© 2024 WSHU
NPR News & Classical Music
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Marine biologists on Long Island are worried about the water

brook stream swamp wetland

Long Island residents may notice more algae in the waters of Long Island Sound this summer, according to a presentation by one of Long Island’s marine biologists.

Dr. Chris Gobler gave his annual State of the Bays presentation on Wednesday night at Stony Brook University. Gobler is one of the scientists tasked with tracking the environmental conditions inLong Island Sound.

Gobler said two new species of harmful algae were identified in the Sound in 2021, bringing the total number of known specimens to eight.

“In good news, neither of them are a threat to human health, but in bad news, both of them are a threat to marine resources,” Gobler said.

He said the effects that Long Island residents see on the ocean will depend on the weather, and could not be predicted yet.

“It depends on what kind of summer we’re going to have,” Gobler said. “Heat waves and hotter summers tend to bring more problems with water quality. Intense tropical rain events also tend to bring more problems with water quality. We’re partly at the whim of how summer plays out. ”

The marine biologist also said his team has identified cost effective technology to increase water quality and reduce nitrogen loads for homes in the area. Excess nitrogen can cause increased algae growth, which can create toxins that are harmful to humans and marine life.

“We’ve developed a series of on-site septic systems called nitrogen- removing bio-filters that essentially are composed of sand and wood chips,” Gobler said. “They are near passive in their design, but effectively remove up to 90% of the nitrogen and similar amounts of organic contaminants.”

Gobler said Suffolk county was working to mitigate the problems with water quality by upgrading over 200,000 septic systems.

“I can say for sure, in Suffolk County, that the action plan is already there and actually enacted,” Gobler said.

Molly is a reporter covering Connecticut. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.