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Shinnecock Bay on Long Island receives global recognition

Christopher Paparo
Fish Guy Photos via Stony Brook University
Shinnecock Bay on Long Island’s south shore has been named a global Hope Spot after successful restoration efforts over the past decade and its healthy and diverse natural conditions and wildlife.

Shinnecock Bay on Long Island has been named a Hope Spot by Mission Blue, an international organization that recognizes ocean regions with vital ecosystems and supports their protection.

Ellen Pikitch, a professor of marine conservation science at Stony Brook University, co-led scientific work on the Shinnecock Bay Restoration Program. She said in the past decade, the group has seen major changes.

“Here we have something that really does provide hope for others because it shows that you can turn around — not everything, but you can turn around the harm that people have done to the environment,” Pikitch said.

Christopher Paparo
Fish Guy Photos
Bottlenose dolphins swimming from the Shinnecock Inlet into the bay.

The creation of hard clam sanctuaries in the western Shinnecock Bay has resulted in improved water quality and an increase in fish population that has not been seen since the mid-1980s. Pikitch said the designation will serve as a beacon of hope for other projects and help the group to maintain the bay’s restoration.

“We hope to inspire others to not only replicate what we’ve done, but even more broadly, for other kinds of areas to understand that it is possible to bring about positive change," Pikitch said. "It’s not too late.”

The Hope Spot will join the ranks of others like the Galapagos Islands, the Sargasso Seas and the Ross Sea in Antarctica.

Jeniece Roman is WSHU's Report for America corps member who writes about Indigenous communities in Southern New England and Long Island, New York.