NYTimes - November 11, 2019
"Bay scallops from the Peconic Estuary have been feeding the inhabitants of Long Island for centuries, but in fewer than 50 years, according to one expert on bay scallop biology, human activity driving climate change has threatened scallops with extinction."
You could tell it was going to be a bad scallop season just by looking in the parking lot of the Shelter Island Yacht Club.
When the scallops are abundant, gulls pluck them from shallows, drop them on the macadam from a height, and swoop down to eat the meat from the cracked shell. This October, for the first time in years, the yacht club parking lot was not carpet-bombed with scallop shells.
Sure enough, when bay scallop season opened on Monday, the baymen of Long Island brought news. Most of the adult scallops in Peconic Bay were dead.
Pete Wencel, a bayman who didn’t go out on opening day, struggled with what the die-off will mean for him. “Honestly I don’t know what the hell I’m going to do this winter,” he said. “It’s not good.”
Bay scallops from the Peconic Estuary have been feeding the inhabitants of Long Island for centuries, but in fewer than 50 years, according to one expert on bay scallop biology, human activity driving climate change has threatened scallops with extinction.
... Mr. Tettelbach believes the cause of the collapse from Flanders Bay to Orient Harbor is high water temperatures and the accompanying low oxygen levels. In the late 1980s, the bay sustained three successive years of brown tide, a harmful algal bloom that had a devastating effect on the bay scallop population.
This catastrophe, however, he attributes primarily to human-induced climate change.
“We have seen population reductions in the past,” Mr. Tettlebach said. “This is worse than that. Given that there are juveniles there is hope,” he added. “Can the population sustain themselves on their own? Prior to this year, I would have said maybe. Not now.” ...
Read full report at NYTimes