Tag Archive | "concerned citizens of montauk"

CCOM Reports Water Tests

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Now in its second year, the Concerned Citizens of Montauk in partnership with the Surfrider Foundation’s nationwide Blue Water Task Force water quality testing program has been sampling Montauk and Amagansett water bodies for the bacteria enterococcus.

Each week trained volunteers collect and test samples from Ditch Plain, Lake Montauk and Fort Pond in Montauk and Fresh Pond in Amagansett and post the results on Surfrider’s Blue Water Task Force portal.

In the most recent test results, collected during the week ending August 22, bacteria levels ranged from low to high at the 15 sites tested, with the highest levels reported at the Fort Pond launching ramp and East Creek in Lake Montauk. Medium levels of the bacteria were found on the Industrial Road side of Fort Pond and Little Reed Pond Creek near Lake Montauk, with all other tested sites showing little or no bacteria.

Fish Eye View Highlights Long Island’s Life Underwater

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A photo of a seahorse by Chris Paparo.

A photo of a seahorse by Chris Paparo.

By Stephen J. Kotz

From the surface, the teeming ecosystem of an East End bay reveals itself in glimpses: a bluefish breaking the surface; a school of silversides darting through the shallows; or a spider crab moving slowly along the edge of the eelgrass.

But for Chris Paparo, who has been taking underwater photographs for more than 25 years and is better known as the Fish Guy, the view is decidedly more detailed.

This Saturday, Mr. Paparo will present a free slide show and lecture, featuring his underwater photography, “An Underwater Journey of Long Island Through the Eyes of a Fishing Biologist,” at the office of the Concerned Citizens of Montauk from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

CCOM executive director Jeremy Samuelson said he first learned about Mr. Paparo from his Facebook page, Fish Guy Photos, and was eventually intrigued enough to invite him to speak as part of CCOM’s environmental education outreach efforts.

“We all suffer a bit from this National Geographic thing in that we think the only beautiful things worth saving are halfway round the world,” said Mr. Samuelson, “but his photographs show you find them right here in our backyard.”

By day, Mr. Paparo, who received a degree in marine biology from Southampton College, manages the marine sciences center at the Stony Brook Southampton campus. “It’s exciting to have gone to school here as an undergrad and be back here for the next phase of the college’s life,” he said. Besides overseeing the facility’s operations, Mr. Paparo leads tours and field trips for visitors to the marine science center from local schools, museums and other community groups.

Before joining the university’s staff, he worked for four years at the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation and another 13 years at the Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center in Riverhead as its educational coordinator and one of its rescue techs.

“The reason I went into marine science is my dad took me fishing when I was six, and I’ve been hooked ever since,” he said.

Besides giving lectures on his underwater photography, Mr. Paparo finds time to write a naturalist column for On the Water magazine and contribute to Fisherman magazine.

Mr. Paparo, who said he was certified as a scuba diver in 1993, first took up underwater photography as hobby. In recent years, “it’s snowballed a bit” with the advent of first the internet and later Facebook. Today, he said, every chance he gets he grabs his scuba gear and his Canon underwater camera rig, to explore beneath the surface of local bays.

Those who attend his lecture will see photographs of fluke, striped bass, porgies, puffers, winter flounder, sea bass and many other fish species. “Now you are going to see it from their point of view,” he said.

“I start with all the important game catch and then show the by catch, the crabs, snails, clams and end with the exotics, the tropical fish that come up in the summer time,” he continued.

Over the years, Mr. Paparo has photographed everything from tiny seahorses, which frequent the bays—“you have to know where to look for them,” he said—to sharks out in the ocean, although the latter he photographs from the safety of a boat.

“I haven’t seen any sharks diving, but I haven’t ventured out in the ocean to do any ocean diving,” he said. But he goes out with a friend and they tag and release sharks. “One of the makos we tagged off Shinnecock in 2012 was found 2,200 miles across the Atlantic,” he said. “It’s neat when you get a recapture like that.”

But Mr. Paparo said he has seen his share of sharks close to shore. “They are very abundant around here,” he said. “I’ve seen makos in the inlet. It’s just a matter of being out there and if you are out there the amount of time I am your chances of seeing them go up.”

Last year, Mr. Paparo said he was thrilled to see a string ray he estimated at 3-feet in diameter swimming around Ponquogue Bridge in Hamptons Bays. Although he was unable to photograph the fish, he caught it on video.

“I still get excited when I find an octopus,” said Mr. Paparo, who added that he has never seen one while diving, because they are very elusive creatures. “We collected two last fall, little guys,” he said. One was in a net, another came up with the anchor. “The first one was about the size of a gum ball, and the other one was even smaller, about the size of my pinky nail. If you didn’t know what you were looking for you would have missed them.”

Mr. Paparo said many amateur photographers fail to recognize how much work goes into capturing images of wildlife. “If you only go once, you won’t necessarily get the chance,” he said. “You never know what you are going to come across. And just because you saw it doesn’t mean you are going to get the picture.”

Mr. Paparo’s talk takes place at CCOM’s office at 6 S. Elmwood Avenue in Montauk. Admission is free and reservations are not required. For more information, call CCOM at (631) 238-5720.


Earthly Love

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On April 22, 1970, the world experienced its first Earth Day. Initially an event with nearly 20 million participants in the U.S., Earth Day has grown to include an estimated 1 billion participants from countries all around the world.

“People of all nationalities and backgrounds will voice their appreciation for the planet and demand its protection,” a message on the official Earth Day website proclaims. “Together we will stand united for a sustainable future and call upon individuals, organizations and governments to do their part.”

When you think about it, a lot has changed since the 1970s — and for the better. Cars and appliances run far more efficiently than they did a few decades ago, using far less fossil fuel and electricity. Meanwhile, the notoriously polluted byways and waterways of the New York metro area (who among us from that unenlightened era can soon forget the stench of the Meadowlands from the New Jersey Turnpike on a hot summer’s day?) have been largely reclaimed, cleaned up and are once again full of wildlife that can thrive there without fear of death and disease from toxic waste.

Beyond the urban landscape, there’s much to celebrate on the East End on this Earth Day as well. For one, let’s be thankful for the preservation efforts that, since the 1970s, have maintained the rural areas we still have in the face of rampant development pressures (anyone remember the proposed Montauk Highway bypass that would have cut through Sag Harbor’s southern reaches?)

But alas, there’s always garbage to be found on the streets and beaches of our fair towns and villages. So here on the East End, there are Earth Day celebrations aplenty and many of them come with an opportunity to do a little community service along the way. From the Great East End Clean-Up — for which Southampton Town residents will comb through over 70 locations with pokers and trash bags in hand — to local beach cleanups and environmentally friendly activities put on by organizations like the South Fork Natural History Museum and Nature Center (SoFo) and Concerned Citizens of Montauk (CCOM), there is plenty to choose from.

Earth Day has long been popular and we expect a good number of people on the East End to show up this weekend and do their part for the environment — even if it’s simply taking that extra few moments to bend down and pick up a piece of litter on our morning walks. Every little bit helps.

The public’s awareness of environmental issues on April 22 is admirable and important. However, there are 364 other days in the year that are not given Earth Day distinction. What happens then?

This Earth Day weekend, take a mental snapshot of the efforts you see around you to protect the environment, and work to make those practices a more regular part of your daily routine. We’re not saying you have to drive to Sagg Main every morning with a poker and a trash bag and comb the beach looking for scattered debris. (We know, we have day jobs, too.)

Rather, take time during the rest of the year to pick up trash when you encounter it, for example. Do your part to eliminate plastic from the waste stream and buy reusable cloth shopping bags to keep in the trunk for when you’re out and about. And don’t leave your car idling when you “just run in to grab something.” Yes, we know it’ll only take a second, but those brief moments still create unwanted emissions.

The point is, Earth Day will inevitably end; but the need to keep our environment clean and healthy will not.

This weekend, don’t pick up trash and debris just because it’s Earth Day; clean up the environment around you because it’s the right thing to do. Because this is where we all live and we don’t want to see it ruined.