Our goal is to improve water quality, increase habitat, and create conditions that support healthy marine life.

To achieve this, we have four focal areas of active restoration:

Creating hard clam sanctuaries:
We are restocking overfished shellfish by installing hard clam "spawner sanctuaries" where clam populations have declined. We have planted over 3 million adult hard clams into harvest-free areas in parts of western Shinnecock Bay since 2012. These clams are not only providing a key filtration function, but because they have been placed in dense concentrations, they can create new generations of hard clams that will repopulate the broader bay over time. We appreciate the support of the Southampton Town Trustees on creating these no-clamming zones which will bring benefits to the entire bay.

Oyster Reefs:
Since 2018, we have built four pilot-scale oyster reefs, which, like hard clams, provide a key filtration function in areas of poor water quality. These reefs begin as spat-on-shell and are growing into healthy ecosystems that support many other estuarine species. With each new reef, we refine our techniques to construct the reef and to populate it with the optimal amount of spat. We have seen robust growth and survivalship of the reefs so far!

We have been re-seeding eelgrass in order to expand this important habitat in the bay. Rather than trying to create new eelgrass beds in "new" areas, we are expanding areas of existing eelgrass because we think there is a higher chance that the seeds will take root and ultimately survive longer term. Eelgrass is a critical ecological habitat in estuaries – it generates oxygen, absorbes nutrients, binds sediment, and is a buffer against storms. Our approaches have focused on BuDS units and hand broadcasting seeds, and to date, we have increased eelgrass in Western Shinnecock by an estimated 10 acres.

We are exploring how seaweed harvest might mitigate excess nitrogen. Through in-situ experiments in the bay, we are evaluating which species of seaweeds soak up highest quantities of nitrogen, in certain locations and in certain months. Further, we are conducting experiments to understand how well these seaweeds can be converted into organic soil fertilizers for more sustainable land use.

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