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PHOTOS: Red Tide Plagues North Fork Waters

Toxic algal bloom has become an annual occurrence in East End waters.

Streaks of red tide — a toxic algal bloom that threatens marine life — were clearly visible in Greenport and Shelter Island bay waters during a flyover this past Thursday.

Aerial photographer captured images of red tide lining the shores.

Red tide has appeared in Long Island waters every summer since 2004, Chris Gobler, Ph.D., told Patch earlier this month, when the algal bloom .

Gobler, a School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences professor, said red tide typically appears in late August, but this summer it was detected in late July. The early arrival could be attributed to high temperatures this summer, he said.

"This red tide is caused by the dinoflagellate, cochlodinium," Gobler explained. "Cochlodinium is not a human health threat but is highly toxic to marine life.  Fish exposed to dense cochlodinium blooms cannot survive more than one to six hours, depending on their size. We have had fish die at the Southampton marine lab when our intake system brought in red tide water."

After patches of red tide have passed through, pound net fisherman have found that catches have died off, he added.

The School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, , announced Monday a plan to restore the health of another local bay, Shinnecock, by seeding eelgrass and shellfish beds in strategic areas where they are most likely to thrive. Shellfish filter algae from water, but their populations in Long Island waters have declined in recent decades, a trend marine sciences hope to turn around.

If the effort proves successful, it could be implemented in other distressed bodies of water, both locally and around the world.

Research demonstrates that algal blooms are made worse by an increased flow of nitrogen into the bays, from sources such as cesspools and fertilizers, Gobler said.

James Cope September 02, 2012 at 02:36 PM
Can't open/find article on reported closed beaches!? Whats up? Jim C
James Cope September 02, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Can't open/find report on closed beaches!? Whats up? Jim C
Paul Silansky September 02, 2012 at 07:20 PM
Read the book "The most important Fish in the Sea". For the sake of fertilizer and fish oil we have allowed commercial fisherman to exhaust the supply of the Menhedan or "bunker". This fish is the link in the supply chain between algae and plant life where it gets its oils and gamefish - blues, strippers etc that in turn consume them to get their oils. The lowly bunker travel in huge schools with each fish cleaning up to 6 gallons of water per minute leaving our inlets sparkling. They spawn in the now oxygen-starved Chesapeake Bay where they are taken by the school before being able to migrate up the atlantic coast. Bring back the Bunker and you will have solved the problem at its root. So now the "scientists" want to reduce nitrogen so we have no algae so the bunker if they are allowed to migrate will have no food anyway and the gamefish will continue to have no food and continue to become more and more sparse every year. Smart people, hard work, just a bit misguided. - Paul Silansky

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