and managed by New York City as a wildlife refuge, the term was retained by Gateway when the site was transferred in 1972. Usually, federal wildlife refuges are managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Features created under city ownership include two large freshwater ponds. A visitor center with a parking lot provides free permits to walk the trails.[9]

Conservation awareness sign circa 1973; photograph: Arthur Tress
Bird watching has always been a popular activity at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge; photograph: Arthur Tress, June 1973

On March 1, 1962, at 10:08:49, American Airlines Flight 1 crashed into Pumpkin Patch Channel, a remote area of marshland on Jamaica Bay that is part of the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "History of JFK International Airport". The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Retrieved 3 October 2013. 
  2. ^ "(JFK) John F. Kennedy International Airport Overview". FlightStats, Inc. Retrieved 3 October 2013. 
  3. ^ Cohen, Beverly; Brozaft, Arline; Goodman, Jerome; Nádas, Arthur; Heikkinen, Maire (February 2008). "Airport-Related Air Pollution and Noise.". Journal of Occupational & Environmental Hygiene. 5 (2): 119–129. 
  4. ^ "Diamondback Terrapin". Defenders of Wildlife. Retrieved 3 October 2013. 
  5. ^ Foderaro, Lisa (2 May 2012). "An Earth-Bound View Of Where Ospreys Soar.". The New York Times. 
  6. ^ Huynh, Howard; Williams, Geoffrey; McAlpine, Donald; Thorington, Richard (December 2010). "Establishment of the Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) in Nova Scotia, Canada". Northeastern Naturalist 17 (4): 673–677. 
  7. ^ Burke, Russell; Felice, Susan; Sobel, Sabrina (December 2009). "Changes in Raccoon (Procyon lotor) Predation Behavior Affects Turtle (Malaclemys terrapin) Nest Census.". Chelonian Conservation & Biology 8 (2): 208–211. 
  8. ^ Newman, Andy (17 July 2002). "Turtle Soup? Raccoons Like Eggs; A Hungry Invader Threatens Terrapins in Jamaica Bay". The New York Times. 
  9. ^ Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge New York Harbor Parks
  10. ^ AP (March 2, 1962). "Tides Hampering Hunt for Victims". The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA). p. 1. Retrieved November 22, 2009. 

External links[edit]