Eelgrass growing in Long Island Sound
NY Daily News
Researchers revealed that a large meadow of eelgrass - a natural haven for fish and shellfish alike - has been growing in Long Island Sound near Milford Point in Orient.
Eelgrass meadows have slowly disappeared from Long Island waters, wreaking havoc on local ecosystems.
Steven Schott, a field technician for the Cornell Cooperative Extension, is part of a team of researchers that has undertaken an eelgrass restoration project in the sound in response to the newfound beds.
He said the eelgrass bed in Orient stretches for about 1 mile and extends from waters 3 feet to 10 feet deep. It is one of only two known beds near the North Shore and is located in a sort of cove that protects the area from high winds, which decimate the grass.
"We've seen hard clams, blackfish, sea bass, striped bass, lobsters and crabs, as well as juvenile winter flounder and fluke," Schott said of the eelgrass bed.
Schott said no scallops were found in the bed, though eelgrass is traditionally the mollusk's favorite hiding spot from predators.
But a scallop planting project is highly unlikely in the bed.
"Although the area is protected from winds, it still gets pounded pretty good," Schott said. "A lot of scholars don't think scallops would last there. They would get beaten up pretty badly."
Researchers have been working tirelessly in many area bays to restore the natural habitats, but until a large meadow was found in the sound, no restoration projects were undertaken there.
But Schott and a team has been planting eelgrass in the sound and report that the grass is growing "wonderfully." Schott also noted the cooler and clearer sound water makes the estuary more conducive for the eelgrass to grow.