'Nearly unprecedented' brown tide sets records in 2017

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There were some records broken in 2017 that were unfortunate for marine wildlife and lovers of Long Island's waterways. 

The highest cell densities ever recorded of brown tide were found in the Great South Bay this summer, according to Dr. Christopher Gobler, of Stony Brook University. 

Dr. Gobler says the brown tide – caused by nitrogen pollution from antiquated cesspools and fertilizer runoff – extended from Nassau to Southhampton. It lasted from May until August. 

He called the brown tide "nearly unprecedented, with regards to duration and extent." 

Also, five different sites were closed due to paralytic shellfish poisoning risks, which was also a record. 

"These are things we want to, need to, reverse and improve," says Dr. Gobler.

The Long Island Clean Water Partnership released a water quality assessment map Tuesday showing toxic algae outbreaks across Long Island are getting progressively worse.

Both Nassau and Suffolk counties, as well as the state, have implemented programs to combat nitrogen pollution, but environmentalists say time is running out. 

"If we do nothing in the next 10 years, we can lose our shellfish industry, beaches will be closed, home values will decrease," says Adrienne Esposito, of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment. 

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