Shinnecock Bay will get Hope Spot designation for work completed to revive it

Final Friday, atop a bluff over Shinnecock Bay, Danielle Hopson Begun cq, processed the season’s first kelp harvest as a part of a program to assist return the important waterway to its pristine previous after centuries of exploitation and improvement.

Hopson Begun, a member of the Shinnecock Kelp Farmers and the Shinnecock Indian Nation, mentioned the harvest — 10 strains of ribbonlike kelp round 100-feet lengthy — had solely minor issues, requiring extra upkeep than anticipated after among the kelp was overcome by slip-gut, a “goopy brown algae.”

The dried and processed kelp shall be used as a soil modification for gardens, together with by the Sisters of St. Joseph, which have donated house for the six Shinnecock girls to make use of for the challenge. Income have been elusive, however irrespective of, mentioned Hopson Begun, as a result of “cleaning up the bay is really the only reason we’re doing this,” she mentioned.

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Work by conservationists and academia to revive the wildly various Shinnecock Bay helped the waterway obtain the latest honor of being named one of many world’s Hope Spots by a world ocean conservation group often called Mission Blue.

The group, in asserting the designation, mentioned it was a recognition of Shinnecock Bay’s “substantial ecological, scenic, touristic, economic, spiritual and cultural significance.”

It was additionally a recognition of Stony Brook College’s Shinnecock Bay Restoration Program, which “creates and populates clam sanctuaries, constructs oyster reefs and reseeds sea grass beds” to assist restore the bay, with open ocean entry via Shinnecock Inlet, to one thing extra approximating its pre-colonial standing, when the Shinnecock tribe was its main steward.

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Mission Blue’s founder, Sylvia Earle, cited Shinnecock Bay’s proximity to a significant metropolitan space and work by Stony Brook’s Faculty of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, which nominated the waterway for the designation.

“While New York conjures up visions of skyscrapers and crowded streets, it is a great ocean state with a significant coastline, a rich maritime heritage and growing opportunities to view ocean wildlife from the shores and in the water,” Earle mentioned in a press release.

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“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,” mentioned Ellen Pikitch, the endowed professor of ocean conservation science at Stony Brook snd director of the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science.

Shinnecock Bay consists of 9,000 acres of open water, salt marshes, intertidal flats and sea grass beds, and the Shinnecock Bay Restoration Program has labored to revive it by stocking it with greater than 3.5 million onerous clams and constructing oyster reefs. Institution of so-called spawner sanctuaries on the bay over the previous decade has elevated hard-clam harvests by greater than 1,000%, Stony Brook mentioned.

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