Last May, in a joint research project involving Queens College, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and the New York City Parks Department, graduate student George Jackman (Biology) documented the presence of juvenile glass eels in the Bronx River. “It was the first time they were reported in the Bronx,” says Jackman, whose data will support efforts to reverse depletion of the local eel population.
In the low water, he also uncovered evidence of a different kind of New York City wildlife. “I stepped into the river and found the magazine of a gun,” recalls Jackman. A retired lieutenant with the New York City Police Department, he knew the magazine came from a large-caliber Glock and, after joking that he’d find the rest of the pistol nearby, he did just that—to the amazement of a French film crew that was on site making a nature documentary. “The crew thought it was staged,” he says.
Jackman not only called NYPD but also followed up a week later with the appropriate precinct; as he expected, ballistics showed that the Glock had been used in a recent shooting. “Nobody throws away an operative Glock worth more than $2,000 in street value,” observes the ex-cop. He was equally unsurprised to learn that the victim couldn’t recall who shot him 10 times. Nor was Jackman concerned about his own safety in this true-crime drama. Thanks to another artifact he found in the river—a Santeria icon—“I knew I was protected,” he says.
“The Bronx River is fascinating,” concludes Jackman. “Anybody can do restoration in a rural area. Who knows what you’re going to find here? That’s the uniqueness of being a marine biologist in New York City.”
Assistant Director of News Services