Shellfish experts warn of scallop die-off in the Peconic Bay for third year in a row
Shellfish experts are warning that there is a scallop die-off in the Peconic Bay for the third straight year.
The experts say the adult scallops have died or are dying in mass amounts after spawning earlier this year. They say the cause is a combination of parasites, the presence of predatory cow-nosed rays that eat scallops, warmer waters and low dissolved oxygen levels during the summer spawning season.
Southhold bayman Peter Wenzel, who's been harvesting scallops in the Peconic Bay for 46 years, says a bleak November harvest bounty means he'll lose up to $50,000 in earnings this season.
"You don't ever make that up," says Wenzel. "You can try harder during the other months of the year, but you don't make up lost days and lost dollars."
The Peconic Bay scallop die-off doesn't just impact baymen. It also has a negative impact on local fish markets and other parts of the local economy.
"It is devastating to everybody," says Charlie Manwaring, of Southold Fish Market. "Just the trickling down goes a long way because our scallops go from here to New York City to Massachusetts to Florida. They go everywhere."
Shellfish ecologists are working on restoring the Peconic Bay scallop population.
Stephen Tettlebach, of Cornell Cooperative Extension says, "We've undertaken work to try to do some selective breeding to develop strains of scallops that are more resistant to high water temperature and also to the parasite."