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SoMAS Faculty and Students Among Oyster Gardener Volunteers for SBU’s Shinnecock Bay Restoration Program

SOUTHAMPTON, NY – July 9, 2013 –Stony Brook University Professor Ellen Pikitch, a renowned expert in marine biology and conservation; Christopher Scott and Elyssa Hopkins, currently students in the Marine Conservation and Policy program in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook, were among the volunteer oyster gardeners gathered at the Tiana Beach Community Oyster Garden, where each received 1000 baby oysters (spat), which they will nurture to maturity. A number of the oyster gardener volunteers were recruited by the Shinnecock Bay Restoration Program (ShiRP), which was founded by the Stony Brook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS) and its Institute for Ocean Conservation Science.

“Restoring Shinnecock Bay requires dedication and a hands-on approach by scientists and residents in our communities,” said Dr. Pikitch, Executive Director of IOCS, ShiRP co-principal investigator (with SoMAS Prof. Christopher Gobler) and a Town of Southampton resident.

“Raising these oysters is an extremely important initiative to improve the bay’s health, and I look forward to working alongside other members of the community on this project. I think it will be a great learning experience and fun.”

At the end of the season the oyster gardener volunteers will produce their fully matured oysters to be planted by SBU students in special oyster beds, where they will filter water in Shinnecock Bay, improving water quality and helping to fight both brown and red tides. One adult oyster can filter and clean up to 50 gallons of water per day.

The ShiRP volunteer oyster gardeners will work under the program, Southold Project in Aquaculture Training (SPAT), which is sponsored by the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, the Southampton Town Trustees and Town of Southampton Parks and Recreation Department.


About the Shinnecock Bay Restoration Program

The goal of the Shinnecock Bay Restoration Program (ShiRP) is to use science, outreach and partnerships to restore the water quality and fisheries of Shinnecock Bay. The bay is the eastern-most lagoon along New York’s South Shore Estuary system. Its aquatic environment – 9,000 acres of open water, salt marshes and intertidal flats – forms a regionally significant habitat for fish shellfish, and waterfowl. In August 2012, ShiRP received a generous philanthropic gift from the Laurie Landeau Foundation* matched by a gift from the Simons Foundation for a total impact of $3 million. These targeted funds are being used by Stony Brook’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS) over five years to restock shellfish, expand existing eelgrass beds, harvest seaweeds to absorb nutrients and inhibit harmful algal blooms, monitor restoration efforts and share the project’s goals and results with stakeholders and the public.

* The Laurie Landeau Foundation is an arm of a larger 501(C)3 which was established from the estates of Ralph and Claire Landau, and is primarily dedicated to philanthropy for scientific institutions and science museums.

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