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!

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Kimberly Petersen Manzo

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