SAYVILLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — It has become an annual sight off Long Island and it’s not getting any better.
Scientists say the waters are seeing one of the most intense brown tide algae blooms in years, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Tuesday.
It’s back, and it’s bad.
Brown tide is muddying the waters of the Great South Bay. You can’t help but notice the unappealing cast on the otherwise beautiful view.
“The water appears to be very dirty,” one local resident said.
“It just looks like mud and it’s really killing the bunker fish. It’s taking the oxygen out of the water,” another said.
“It takes away from fishing. Everything that used to be in the bay is gone,” added Stanley Arthur of West Sayville.
Stony Brook University marine biologists say the Great South Bay is suffering from the most intense and widespread brown tide in four years. Counts of the algae that causes the brown color are nearly 10 times what’s considered harmful to marine line.
“Thirty five thousand cells-per-milliliter is the level that can begin to cause harm to, for example, clams, and we are at half a million cells-per-milliliter,” said Dr. Christopher Gobler of Stony Brook Coastal Ecology and Conservation.
That could spell the demise of this year’s young clam population. Bayman and marine scientist George Remmer said it’s not just the clams that have slipped away.
“I could catch half a bushel of flounder in there as a little boy off the bulkhead,'” Remmer said, adding when asked about the conditions now, “You couldn’t catch a flounder in this canal if your life depended on it.
“We are getting worse and worse blooms. We break records every few years,” he added.
Neil Sluiter, who tries to fish in the brown tide, blames lawn fertilizers that pour nitrogen into the bay.
“Everybody wants a green lawn and God forbid we should have a dandelion, because they don’t look good, so we have to kill them, too. At least that’s what people think,” Sluiter said.
“And we also know there are a lot of unsewered homes there, so on-site septic systems, nitrogen leaching into the bay, and that’s the combination that leads to these brown tides,” Gobler added.
While the blooms happen every year, the fact this year has been so intensified, it should be motivation, scientists said, to act even quicker.
Both Nassau and Suffolk counties offer grants to help people pay for upgrades to their cesspools so that they pollute less.