Monday, August 31, 2009

Thanks Hurricane Billy!

Yes...I am being facetious!

Although we're already a couple named storms past Billy (Danny most recently), we hadn't had a chance to check on a number of our test plots that were in his path. Today was our day to catch up. We wanted to determine what if any impact the hurricane had and decide on which of our plantings we will scale-up this fall.

So the good news is...most everything was in pretty good shape. The bad news was that it took us much longer than it should have to check on the plots since the heavy surf had moved all of our marker buoys off Plum Island more than 100 feet from their original location making it hard to find our plantings. Also, once they were found, we had to drag the buoys and cement blocks back to their original locations. We also lost a temperature logger that was attached to a cement block at one site. I think we may eventually be able to find this if we follow the trajectory the buoys and blocks took. It is amazing to think that the storm was able to move full sized cement blocks in 10-12ft of water! Fortunately, most of the plants remained in the bottom.

Although we didn't visit the site today, we did have one fatality from Billy that we noted last week. Test plots along the east side of Cartwright Shoal (not shown here) off the south shore of Gardiners Island were totally obliterated in the storm. I had high hopes for this site, but the storm changed all of that and I don't see us going back. We planting on the SE side of the shoal hoping to avoid the prevailing NW in the winter, but I hadn't planned on a storm from the NE that destroyed everything. Oh well, that's why to do test plantings before investing the time and money into large-scale plantings.

The best news today was that both Plum Island planting sites (top and left) weathered the storm. We did have some loss and damage, but all and all, the plantings made it through and we are on our way to large-scale plantings this fall. Not surprisingly, the deeper ~12ft plants looked the best, but we even had survival at the 8ft depth of the shallow station. We had assumed that the shallow plants would have been smothered or eroded. It turned out they were buried in sand, but not enough to completely cover them.

In the Sound we did see some damage at our Duck Pond Point site in Peconic, but the Horton's Point, 67 steps and Rocky Point sites all showed no sign of storm damage and look like good candidates for full-scale plantings. We will not be planting any more this fall at Duck Pond Point, but the other sites will definitely get more attention. Horton's Point (above right) and 67 steps, in particular, look to be very good candidates for full scale plantings. If Duck Pond Point makes it through the winter, it too may become a large-scale planting site.

Let the plantings begin...


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