Observation Friday: Save the Sound Sailing Journey Part 3

This week’s post for Observation Friday picks up on our sailing adventure in the far western reaches of Long Island Sound. Our own Curt Johnson shares with us a wonderful day on the water with two friends and colleagues.

After saying goodbye to Chris Cryder, a great companion who trained home Tuesday night, I said hello to Nancy Seligson, NY CAC co-chair and partner in all things Long Island Sound. Nancy put me up in her lovely home on the shores of her lagoon off Larchmont Harbor as the sailboat happily bobbed at the Seligson mooring at the Larchmont Yacht Club.  Her guest bedroom marks the western most point of this sail-around-the-Sound adventure.

Nancy Seligson dockside in Larchmont Harbor.

As Mark Tedesco, director of EPA’s Long Island Sound Office, and I canoed out of the lagoon this afternoon, I am struck by the beautiful stone walls and lovely homes, all on filled marsh – this is indeed the American Mediterranean.  All along the coast are lovely estates with hard walls and attractive landscaping; hardly ‘all natural,’ yet beautiful and altered.  Some with manicured and fertilized full lawns right down to the water’s edge. Regardless, Oyster Bay is truly spectacular. 

An American Mediterranean in the western Sound.

So is there life in this American Mediterranean? I’m happy to report that Chris and I saw 21 schools, or pods, of menhaden (also known as bunker) between Greenwich and Larchmont. Today, Mark and I saw another 20 pods between Larchmont into Oyster Bay. It’s great to see tens of thousands of shimmering, swirling fish right on the surface!  They are a keystone species in our Long Island Sound food web.  The dark areas in the photo below show how several thousand swirling bunker literally darken the waters.

Small pods of Atlantic menhaden

Right after fishing out two pair of deflated Mylar balloons threatening marine life, Mark and I received news that we were sailing over the largest extent of hypoxia (a.k.a. low oxygen dead zone; see map below) in nearly a decade. This condition is still expanding in the lower areas of the western Sound. Yikes! We have to redouble our efforts to cut nitrogen pollution from sewage treatment plants.

Mark showing off his marine debris catch.
Map courtesy of CT Dept. of Energy & Environment

The sailing today was phenomenal!  Wonderful beam breeze sent us charging up the Sound and into Oyster Bay. Nancy is a gracious host and Mark is an able sailor – thanks for being part of our adventure!

Posted by Kierran Broatch, outreach associate for CFE/Save the Sound

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