A cluster of putrefying fruit was found in the water on Thursday on the northwest portion of Charles Park, where clean-up has been a long-standing issue.
“We need to protect and clean up the shore line,” said state Sen. Joe Addabbo. “We appreciate the advocacy for the clean-up of Charles Park and do not want to see this great volunteerism go to the wayside.”
The fruit mound washed over from the Broad Channel part of the bay where Hindu worshipers sacrifice items in the water to the goddess Ganges of their religion.
It is unclear how such a large amount of fruit was able to pile up in one specific area about a half mile away from where it was sacrificed leaving the devotees puzzled.
“We honestly had no idea the items we sacrificed washed up there,” said Amar Hardeosingh, who takes part in the Hindu religious ceremony at the bay. “We try to do good for the environment and we want to keep it as beautiful as it is.”
The religious group has been taken to task before for not cleaning up after they finished their rituals, according to a 2011 article in the New York Times, but lately have been keeping up with the guidelines of the National Parks Service (NPS), which owns the land.
To practice their rituals, the religious group must get a permit from the NPS, which is a long process, according to Hardeosingh. But they have continually received the permit because of their avid clean-up once the ceremonies are over, he said.
“We sacrifice the fruit hoping that the fish will eat it but if it is piling up elsewhere it is not going toward the right cause,” said Hardeosingh, who operates a Hindu radio station and promised to announce this problem over the air waves to gather a clean-up group. “If they are rotting away in this area, it’s [the same as using] non-perishable items, which means we should clean it up.”
Unlike non-perishable items, which litter the waters of Jamaica Bay and its surrounding shorelines, this fruit usually never makes its way to the shoreline. Throwing the fruit in Jamaica Bay is technically illegal but is less detrimental to the ecosystem than the usual non-perishable garbage items and wastewater from four sewage nearby plants that end up in the bay, said Veronica Scorcia, a marine biologist.
“The whole pieces of fruit take time to break down, which makes their particulate matter insignificant compared to the sewage runoff,” Scorcia said.
The NPS is responsible for the upkeep of the park and its shoreline and Addabbo said he is getting in touch with the NPS to make sure they are notified about the fruit pile-up.
He added that NPS has made an effort to clean up the park and that residents must keep being the service’s eyes and ears to notify the NPS about any problems going on in the park.
The Charles Park Conservation Society, which has played a major role in the clean-up effort of the area, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The NPS did not immediately return a call for comment.