The river before you is in no hurry to reach the Atlantic Ocean. The Native Americans knew that. They called it Muhheakantuck—"river that flows both ways."
The Hudson's current changes direction four times every day as ocean tides pulse upriver to the Troy dam. Drop a stick in at Troy. Drifting back and forth, it will take several months to reach the ocean.
An estuary is a place where salt and fresh water mingle. Seawater entering the Hudson meets fresh water flowing from the upper river and tributaries. In the summer, you might taste a bit of salt in Newburgh, 60 miles north of New York City.
Estuaries are among the earth's most productive ecosystems. Swimming below the Hudson's surface are 200 kinds of fish. Feasting on its riches from above are bald eagles, ducks, and herons.
Sewage discharges and destruction of wetlands once threatened this wealth of life. Anti-pollution and habitat protection measures have since turned the tide. Today the Hudson is the healthiest, most awe-inspiring estuary on the Atlantic Coast.
Let's keep it that way.
Taking the Measure of the Estuary
The Hudson flows 315 miles from Lake Tear of the Clouds in the Adirondacks to the Upper Bay of New York Harbor. It is an estuary for the 153 miles from Troy to the Bay, which extends another seven miles to the Narrows and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge between Brooklyn and Staten Island.
The Hudson's width ranges from about 500 feet at Troy to three and a half miles at Haverstraw. It is deepest at West Point—216 feet according to a 1934 survey. Depths change with the tides; water levels at high tide are three to five feet above the low tide levels.
(Text of Adjacent fish-shaped marker)Striped bass #32057 was tagged on May 12, 1989 in the Hudson River near Kingston, 90 miles north of New York City. · How many miles did it swim before it was recaptured?