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Jun 12, 2013 9:19 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Brown Tide Returns In Western Shinnecock, Quantuck Bays

Jun 12, 2013 10:03 AM
A bloom of brown algae, known commonly as “brown tide,” has once again stained the waters of western Shinnecock, Quantuck and eastern Moriches bays the color of light-and-sweet coffee.

The infamous brown tide, which wiped out shellfish and marine vegetation across much of Long Island between 1985 and 1995, has been a persistent problem in the stretch of enclosed bays between the Ponquogue Bridge in Hampton Bays and the area just west of the Quogue Canal. It has not been observed in any significant density in the eastern half of Shinnecock Bay or the Peconics, where it did its worst damage in the 1980s.

Scientists from Stony Brook University, who have been studying the brown tide blooms annual recurrences, noted that the algae is also absent from the Great South Bay. They have credited the lack of brown tide in that area to the creation of a new inlet on Fire Island during Hurricane Sandy in October. The added flushing of fresh ocean water appears to keep the algae from gaining a foothold and blooming at great densities.

It is a lack of such flushing that the same scientists have long pointed to as the reason the brown tides have remained so persistent in western Shinnecock and eastern Moriches bays, where the tidal movements through the respective nearest inlets have little cleansing effect.

“The combination of poor flushing and intensive nitrogen loading into the eastern Moriches-western Shinnecock Bay region makes it highly vulnerable to algal blooms,” said Christopher Gobler, Ph.D., a professor at Stony Brook’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences. “We had hoped that the cooler spring and the efforts of the Shinnecock Bay Restoration Program to restock filter feeding shellfish in the bay might restrict this year’s bloom.”

Dr. Gobler and other Stony Brook scientists began a multi-year effort, funded by a private endowment, to boost the number of shellfish in the western half of Shinnecock Bay in hopes that the shellfish, which eat algae, may keep harmful blooms at bay. In addition to the brown tides in summer, western Shinnecock has seen blooms of a red algae species each of the last three springs that has forced the closure of shellfishing beds because the algae is toxic to humans. Officials do not close the bays to shellfishing when brown tides are observed, as the algae do not pose a threat to humans.

In recent years the brown tides have typically emerged in either late May and early June, and persisted through the late summer and early fall.

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What I take from this article is that we need an inlet into Moneybogue Bay!
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jun 12, 13 9:41 AM
1 member liked this comment
I agree! Be right back, I'm going to go grab my shovel
By Moneybogue (37), Westhampton Beach on Jun 12, 13 10:16 AM
3 members liked this comment
The beach in front of Mecox Bay is opened and closed by the trustees as needed to maintain salinity levels and flush out the bay, and it works well. In default of creating an inlet into Quantuck Bay for the same purpose (an unlikely prospect), we need a large pipe going under the beach, with a two-way valve and a pump so that the trustees can exchange bay and ocean water to suit conditions.

The eminent domain proceeding might not be too bruising, as the intrusion would be no more than ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Jun 13, 13 8:16 PM
Yes you obviously don't have any grasp of engineering and hydraulics- maybe someone who does could respo0nd and describe the size these pipes would have to be to exchange that much water, and the size and number of pump houses needed to push that much water. This is not a matter of digging a trench and then filling it in and leaving nothing visible
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Jun 14, 13 6:17 AM
Maybe the large volume of water you suggest needs to be moved does not have to be moved in a short period of time. If we're talking about an exchange over a period of months rather than days or weeks, then maybe smaller apparatus, running 24/7 over the entire period, would do the job, especially given that the water only has to travel a very short distance. After all, this problem has been building for years; it doesn't have to be fixed within days or weeks after the system goes on line. A 3-month ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Jun 14, 13 10:04 PM
Don't really know-- the bays are flushed daily by the changing of the tides. Quantuck Bay is the point where the tide change is "spit" between Moriches and Shinnecock inlets; therefore the water in this area does not get exchanged with water from the ocean.
You can see the cleaner water nearer to the inlets- the farther away from the inlet the less water gets exchanged and you can see the difference.

Mecox Bay is different- its a closed bay that is fed by fresh water springs and ...more
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Jun 15, 13 6:21 AM
OK, thanks.
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Jun 16, 13 3:18 PM