Professor: Lethal rust tide an ‘annual event’ due to climate change, pollution
The rust tide that kills fish and shellfish in Long Island’s waters is becoming an annual event due to warming temperatures and antiquated cesspool systems, according to experts.
Dr. Chris Gobler, a professor at Stony Brook University, has spent two decades studying harmful algae blooms that have decimated populations of scallops, oysters, clams and fish in bays and estuaries.
He says climate change and nitrogen pollution are responsible.
"Decades ago, we never had rust tide because it never got warm enough for it and now the waters are so warm, it’s become an annual event," he told News 12.
There were thousands of oysters being grown in the Shinnecock Bay to replenish and restore the population, but more than half of them have not survived the rust tide.
Captain Brian Gagliardi, who spends most days on the bay, calls the environmental change “disheartening.”
"Every time you see it when you are on the boat – the water changes from blue to red and it is just an upsetting sight to see," he said.
Earlier this summer there was a brown tide in the Great South Bay, which is also lethal to fish and can make shellfish poisonous.