The Nature Conservancy, a national non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and revitalization of natural habitats, is particularly active in The Great South Bay. Their main initiative, The Shellfish Restoration Program, is meant to bring these filter feeders back to the bay in abundance, so that they can once more filter the bay water for the benefit of all the other plants and animals that live in the bay. Today, only 1% of the bay is filtered by clams when in 1976 40% per day was. in 1976 there were no limits placed on the number of clams that could be harvested, nor on the number of permits the Towns of Babylon, Islip and Brookhaven could issue. When overclamming caused the clam population to collapse, the bay’s ecosystem suffered greatly because the water wasn’t being cleaned as it once was.
The strategy is simple: bring back the clams, and harvest them sustainably. Thus far over the past three years, 7,000,000 cherry stone clams have been seeded into the Great South Bay by The Nature Conservancy. They have in turn spawned. More are to be seeded each year, and with each year the tide is turning. Long Islanders can help by:
1. Volunteering to help seed the clams into the bay. You will need to be able bodied — a bag of clams is about 50 lbs. A seeding generally runs from 10 AM – 2PM, with clams loaded onto The Nature Conservancy boat from the truck at 10, and seeded into the bay for an hour or so. The contact info and the release forms can be found here.
2. Donate towards the purpose of buying The Nature Conservancy more clams for the effort. A $20 donation buys 120 cherrystones.
3. Buy a Save The Great South Bay T-shirt, featuring The West Sayville Marina for $25 (American made, 4 color silk screen), and have $5 go toward the purchase of 30 cherrystones.
Beyond The Shellfish Restoration Program, The Nature Conservancy helps The Great South Bay by monitoring its waters, lobbying for sound policy, and leveraging its experience with bays and estuaries throughout the country.
Please use this form below if you want to take part in their shellfish restoration program: