Study: Jamaica Bay wetland islands may be 200 years old

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A 1781 map of New York City. (Library of Congress)

NEW YORK (AP) -- A Wildlife Conservation Society expert says the wetland islands in New York's Jamaica Bay may be 200 to 230 years old -- much younger than originally thought.

Senior conservation ecologist Eric Sanderson reached his conclusion by studying the changing shape of the bay using historical Dutch, English, French and American maps.

The WCS says there had been assumptions that the islands of Jamaica Bay were thousands of years old.

Recent restoration efforts have been rebuilding the marsh islands by adding sediment and planting grasses.

They had been disappearing during the 20th Century, possibly due to rising sea level, pollution and wave action.

Sanderson also says the Rockaway Peninsula didn't exist a few centuries ago. Waves and storms caused it to grow in "fits and starts" over the last 400 years.