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Volunteers Team Up With Stony Brook University To Help Revitalize Shinnecock Bay

Elsie Boskamp

Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. and volunteers separate eelgrass shoots looking for seeds. (Courtesy Photo)

More than 40 East End volunteers teamed up with members of the Stony Brook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS) on Saturday, June 14, 2014 in the hopes of helping to revitalize Shinnecock Bay. This was the second annual event to improve the bay's conditions by restoring eelgrass habitats in areas where it was otherwise destroyed.

"Although the problems occurring in the Bay can seem overwhelming — from algal blooms such as brown tides to vanishing shellfish populations — the Shinnecock Bay Restoration Program (ShiRP) is working toward solutions," said Christine Santora, Program Coordinator for ShiRP. "We're doing our best to combat problems and restore it to a place with clean water and healthy marine life."

The project occurred in three phases: first adult reproductive eelgrass shoots were harvested from the bay by SoMAS Associate Professor Bradley Paterson, then volunteers separated thousands of the fertile shoots in water-filled tubs and finally the shoots were bagged and brought to Shinnecock Bay to be installed at various points.

Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. supported the cause by joining the group during the harvest and separation process. "It was encouraging to see so many volunteers assisting Stony Brook University researchers in their efforts to help restore eelgrass in Shinnecock Bay," said Assemblyman Thiele. "Efforts like these will help to restore the ecosystem functions and economic value of our local bays."

In total, the group handled 8,200 reproductive shoots, each containing an average of 50 seeds. Approximately 410,000 seeds are currently being dispersed this season thanks to the group's efforts.

For more information, visit www.shinnecockbay.org.

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