Volunteers and Scientists Seed Shinnecock Bay with Eel Grass

During a second annual event hosted by the Stony Brook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences on Saturday, volunteers and SoMAS scientists and students worked to help restore the ecological health of Shinnecock Bay by seeding eelgrass.

Shellfish and other marine life depend on eelgrass habitat for growth and survival, according to SoMAS professors.

“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, the program coordinator for ShiRP. “It is something that the community can get involved with and make a positive impact.”

Associate Professor Bradley Peterson and his team harvested adult reproductive eelgrass shoots from the bay, then volunteers separated thousands of eelgrass shoots in water-filled tubs, looking at each individual piece for seeds. Seed were piled in mesh bags, tied to a cord anchored by cinder block with a buoy for identification, and then the bags were brought to drop points in Shinnecock Bay.

Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. and volunteers separate eelgrass shoots looking for seeds.

Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. and volunteers separate eelgrass shoots looking for seeds.

The group handled 8,200 reproductive shoots, each containing roughly 50 seeds, for a total of approximately 410,000 seeds being dispersed.

Volunteers separate eelgrass shoots looking for seeds.

Volunteers separate eelgrass shoots looking for seeds.

“Efforts like these will help to restore the ecosystem functions and economic value of our local bays,” said Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., who pitched in at the event.

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