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Shinnecock Bay Recovery Celebrated With ‘Hope Spot’ Distinction

The Southhampton Press

Thursday June 26, 2022

NewsBreak, reposted article by 27 East, 6/8/22 

An international environmental group has spotlighted Shinnecock Bay in Hampton Bays as one of its “Hope Spots” for showing promise of recovering from water quality degradation and serving as a fountain of biodiversity, largely thanks to an effort by scientists from Stony Brook University. 

Mission Blue, a California-based group that advocates for protection of the world’s oceans and marine species, called Shinnecock Bay a “hidden gem of biodiversity” and an important breeding ground and nursery for a wide number of marine species. 

For the last 10 years, the 9,000-acre bay has been the focus of the

Shinnecock Bay Restoration Program, a privately funded effort led by Stony Brook University to combat harmful algae blooms and boost native shellfish populations. Led by SBU marine biologists Dr. Ellen Pikitch, Dr. Christopher 

Gobler and Dr. Bradley Peterson, the project has used the seeding of massive numbers of clams in the western portion of the bay to reduce algae densities and boost shellfish populations, which scrub water of pollutants. 

The effort has largely eliminated what had been annual blooms of the notorious “brown tide” algae and a toxic “red tide” that posed a potential human health threat. 

“The Hope Spot distinction for this unique bay on Long Island is the result of meticulous work and proof that the Shinnecock Bay Restoration Program has succeeded in bringing the bay back to the healthier state it was in many decades ago,” said Pikitch, an endowed professor of ocean conservation science at Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, and director of the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science. 

She added, “Shinnecock Bay is arguably the healthiest bay in New York State, and our work demonstrates that people can reverse the damage done through nature based, scientifically guided restoration. We hope and expect that designation of Shinnecock Bay as a Hope Spot will inspire others to take action to restore other places to their original beauty, biodiversity, and health.” 

Mission Blue works to create marine protected areas around the world and has spotlighted areas with its Hope Spot distinction as places where marine life thrives and which serve a critical role in the health of the world’s oceans. 

Mission Blue has identified 143 Hope Spots to date, covering more than 57 million square kilometers of ocean. 

“This places Shinnecock Bay in a league with internationally recognized locations such as the Galapagos Islands, the Sargasso Sea, and the Ross

Sea in Antarctica,” a release from Stony Brook University said. “The bay is the first Hope Spot in New York State, the only one near a major metropolitan region, and one of only three others on the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S.”

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