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Hurricane Sandy delivered a tough blow to many educational programs

October 2012, Great South Bay, NY

Hurricane Sandy delivered a tough blow to many educational programs, but the storm had a particularly devastating effect on our Mariculture Program. Sandy completely destroyed the Town of Islip Shellfish Hatchery; our partner and research site for our tenth grade mariculture program. With the assistance of Western Suffolk BOCES we found alternative research sites, and were able to start the program this month.

Our program focuses on the production of Hard Shell Clams; New York State's most important shellfish. The harvesting and marketing of this hard shell clams has developed into a multi-mil-lion dollar a year industry. Unfortunately, this irreplaceable natural and economic resource has been threatened by a combination of environmental and man-made conditions. At stake is the loss of an important food source, a recreational pastime, employment opportunities, and a vital component of the estuarine ecosystem. To help preserve the Hard Shell Clam, fishery managers have initiated mariculture restoration projects.

In our program students actually grow Hard Shell Clams under controlled conditions while being exposed to a new and exciting field. Through field trip excursions and classroom lectures, students develop an understanding of: marine ecology, anatomy and physiology of Hard Shell Clams, scientific procedures used in mariculture re¬search, data collection and evaluation, and the socio-political issues involved in the shellfish industry. In addition, they’ll make a significant contribution to Long Island by helping restock its coastal waters with hundreds of thousands of clams.

Program’s objectives is to increase the students' ap¬preciation and understanding of the importance of mariculture and to help restock Long Island coastal waters with Hard Shell Clams. Specifically, the program will enable our students to:

  • Be involved in an important environmental and economic community issue and gain first-hand experience working to help solve a marine environmental problem.

  • Understand the factors contributing to the decline of the Hard Shell Clam fishery onLong Island and assess management alternatives being explored to rebuild it.

  • Recognize the importance of coastal waters and shellfish to Long Island's economy and the need for careful management of these resources.

  • Develop a sense of stewardship for Long Island's marine resources

  • Gain a greater understanding of the biology of Hard Shell Clams and coastal marine ecology.

  • Complete a successful Hard Shell Clam mariculture project, while helping to restock coastal waters.

  • Develop skills in woodworking and construction.

  • Acquire the skills needed to conduct scientific investigations: site analysis, identification of marine organisms, scientific sampling procedures, data collection, synthesis, and analysis, and stocking procedures.

  • Work with and learn from adults outside the normal educational structure, including baymen, government officials, businessmen, and scientists. Career development aspects include exposure to a new field of enterprise and career options related to marine science in government and academic settings.

  • Analyze and interpret data and compile a final research paper

We invite you to visit our program this August when the students’ clam “seedlings” will be “planted” in the Great South Bay.

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