Tag Archive | "Dr. Chris Gobler"

SoMAS “State of the Bays” Report to be Delivered This Friday in Southampton

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Gober, Christopher

Dr. Chris Gobler of Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Studies will present “State of the Bays, 2014: Nitrogen Loading, Estuarine Flushing and the Fate of Long Island’s Coastal Waters” in the Duke Lecture Hall of Chancellors Hall on the Stony Brook-Southampton campus this Friday, April 4, at 7:30 p.m.

The talk will introduce a new organization, The Long Island Coastal Conservation and Research Alliance, whose mission will be to engage in coastal research and monitoring that can be used to protect and restore Long Island coastal ecosystems. The seminar will also highlight recent observations and research important for the conservation of these ecosystems.

Over the course of the last year, awareness has grown about the negative effects of excessive nitrogen loading on Long Island’s coastal waters. This attention was partly driven by the continuous outbreaks of red tides, brown tides, rust tides, blue green algal blooms, Ulva blooms, and dead zones in Long Island’s estuaries during May through October of 2013, notes Dr. Gobler in his talk, an excerpt of which was issued via a press release this week. At the same time, research findings have emerged connecting excessive nitrogen loading and the intensity and toxicity of marine and freshwater algal blooms. New evidence has also emerged, according to the release, that estuaries in the region that have successfully reduced nitrogen loading are now experiencing a resurgence in water quality and fish habitats. The talk will also focus on the benefits of enhanced flushing, which can protect bays against the threats brought about by excessive nitrogen.

The event is free and open to the public.

Red Tide Rears Its Head Again, Early

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web Red Tide_1

Red tide, an algae bloom toxic to shellfish and fin fish, is already rampant in the waters off the South Fork of Long Island, having reappeared for the sixth year in a row and over a month earlier than years past, according to Stony Brook Southampton professor Dr. Chris Gobler and Peconic Baykeeper Kevin McAllister.

Already visible in the Shinnecock and Peconic bays, including Noyac Bay off Sag Harbor, according to Dr. Gobler the red tide first appeared around July 20, whereas previously the algae has bloomed in late August and early September.

“The organism has been present for some time, but we do not know why it has become so prominent in recent years,” said Dr. Gobler. “We believe the warmer-than-usual summer has been responsible for its early arrival.”

A harmful algal bloom, red tide is visible, usually presenting itself in rust-colored bands on surface water. While harmless to humans, Dr. Gobler noted the species is highly toxic to fish, shellfish, larvae, zooplankton and other algae.

“These properties prevent it from being consumed by predators and prevent it from needing to compete with other algae for resources such as nutrients,” explained Dr. Gobler. “Higher nitrogen levels lead to more intense blooms. We also know the blooms seem to be isolated to the Peconics and Northeastern Shinnecock Bay.”

The tide will remain until the water cools, reducing the number of available nutrients.

According to Dr. Gobler, quantifying the impacts of red tide is difficult, although he noted the smallest organisms, larvae, are the most vulnerable albeit the most difficult to track.

“Large fish in pound nets and at Stony Brook’s marine station have died during blooms,” said Dr. Gobler. “Fishermen have reported a decline in landings during and following the blooms. The Southampton Town Trustees reported a large scallop die-off in Noyac Bay following last year’s bloom. None of these things are good news for the ecosystem.”

McAllister agreed that areas where aquaculture is occurring are the most vulnerable, particularly if their growth is in cages, but that pound nets are equally vulnerable as when fish trapped in the nest can be exposed to the toxic algae for prolonged periods of time.

“I think the wild stock is also vulnerable if there is a persistent bloom,” he added.

Dr. Gobler, whose lab at Stony Brook Southampton is focused on water quality research and plankton ecology, said the occurrence of red tide is a sign of poor water quality, however while his lab has learned much about the species they are still studying why the blooms start and why they reoccur on such a consistent basis, as opposed to brown tide, which is more sporadic.

McAllister said he has seen literature referencing the occurrence of red tides dating back centuries, but that he believes an increase in nutrients like nitrogen in the water likely is due to human influence, specifically the result of aging wastewater treatment systems leeching into the groundwater and concurrently into streams and bays, as well as the use of some fertilizers in landscaping and lawn maintenance.

“It’s been around for a long time, but with that being said, we are seeing these harmful algae blooms more frequently and certainly along developed coastal communities,” said McAllister. “I don’t have the smoking gun, but I do believe there is a correlation between development and the strain on coastal marine life.”