This year’s almost complete die-off of previously thriving juvenile Peconic Bay scallops is becoming the norm [“Bay Scallop Disaster Continues, Another Year Of Massive Die-Offs Appears Likely, Researchers Say,” 27east.com, August 17]. Could drought be a contributing cause?
Bay scallops consume algae, but the low concentrations of our bay’s nitrogen are known to limit the growth of the algae upon which the scallops feed. A primary source of nitrogen in Peconic Bay is from groundwater — and that flow is controlled by rain events. A drought causes less nitrogen to enter our bays, which already have very low nitrogen concentrations.
Over the last four years, our East End community has lost at least $100 million in economic activity due to failed scallop harvests. After a die-off, scientists point to potential causes that might have stressed the scallops. A lack of adequate food could certainly bring stress, but this possibility has been curtly dismissed.
We need to systematically study the Peconic Bay scallop during its growth cycle to determine if its nutritional requirements are being met, or if the scallops are starving. This may open discussions of nitrogen management rather than the current policy that only considers nitrogen reduction.
Roger C. Tollefsen
One fine body…