Thursday, July 26, 2012

Gasping for air?

This Summer has been freakishly warm. Especially the water. I went straight from wearing a drysuit to wearing a 3/2 or a rash guard in early June. As a result, we have not been enjoying our normal thermals each afternoon. Instead we have been enduring  90 degree air, and 71 degree water temperatures.
While Friday's rain kept me out of the's cool Easterly made for a wonderful sail with Lauralee on Saturday.
On Sunday the breeze was light but had switched to WSW. I left my mooring at high tide, so every thing seemed right with the world. As I was sailing I saw more Bunker schools than I had ever seen in one area. Giant bait balls with fish jumping everywhere.  I thought something is forcing these  fish to the surface, ( must be Blues). There were so many visible dorsal fins , the schools looked like cat paws on the water. What I didn't get, was why the fishermen where ignoring these giant bait balls.
It wasn't till I sailed back to the bay that I understood. The bay was back to smelling like a sewer. I'm no scientist; but I've seen this before...reports of whales beaching in the Sound: dead Bunker lining the shoreline...Hypoxia. These fish were desperately gasping for air.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

I’m afraid of the water

No I’m not afraid of sharks; like the well publicized Great White sightings in Chatham.

In fact, I was in the water in Chatham [where my parents happen to live] just a few weeks ago. I mean “come on” we have plenty of sharks in sharks in Long Island’s waters. I was actually bumped by a Tiger Shark while fishing a few years back. I was wading in Fire Island Inlet up to my waist, trying to cast into a bait ball. The shark was slow and graceful. I initially thought it was the shadow of one of those slow flying airplanes that pull the banner ads at the beach. But when that shadow bumped, or investigated me, it felt like someone dragged 50 grit sandpaper across my thigh.

 We see sharks more often in the Fall through Spring months. Probably because the water visibility is better. But I have no doubt there are out there. It’s there territory; their home; we are the visitors. To be honest with you, I am more afraid of a school of Bluefish. Now those guys will do some damage; first you have that tell-tail smell, then you see the Blitz, as they swim, mouths open, and bite anything. When they blow through a lineup chasing bait fish, you do not want to be in the water.

So what am I afraid of? The rain. More specifically downpours. And that seems to be the norm this year.
So why is that bad? Storm Run off.
The past decade’s Mc-Mansion craze, all the new black-top, and
bulkhead-ing of our island is a bad thing. Every time is rains, all the nitrogen rich fertilizer from our artificially green lawns, along with anything else out there, goes straight into the water.

The loss of the natural marshland to land fill means we have nothing to filter all that crap. Oh yea and I mean CRAP literally. Our sewage treatment facilities were built when the population of Long Island was about a third of what it is today. And that is even if you have a sewage treatment plant. Many communities still rely on “theoretical’ septic systems and leaching fields.

Water at Long Island beaches is experiencing increased bacteria counts. In 2011 and the state as a whole dropped five spots in a nationwide ranking of beach-water cleanliness. Stormwater runoff and sewage spills have dropped New York’s  ranking to 24 out of 30 states in the "Testing the Waters" report issued by the environmental advocacy group Natural Resources Defense Council.

I was able to leave work early on Friday, but I was afraid to go in the water. Even the Ocean smelled like poop. This is really becoming a health risk. Many Bunker, Blues, and Striped Bass I have caught this year are showing signs of parasites.
The scariest in my opinion is mycobacteriosis. It is so bad the DEC recommends you only handle these fish wearing rubber gloves!

For more information; or to report signs of a diseased fish visit...

At least Massachusetts has issued a warning. Most States are not. “I assume” they are afraid of losing the revenue fishermen bring.

So I didn’t go windsurfing Friday in the pouring rain. I did give a Kite-surfer who was separated from his kite a ride. But shampooed the passenger seat after realizing he soaked it to the cushion. And on Saturday I feel good about my choice.
Nassau County officials announced 14 North Shore beaches are closed to bathers Saturday after heavy rainfall. Suffolk County officials issued
A beach advisory, warning residents to avoid bathing at 60 Suffolk County beaches.

We just don’t get it.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012