Ecosystems Are Dying as Long Island Contends With a Nitrogen Bomb

Thousands of dead bunker fish and hundreds of diamondback turtles washed ashore last May in Peconic Bay on the east end of Long Island, New York. Fed by warming waters and a stream of nitrogen, a foul bloom of algae had so depleted the estuary of oxygen that marine life suffocated. The waters of the bay swirled red and brown. Basic septic units are not designed to remove nitrogen. When too many households with septic are clustered too densely, nitrogen levels spike. Converted into ammonium in the tank and then nitrate in the soil, nitrogen seeps into groundwater and ends up in rivers, lakes, and bays, where it feeds a menagerie of algae species. Read the rest here 21:32

2 Responses to Ecosystems Are Dying as Long Island Contends With a Nitrogen Bomb

  1. illusion1256 says:

    I am very involved in federal fisheries policy and politics and one of the things I talk about is Peconic Bay. This nitrogen issue is blown way out of proportion and is used for 2 things a money grab and to mask the real issues.
    Throughout the 1900s Peconic Bay was ringed by duck farms and the duck waste went into the bay, mother nature had no problem dealing with duck poop (nitrogen). The Bay was plentiful with fish and shellfish and supported many baymen and fishermen. Between 1980 and 1990 we started to see a change, the dynamics of the bay changed. Non natural substances started winning out over natural substances. Treated sewer water with chlorine or chloramine started affecting the bay, pesticides started affecting the fish and shellfish eggs and larvae, fertilizers for are beautiful lawns changed the makeup of the water. Fish and shellfish populations dwindled.
    Regulations affecting fishing were enacted, fishermen were blamed for the demise of fish stocks and yet the bay didn’t improve, fishermen are gone, people don’t even remember the fishing boats in Greenport from the 40,50,60,70,80,90s the porgies/scup that came out of Peconic Bay was incredible and although this stock has been at all time highs for the last 10 years the fish don’t go up there.
    Fishermen did a good thing by stirring up the bottom so the dead stuff would get up in the water and flush out, but then we banned the draggers and I remember the last ones up there telling me how dead the bottom smelled. I remember all the marinas that filled in the marsh lands saying how great it would be getting rid of the fishermen not realizing they were covering up the nurseries, Paul Stoutenberg in the 60s and 70s saying don’t fill the marshes you are destroying the wetlands that protect the water and the wildlife, he was so far ahead of the rest of us, I hope he would agree with me.
    We as people have always blamed someone else we are not going to change, the nitrogen might be a small part but the main culprits are lack of marshes and wetlands for filtration, too many man made chemicals to treat sewage, road runoff, cleaners and pesticides. Mother Nature can handle and thrive on natural products it can’t handle non natural chemicals.
    The bunker kills have been going on for centuries they are natural what has changed is man doesn’t like the smell so there must be something wrong, it is simple too many fish in a small area causing lack of oxygen and then dead fish. Mark Phillips

  2. Rocky Novello says:


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