The team working the hatchery in Islip, NY is growing more than just baby oysters and clams. Following the devastating blow dealt by hurricane Sandy, the former Town of Islip Shellfish Hatchery looked to be dead in the water. Damaged infrastructure, millions of shellfish needing to be replanted, the task of bringing it back online was too much for the municipality to bear.
In stepped a hardy group of marine biologists, oyster growers, baymen, and more. Sheer determination has brought this important facility back online and ready for business. We were thrilled to pay them a visit and to see just how far they have come.
The directions we were given went something like “When you see two big ‘DO NOT ENTER’ signs, enter.” That, by the way, sort of sums up the whole thing. Where most may have turned back, these folks went forward.
As you drive down the narrow drive, surrounded by wetlands, and arrive at the low bulkhead holding back the Great South Bay, you can’t help but be amazed that there was anything left after Sandy. It seems almost underwater on a good day!
Inside was buzzing, and not just the usual buzzing, burping, burbling of tanks and tubes and algae, but alive with work. Rebuilding is continuing on one side of the facility while the business of rearing clam and oyster seed is in full swing inside.
We took a look at some of the oyster broodstock awaiting spawning as well as some spat from a recent spawn.
A giant algae tank affectionately called Big Ed stands glowing at the end of the rows. Standing proud like some crazy alien monolith.
We used up just enough of everyone’s time to get to know the people who are working hard to bring this much needed resource to life. We look forward to bringing the first of our Great South Bay Hatchery seed out to the farm in the next few weeks.