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Dredging Moriches Bay

1329 Views 14 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  Scratcher
Moriches Bay gets more shallow every year. I think the fishing might get a boost if sections of the Bay were dredged. The depth around bouy 29, for example, is way down, and the area around the East Cut, by the islands, could benefit from some dredging too.
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Only a dream... It could never happen

It sounds like a great idea but it is only a dream. There is a multi-million dollar shellfishing and crabbing industry in Great South Bay that greatly depends upon the bay's brackish waters for its survival. Any additional sea water would increase the salinity to the point where hardshell clams could not survive. Without their primary food source, the blue claw crab population would diminish.

It could never happen.
What Bill descibes is common everywhere in the Patchogue/Sayville area. I will keep my fingers crossed that dredging the inlet in Moriches will have a positive effect but I'm not too optimistic.

The description that Bill gives about it looking like coffee is so true. It's not so much the lack of fresh ocean water as it is TOO MUCH runoff from the creeks & canals.

The runoff contains nitrates/nitrites from lawn fertilizer and other chemicals in the sewers. Since algae is a plant, it grows out of control from all the "plant food" we're letting wash into the water. That's the coffee that we see. Then, when the algae dies too quickly, it uses up too much oxygen in the water as it decomposes. That's the cause of brown tide (which is the next phase that we hope never hits the area).

In addition to the algae, I highly suspect that something else is going on in the area. Nothing for nothing, but have any of you noticed the aweful smell in the area during low-tide on a hot muggy night???

What is that smell??

Locals tell me it's the usual "lowtide" smell that is in every waterfront community. I'm not buying that for a minute.

Seriously, anyone else notice the smell??
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Take another look at those blue claws on the beach and you'll notice that they are not dead crabs, but actually just empy shells. Crabs are like snakes; their outer skeleton cannot grow. They grow a new shell underneath and when they are ready, they shed their old shell just like a snake sheds its old skin. This is called "molting".
For the few days following the molt, the crabs are "soft shell".

This is prime growth time for blue claws to molt and it's not uncommon to see hundreds of their shells float up on the beach. Every so often, a good crab molt even fools marine biologists into thinking that there was a major crab die-off. Here is a good article that tells how even scientists are sometimes fooled by a crab molt into thinking that crabs were dying...

The last few years there have been some great blue claw crab population blooms in your area. Each time there is a major molt, people flip out and think that the pesticide spraying is killing the crab population. The truth is, a good molt is a sign of growth, not death.

Keep in mind, clams are their primary food source. Clams love BRACKISH water with low salinity and lots of floating food particles in the water (what you and I would consider "dirty water"). When the clam population increases, so does the blue claw crabs.

The second major food supply of the blue claws is the young, old sick & weak. Crabs are "opportunist" feeders. They'll play the roll of the scavenger, the hunter, the stalker... whatever works at any given moment. If the water quality is poor or the oxygen levels drop and fish begin to weaken and/or die, the blue claws will benefit.


Is the sewer treatment plant still pumping waste into the Patchogue river? If not, when did it stop? Either way, that might explain the smell in the Patchogue area. But what about Sayville?
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