Archive for the tag 'beaches'

Source: Riverhead Foundation

Source: Riverhead Foundation

A baby harp seal was spotted on the shores of Brighton Beach on Saturday morning sunning himself.

The seal was seen at approximately 8:30 a.m. Police were called to the scene as a precaution, and they closed off the area using crime-scene tape for the animal’s safety, according to the Daily News.

The Riverhead Foundation, an advocacy organization that studies, rescues and rehabilitates marine mammals, was summoned to the scene. They transported the seal to a laboratory for medical evaluation where, according to Gothamist, they determined it was dehydrated due to parasites.

Harp seal and dolphin sightings in New York’s waterways have been on the rise in recent years as their population appears to boom amid cleaner waters and increased food stock.

Seals have been spotted in Jamaica Bay, the Sheepshead Bay marina and Brighton Beach, and one area cruise boat has launched occasional seal spotting trips.

Over the summer, pods of humpback whales and dolphins off the coast of the Rockaways made headlines. With the boom has also come some concern: dead and dying dolphins have washed up in Coney Island creek, the Gowanus canal and elsewhere.

Billy Weintraub at the 2009 Mermaid Parade. (Photo by Malcolm Brown via

Billy Weintraub at the 2009 Mermaid Parade. (Photo by Malcolm Brown via

Billy Weintraub just finished another year serving as a New York City lifeguard, making him the longest-serving lifeguard in the city. Observer is reporting that Weintraub just finished his astonishing 51st season of service.

Weintraub looks incredibly fit at the age of 70, and Observer detailed his inspiring training regime:

Mr. Weintraub’s workout regimen remains extensive. He trains four-to-five days per week with the other lifeguards, bikes 10 miles every other day and, on nonbike days, swims a quarter-mile in the ocean. “I have somebody from here go with me on the surfboard to make sure I don’t drown,” he said.

From a patch of sand located in Brighton Beach, Weintraub has seen it all. Observer described a few of Weintraub’s more stunning experiences dating back to the early 60s.

Mr. Weintraub remembers the needle scare of the 1980s when nobody wanted to visit the beach and its inverse, the pre-air conditioning mob scene of 1963, when five people drowned.

He has attended hundreds of heart attacks and bouts of heat exhaustion. He has seen “at least six” body parts wash up on the beach. When a leg washed up with an argyle sock on it, Mr. Weintraub called the police, who told him matter-of-factly, “We’ll just match this up with the other one.”

He once searched freezing water for half an hour before realizing the swimmer he sought had already circled the jetty and was back on the beach; Mr. Weintraub then saved his leg-cramped self with a last ditch crawl up the jetty. Another time, he saved an old woman crying, “Save my teeth! Save my teeth!” as she held her dentures above the water. He saved the teeth, too.

Observer described how Weintraub, a Bayside native, fell into the world of lifeguarding. As a swim team member at Bayside High School and Long Island University, Weintraub was encouraged to become a lifeguard by his college coach, beginning his part-time career in 1962. Weintraub primarily worked as a P.E. instructor but retired 20 years ago. My favorite passage from the article was how Weintraub met his wife:

He met his wife, Susan, right on his stretch of beach in 1966. “What happened was there was thousands of girls on the beach,” he said over pizza at L&B Spumoni Gardens in Gravesend. “I looked around, and I picked the prettiest girl.”

Classic stuff, and congratulations to Weintraub for another year looking out for all of us swimming in the ocean.


Delicious sand. (Photo By PayPaul)

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz was pleased as punch to learn about the U.S. Army Corps plan to restore 600,000 cubic yards of sand to the shores of Brighton Beach. In a press release, Cymbrowitz hailed the federal plan that not only expands the coastline but provides storm protection to blunt the impact of future storms.

Last month, we reported on the U.S. Army Corps $7.3 million contract given out to the  Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company to replenish the sand lost on the beaches of Coney Island and Brighton Beach. Cymbrowitz praised the plan as an important step to bringing the community back to pre-Sandy conditions.

“Although our area suffered significant damage during Sandy, the beach helped reduce the impact from the Atlantic Ocean and prevented things from being even worse,” Cymbrowitz said in the release. “Replacing the sand that was lost due to Sandy is an important mechanism for reducing the risk of damage should another severe storm hit us.”

As we previously reported, construction on the beach is likely to begin in August and the work is expected to be completed in the fall.

Photo Courtesy Of Kathleen Higgins

Photo Courtesy Of Kathleen Higgins

Who sculpted this masterpiece of sand? Nobody knows, but loyal Sheepshead Bites reader Kathleen Higgins sent us this cool image of a sand castle assembled on the Kingsborough Community College beach.

Kathleen was told that this mighty empire of sand once had intricate steps, walls and other features before the forces of Mother Nature began to take their toll, exactly like Jimi Hendrix predicted all those years ago.

Thanks for the pictures, Kathleen!

Photo Courtesy of Kathleen Higgins

Photo Courtesy of Kathleen Higgins

Source: NYC Dept. of Parks and Recreation

Source: NYC Dept. of Parks and Recreation

The New York City Parks Department began installing temporary bathrooms on the Riegelmann Boardwalk in Brighton Beach this week after construction snafus and community opposition plagued a plan for a permanent comfort station by the Oceana condominium complex. But the city says it’s still going through with its long-term plan to place the elevated bathrooms in “New Brighton,” meaning the installation is hardly a victory despite the claims of local leaders.

The $2 million pod-like bathrooms, elevated to heights recommended by FEMA to withstand future flood conditions, first began appearing on the boardwalk in May. A planned potty in front of the Oceana luxury condominium complex (50 Oceana Drive West) brought outrage from residents who said the bathrooms would block their million-dollar views and attract homeless people and rowdy teenagers. The Parks Department shrugged off the complaints, despite opposition from pols including Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz and District Leader Ari Kagan, the latter a candidate for City Council.

As the project moved forward, construction crews struck upon bedrock while driving support pilings into the ground, forcing them to alter plans. Opponents also filed a lawsuit that heads to court later this month.

Parks then announced they would install temporary bathrooms on the boardwalk at Coney Island Avenue in order to provide service to the community. The stations were delivered Monday night.

News of the temporary stations was met with cries of victory from the elected officials who sided with Oceana residents.

“I’m pleased that the Parks Department listened to residents who wanted the comfort stations moved elsewhere. This is a victory for the community, but more important, beachgoers will finally have comfort stations in a busy and accessible location,” Cymbrowitz said in a press release touting the achievement.

Likewise, in a release about improving lighting and safety conditions on the Brighton Beach end of the boardwalk, Kagan claimed victory over the “new” location.

“We are happy the city has listened to the community with regards to the bathroom,” Kagan said.

Cymbrowitz added that the temporary location was a “win-win” for all involved, saying that Parks was responsive to a letter he wrote the mayor asking that the temporary location be moved away from Oceana.

Parks, though, told Sheepshead Bites that the long-term plan is still the same: to place permanent structures at “New Brighton” – the location of the Oceana complex. Moreover, a spokesperson added, the decision to place temporary structures near Coney Island Avenue had little to do with local opposition: it was simply the most logical place to put them while construction was underway on the permanent location.

“Due to the ongoing construction to prepare for the permanent bathroom facility at the New Brighton site, Parks selected Coney Island Avenue as a logical alternative site for the temporary facilities until the New Brighton site is complete,” said Parks spokesperson Meghan Lalor.

The modular pod unit is currently at a staging site on Brighton 15th Street, where it will remain until it’s ready to be installed at the permanent site at New Brighton.

Source: wheany/Flickr

Source: wheany/Flickr

I have already visited the beach at Coney Island many times this year and what has struck me the most is how much cleaner it appears to be than in years past. Previous to my many sojourns to the shore this year, I had last been two summers ago and my striking memory was how gross it was. Garbage littered the sands and the ocean. The experience was so bad that it kept me away for a long time.

But the question remains, how clean is the beach exactly? Well, Gothamist recently reported on a Natural Resources Defense Council study that yielded surprising (or unsurprising, depending on your level of cynicism) results about the beaches at Coney Island and Brighton Beach.

In the study, beaches across America are graded on a five-star scale, and the beaches between Brighton 6th Street and Ocean Parkway, and Ocean Parkway to West 8th Street - the area most people except scientists, apparently, refer to as Brighton Beach - received four stars , though this scoring was not uniform as you can see in the chart below.



In examining the numbers, the good news is tempered by stretches of the beach where the percentage of water samples exceeding national standards for cleanliness has increased over the past three years. Those areas? Coney Island.

Beaches cannot have more than three stars if they exceed five percent of the national average, which is the case from West 8th Street, heading west. If you’ve got a phobia of particle matter that may or may not be human waste or manufacturing waste or some other waste… your best bet is to stick to the four star areas between Brighton 6th and Ocean Parkway.

The biggest cause of pollution comes from sewage overflow. According to Gothamist, New York City experiences 30 billion gallons of sewage spillover each year. Superstorm Sandy accounted for five billion gallons of sewage spillover when it trashed the city late last October.

While that news is disgusting, Brighton Beach is still your best bet for summer ocean swimming as it was the highest ranked of all New York beaches with the ‘good stretch’ of it being no more polluted than any other beach in America. As for Coney Island, well, it could be worse – but, hey, this still ain’t bad compared to we might imagine water conditions to be after all of Southern Brooklyn’s trash and street chemicals washed into it in October.

For those wondering, by the way, there was no accounting for Manhattan Beach in the report.

Where do you prefer to take in some sun and brave the waters?


As we all know by now, the Army Corps of Engineers has been hard at work replenishing sand at Plumb Beach and installing long-term fixes to prevent against future erosion.

At ground level, the one thing you notice is that, hey, there’s actually a beach again in that area near the parking lot closest to the Belt Parkway. That section was the most heavily eroded, with just a few feet of sand bags between the water and the highway. Now there’s a nice stretch of sand. Other than that, though, it’s hard to see the extent of the work.

Until now. A local photographer who asked not to be named sent in this fantastic aerial photo of Plumb Beach after the Army Corps of Engineers completed phase one of the project, in which they pumped in fresh sand from the Ambrose Channel. That’s Gerritsen Beach in the forground.

In phase two of the project, Army Corps contractors have closed off the parking lot and bike path as they bring in equipment. They’ll be constructing two rock jetties at either end of the eroded section. One will go near where the sand roughly drops away in the photo above, and the other will be just at the right edge of the image. They’ll also add a groin in the middle – a man-made sandbar of sorts that will help diminish the power of the waves before they strike the sand.

The project is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Beachgoers beware: beginning this weekend, Manhattan Beach’s parking restrictions take effect, limiting where you can park if you plan a Saturday or Sunday trip to the neighborhood.

NYC Parking Regulations in Manhattan Beach prohibit parking your cars on the streets on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays through September 15.

Who left their ugly RV on the beach?

We’ve received a lot of e-mails these last few days about what’s going on at Brigham Street, south of Emmons Avenue. The stretch of street that abuts the waterway was been closed off by police, and cranes, barges and construction equipment have taken up the space since Monday.

No, it ain’t the beginning of Brigham Street Park. You’ll have to wait a few more years for that one.

The answer lies in a post we did a few days ago where we updated about the new Brighton Beach and Coney Island bathrooms. In it, we also included the schedule of street closures that goes along with it. Among the closures:

Brigham Street South of Emmons Avenue from midnight Monday, May 6, to 6 a.m. Friday, May 10.

That’s because the new stations arrive in one piece. That’s right – huge, truck-sized structures – barreling through New York City’s streets. That, understandably, didn’t seem like such a good idea to local planners. So, instead, the structures arrive by barge, are lifted off it by a crane, placed onto a truck, taken to their location, lifted off the truck by a crane, and installed on the concrete piles already installed – much to the chagrin of local residents.

Brigham Street appears to be the area planners identified as the best, most accomodating option to make that first move from barge to truck. So that’s what all the commotion is about.

Oh, and the bathrooms have arrived. The one at the top of this post was placed on Brighton Beach this morning, and photographed by reader Ira Rubinsky. Nope, that’s not an abandoned RV on the beach…

Here’s the view of the crane at Brigham, as seen from the Breakers:

Photo by Albert

Source: National Parks Service

Hundreds of horseshoe crabs invaded the subtle slopes of Plumb Beach’s shoreline in their own sex-fueled, prehistoric rendition of the Allied invasion of Normandy last week, as horseshoe crab mating season kicked off on Thursday, April 25.

The National Parks Service snapped the photo above of some of the crabs getting down and dirty. The animals have been taking to soft-sloped beaches of the mid-Atlantic during the spring’s new and full moons for 400 million years, one of the few living species known to predate the earliest dinosaurs. Female crabs come ashore and deposit up to 20,000 eggs each, followed by a handful of males clinging to their tails and fertilizing the eggs in their wake.

The crabs come up in late April, May, and throughout June – just before high tide or long after sunset – during full and new moons. You can see them around the following dates:

  • Thursday, April 25, 2013 (Full Moon)
  • Friday, May 10 (New Moon)
  • Saturday, May 25 (Full Moon)
  • Saturday, June 8 (New Moon)
  • Sunday, June 23 (Full Moon)
  • Saturday. July 6 (New Moon)
  • Monday, July 22 (Full Moon)
  • Wednesday, August 7 (New Moon)
  • Wednesday, August 21 (Full Moon)

Also, check out this video Sheepshead Bites made back in 2010, when the American Littoral Society’s Don Riepe showed us around the beach and the horseshoe crab’s mating practices. Yes, it has bifurcated penises.

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