Thousands of dead mussels washed ashore near United Riverhead Oil Terminal on Long Island Sound near Jamesport, New York, on 24 August 2016. It is likely that high water temperatures due to the prolonged hot temperatures in Summer 2016 is the cause. Photo: Grant Parpan

By Grant Parpan
24 August 2016

(Riverhead News Review) – David Gruner has been visiting the same private beach on the Long Island Sound in Jamesport for more than 50 years. On Wednesday afternoon, he witnessed something he’d never seen before.

When Mr. Gruner walked down to the beach he found the shoreline covered in mussels “as far as the eye can see.”

“They’re all about the same size, all clean shells,” he said. “It’s not like anything I’d ever seen growing on the Long Island Sound.”

In an email Wednesday evening, Bren Smith of Thimble Island Ocean Farm in Connecticut, the only mussel farmer on the Long Island Sound, said all his mussels are accounted for. He surmised the likely cause of such an occurrence would be “either extreme heat or a clam dredger ripped up a wild bed.”

“I suspect its the hot flash of water temps,” he said. 

Mr. Smith pointed to a 2008 Staten Island Advance article announcing a similar “bizarre shellfish occurrence.” In that article, sources interviewed also blamed either a dredge boat or high temperatures.

Mr. Gruner, a Jamesport resident, estimated there are “hundreds of thousands” of mussels lining the shore between Iron Pier Beach in Jamesport and United Riverhead Terminal in Northville, about a 1.7-mile stretch of beach. He said the mussels were not there when he left the beach Tuesday afternoon, and guessed they’d come in with the high tide later that night. [more]

Mussels ‘as far as the eye can see’ on L.I. Sound beach in Jamesport


Thousands of dead mussels washed ashore near United Riverhead Oil Terminal on Long Island Sound near Jamesport, New York, on 24 August 2016. It is likely that high water temperatures due to the prolonged hot temperatures in Summer 2016 is the cause. Photo: Grant Parpan

By Paul Squire
26 August 2016

(Riverhead News Review) – What caused thousands of blue mussels to appear along the shoreline in the Jamesport area this week hasn’t officially been determined. However, a local biologist believes the culprit may be rising water temperatures in the Long Island Sound.

“They’ve been hit with these consecutive heat waves that are just too hot for them,” said Christopher Gobler, the associate dean and researcher with the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook.

State Department of Environmental Conservation officials concurred.

“It is likely that high water temperatures due to the prolonged hot temperatures we have experienced this summer is the cause,” DEC spokesperson Aphrodite Montalvo said.

The mussel die-off appeared Wednesday morning just east of Iron Pier beach and west of the oil terminal. Jamesport homeowner David Gruner said he and his wife noticed a rotting smell that morning and walked along the private beach to find thousands of mussels.

Mr. Gruner, a Jamesport native, said he’s never seen anything like the recent mussel die-off. […]

Mr. Gobler also said he believes long-term climate trends show warmer ocean temperatures may be here to stay since satellite readings of ocean temperatures by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration dating back to 1982 show rising ocean temperatures.

“Eastern Long Island Sound and the Peconic stand out as a region that’s already experienced more rapid warming than a lot of the rest of the region,” he said. “It’s already an area that’s warming quickly.” [more]

Biologist: High temperatures may have caused mussel die-off

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