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Shinnecock Bay

Restoration Program

A Restoration Success Story

The Shinnecock Bay Restoration Program (ShiRP) is a major effort within Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences. The program was created by SoMAS professors in 2012 in response to deteriorating water quality, shellfish population declines, and degraded habitat conditions in western Shinnecock Bay. 


Our scientists had long documented occurrences of harmful algal blooms such as brown, red, and rust tides in Shinnecock Bay, as well as conditions like eutrophication and hypoxia. Our laboratory and field experiments showed that such poor water quality conditions would continue to kill fish, shellfish, and eelgrass, continuing a downward spiral for the bay. 

When we started the ShiRP program in 2012, our goal was to use the power of science and our top tier expertise within Stony Brook University to restore the water quality, shellfish, habitat, and fisheries within Shinnecock Bay through a multi-faceted and evidence-based approach that would essentially ‘Turn Brown Tide Blue’.

After a decade, ShiRP has succeeded in improving water quality, repopulating hard clams, re-introducing native oysters, expanding eelgrass beds, and enhancing marine life in Shinnecock Bay. 


Restoration success doesn’t happen immediately and it isn’t always straightforward. A decade later, we are still working to maintain our gains and understand how this ecosystem responds to changing conditions. Our hope is that the approaches we used and the lessons we learned in Shinnecock Bay can be adopted or shared with other scientists, practitioners, and communities, to improve estuaries across Long Island and beyond. 

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Where we work and what we do

The map on the left shows where we are conducting various restoration activities. Monitoring for water quality, shellfish reproduction, and fish diversity occurs throughout the entire bay.

Restoration Activities

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Our Story

Water quality impairment is unfortunately all too common in coastal environments. Excess nitrogen, harmful algae blooms, and lack of natural filtration from shellfish are the result of unchecked human activity over years and decades. This was the situation in Shinnecock Bay in the early 2000’s.

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Our Expertise

The Shinnecock Bay Restoration Program is a major effort within Stony Brook University's School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences.

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