The Shinnecock Bay Restoration Program was created in 2012 in response to deteriorating conditions Shinnecock Bay. Stony Brook University's School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS) and its Institute for Ocean Conservation Science (IOCS) founded the program to restore the bay to its former health. Our goal is to use science, community involvement, and partnerships in this process.

Our scientists have documented declining water quality and occurrences of “harmful algal blooms” such as brown and rust tides in Shinnecock Bay. At the same time, there are less and less shellfish to filter the bay. Similar to efforts by The Nature Conservancy in Great South Bay, we are trying to jump-start shellfish reproduction by installing hard clam "spawner sanctuaries", which provide clams in high enough densities where they can begin to reproduce effectively on their own. In addition, we are expanding upon existing eelgrass beds to enhance this essential fish habitat in areas where it has been lost. We are also experimenting with oyster and seaweed restoration techniques. Altogether, we hope our efforts will begin to improve water quality and bring back a thriving ecosystem to Shinnecock Bay.

Community involvement is a cornerstone of our program. We believe that support and involvement from citizens and civic groups is fundamental to our success. Many individuals are keenly aware of environmental problems, and are eager to learn more and make a difference. Two main goals of the ShiRP program are to 1) disseminate information, including what we’re finding through our scientific monitoring and experiments; and 2) involve people in restoration firsthand, through eelgrass restoration and community oyster gardening.

drone photo

A drone photo of one of our pilot oyster reefs, by Christopher Paparo

Boy Scout Troop
Boy Scout Troop 58, and other members of the public, helping us bag some eelgrass at our Annual Eelgrass Restoration Workshop