July 9, 2016

United Nations Ambassadors visit Stony Brook Southampton NY Marine Station

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On Saturday July 9th, 2016, a group of United Nations ambassadors, dignitaries, and their families visited Stony Brook University's Southampton NY Marine Station for a tour of the facility and an overview of the Shinnecock Bay Restoration Program (ShiRP). Ten countries, including Antigua & Barbuda, The Bahamas, Fiji, Israel, Italy, Kiribati, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Poland, and Vanuatu were represented.

 Guests were given a tour of Stony Brook’s state-of-the art research laboratory with a detailed explanation of its current experiments, shellfish spawning, and how the scientific work done in the lab directly informs bay restoration. The diplomats also heard an overview ShiRP’s restoration goals and activities from research scientists who have led ShiRP’s trawl survey and other fishery-related activities since the program’s inception.

A highlight of the study tour was a visit to the hard clam spawner sanctuaries in Shinnecock Bay -- areas where large amounts of adult hard clams have been placed in close proximity to one another to maximize population growth and reproduction. Spawner sanctuaries, a type of marine protected area (or MPA), are a conservation tool that can improve the water quality and shellfish populations of Shinnecock Bay. During the boat trawl, the success of the sanctuaries became apparent when samples taken just outside the protected area revealed small hard clams – offspring of the adult clams that had been placed in the hard clam sanctuaries. Diplomats also participated in deploying sampling gear, which revealed some of the fish and invertebrates resident in Shinnecock Bay, and learned how various species and habitats contribute to the bay’s ecological health and vibrancy. A summer flounder was tagged with an acoustic transmitter that allows ShiRP researchers to monitor migration patterns of this flagship fish species.

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President-Elect of the United Nations General Assembly, H.E. Ambassador Peter Thomson of Fiji, reminded all that “We are One Ocean,” noting that the sediment in Shinnecock Bay looks, smells and feels just the same as the bay bottom he encountered as a child in Fiji. He praised the work of Stony Brook University's restoration program, citing it as a model for protecting marine areas, as is needed to safeguard our oceans and coastal areas for generations to come.