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Saving Jamaica Bay

Distributed by Passion River Films, 154 Mt. Bethel Rd., Warren, NJ 07059; 732-321-0711
Produced by Daniel Hendrick
Directed by David Sigel
DVD , color, 76 min.
Middle School - General Adult
Activism, Animal Welfare, Biodiversity, Bird Watching, Birds, Botany, Ecology, Ecosystems, Environmentalism, Fish, Gateway National Recreation Area, Natural Disasters, Salt Marshes, Urban Wildlife Management, Wetlands

Reviewed by Caron Knauer, LaGuardia Community College, Long Island City, New York

Highly Recommended  Highly Recommended   
Date Entered: 2/12/2018

Turtles (diamondback tarrapins) march toward Kennedy Airport’s runway to lay eggs. Coley the osprey’s 2,600 mile trip is tracked via GPS tagging. People practicing Hindu rituals do puja prayers at the water. Volunteers (including myself and my daughter) get into small boats to plant seeds for the Marsh Restoration Initiative so horseshoe crabs, one of the oldest animals on our planet, can thrive. Back when horses were in vogue, dead ones were buried in what’s now called Dead Horse Bay, and the detritus provides a time capsule. All of this happens at Jamaica Bay, an estuary surrounded by the Rockaway Peninsula and an hour’s drive from Manhattan, of which it’s nearly the same size. Hit hard by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, Jamaica Bay and most of Rockaway endured a devastating thrashing. Rebuilding still goes on, including putting natural barriers in place to buffer against future storms.

Self-described nature entertainer and educator Don Riepe, who grew up in the area, takes people and viewers on ecowatching tours of Jamaica Bay; fishing, birding, and kayaking are offered. Riepe and the Mundy family, who live in neighboring Broad Channel, a tight-knit community, are activists who along with their “environmental allies”, which included former Mayor Mike Bloomberg, fight the good fight, relying on activist research and laws like the Clean Ocean Act to spread awareness to help guarantee that policies will continue to protect Jamaica Bay. Susan Sarandon narrates this superb and bracing documentary, and Jonathan Sheffer composed the beautiful music. Cogently written and fluidly directed by David Sigel, Saving Jamaica Bay is as vital and essential as a horseshoe crab is to our well-being.


  • Queens World Film Festival Audience Award Documentary Feature, 2016
  • Audience Favorite Princeton Environmental Film Festival, 2016
  • Best Documentary CIFF, 2016