The trail ringing West Pond is surrounded on three sides by Jamaica Bay, a 26-square-mile estuary (mix of salt and fresh water) that empties into the Atlantic Ocean. Over the course of a year, more than 80 species of fish can be found in its waters, along with horseshoe crabs, diamondback terrapins and Atlantic Ridley sea turtles. At one time, oysters were also abundant, but by the early 20th century, overharvesting and pollution destroyed the population. An experimental project to reseed the bay with oysters is now underway, with funding form the National Park Service and Hudson River Foundation. It is hoped that the return of oysters, which filter water when they feed, will reduce unhealthy levels of nitrogen and bacteria and stem the loss of marsh grass.
Above: The West Pond.