Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Time to catch up on old posts...

Unfortunately, I've been a little too busy with field work to take the time and post to the blog this summer. Time flies when you are busy.
Over the coming weeks, when weather keeps us in the office and as time allows, I want to provide updates on various projects we have underway. We have had some exciting results this year and we look forward to the fall planting season.

Restoration is underway at several sites in Long Island sound, Peconic Estuary and in the South Shore Estuary Reserve. Plantings range in size from small-scale test plots to large scale multiple acre sites.

Monitoring is underway in all estuaries especially in the PE with increased attention focusing on light and temperature measurements in existing eelgrass, historic eelgrass and potential restoration sites. Another large project is underway in cooperation with Fred Short at UNH involving collection of plant samples for genetic analysis.
Expect more specific updates soon...


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Spring Fauna

Now that summer is here, I thought it would make an opportune time to mention our more interesting animal encounters from this spring. It seems like every year, we start our spring dive season earlier and earlier, and this year the weather was exceptionally warm and beautiful for the most part. We began monitoring last year’s plantings by mid-March, but I have to say didn’t see too many fish while diving…the water was still too cold at this point I am guessing. By the first week of April, pipefish, gobies, and even a yellowtail flounder were seen in Little Peconic Bay when looking for seahorses near Chris’ father’s oyster cages.

When attempting to visit our planting site on the south side of Great Gull Island in mid-April, over 30 seals surrounded our boat. One even breached right next to the boat; we took that as a warning to stay out of the water. We have been told that these seals, including harbor and gray, can get aggressive this time of year because it’s mating season. It was the same scenario on the south side of Plum Island on the same day and then again at both sites one week later. Once again, we couldn’t get in at Gull Island as the seals were way too numerous and getting a little too close for comfort, but Chris decided to get in at Plum Island because the seals kept their distance here. They just hung out in deeper water until we left so they could go back to their favorite rocks and “haul out”.

By mid-May, we started to see our usual fluke and flounder at our restoration and donor sites as well as juvenile cunner and blackfish. Other noteworthy sightings were a school of squid hovering over an eelgrass bed in Gardener’s Bay in late-May and a massive school of young cod hanging out in our restored eelgrass South of Great Gull on June 15 (the seals finally left). Also, Barry took a few funny shots of an oyster toadfish trying to fit into a scallop shell in Hallock Bay which I find hysterical. We have yet to see seahorses in the wild this year, but will keep you updated. I can’t wait to see what summer brings!

For more photos, please visit us on Facebook!

Kimberly Petersen Manzo

Thursday, April 22, 2010

New York's "Fragile Waterways" Premieres

The PBS Channel 13 documentary entitled "Fragile Waterways" premiered today. At 45minutes the segment begins featuring my father (the oyster farmer) and I. Part of this includes a brief discussion about our eelgrass restoration efforts in Long Island Sound. Not much on detail but there is only so much you can get into on one of these shows.

In one scene through the cabin windshield you can see Steve and in another you can briefly see Kim in the cabin next to me. They also show up in the water in their dive gear, but with all that gear everyone looks the same!

You can view the show online here.



Spring Monitoring Continues...

Yesterday, three of us were able to get in the water and check out the status of our eelgrass restoration sites around Plum Island and Great Gull Islands.

First stop was Great Gull Island (north side) where we had planted as part of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) grant for eelgrass work in eastern Long Island Sound. I am happy to report that the plants looked great, small, but great (photos above). It is always a little shocking to see the plants for the first time in the spring when they still have the diminutive winter growth habit. The last time we observed these plants was in the fall when they were still quite long and waving in the current. Also, during this time of year there is so much macroalgae that it tends to hide the shoots. The prognosis is VERY good for this site and we plan to begin additional plantings soon.

Second stop was the south side of Great Gull where we wanted to check on a restoration site first planted 4 years ago. This site is amazing and the patches have really spread over the last couple years. Despite the great vis and perfect conditions, we were not able to get in the water here. Once on station, we were greeted by approximately 30 seals. Most were pups, but there were enough agitated adults around to keep us on the boat. We are all too familiar with their breaching and nostril snorting to know that we were not welcome here. We’ll have to wait a little longer to dive here, but I am sure that this site is thriving given it’s performance in the past.

The third stop was Plum Island South (Fort Terry) to look for remains of a test planting we had conducted last fall to see if this site could support grass. Unfortunately, after much searching (storms had removed our buoys) we only found a couple shoots. The wave energy and sand movement are apparently too much for our small patches of plants as those that remained were buried under several inches of sand. This very frustrating given that water quality and light are more than adequate at this site. I am optimistic that we can do some additional work here this summer to measure light levels to see how deep grass might survive here. I’m not holding my breath, but I would like to think that this site could work for us.

On a more positive note, our last dive was on the Plum Island North (Radiator Beach) which was another planting associated with the NFWF project. The crew had visited this site a couple weeks ago so I already knew it was doing well, but I wanted to see it for myself. Plants looked great here in 18-22’ of water (above). The area where we planted a large number of patches 1m OC looked great and we are on schedule to begin spring plantings soon to greatly enlarge this area. One interesting observation was the fact that the deepest plots (20-22’) were showing signs of erosion from high currents (below). This area is too deep to be affected by waves, but it appears that this far off shore the plants are outside of the shadow of the nearby point and rock piles that otherwise slow the currents. I don’t believe the currents are limiting; this is just something we need to take into consideration when planning out the planting.

Next field day is planned for Friday…


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

It’s been a long winter!

It’s been a very long winter and we are all ready to begin field work. We have spent the winter renovating offices, constructing a new seagrass lab and re-organizing and cleaning out the greenhouse. Now it’s time to get back in the water.

Last Friday marks the first dive of the season for the crew as Kim and Barry went out to check on one of our test planting sites at 67 Steps in Southold, Long Island Sound. The day was unseasonably warm; a perfect day for the first dive of the season. Fortunately, the plants looked great there. Some early season camera issues didn’t allow for pictures of all of the patches, but Kim reported that everything she saw looked really good.

I hope these observations are a sign of things to come as we launch our spring monitoring visits to all of our sites. After a winter like the one we just had, I have concerns over whether or not everything survived; only time will tell whether we had any losses.

For the next week we have to limit our observations to shore dives until the boats are back in the water in early April. Once our boats are back in, we can check on our sites out at Plum and Great Gull Island as well as scout out new spring test planting sites.

Finally, we also need to get into Shinnecock Bay and check on the status of a large-scale seeding effort and experiment that we began last summer. The results of this project could be very exciting…

Check back for more observations in the coming weeks.