The Department of Environmental Conservation is trying to find out why hundreds of blue crabs and horseshoe crabs have washed up dead on the shores of Tiana and Shinnecock Bays — and so far, there are no answers.
DEC spokeswoman Lori Severino said that on Tuesday the department has fielded many reports of the crabs washing up near the shores of the Shinnecock Indian Reservation at the end of Corwin Lane in Hampton Bays.
"It's an ongoing investigation," she said.
Eric Shultz, the president of the Southampton Town Trustees, said he also received reports of dead crabs and conducted his own investigation. He believes the crabs simply shed their shells. To read his report, click here.
However, Kevin McAllister believes that the kill could be caused by one of two things — the red tide or algae that has recently returned to Southampton waters, or pesticides related to mosquito spraying.
"It's hard to say what the cause is without testing. Often times it is pesticides, but it could also be the red tide," he said, adding that whatever the cause, "It is not good news for the bays."
Just this this week, McAllister said, the red tide, which has reappeared in area bays for several years, is responsible for a fish kill in a creek off Flanders Bay.
Red and brown tides, McAllister said, have become a chronic problem.
"We can’t delay anymore," he said. "We can’t sit here and debate this and ignore it for another five or 10 years. The time to act is now."
McAllister has long-advocated for pollution reduction strategies, including a call on Suffolk County to take action when it comes to . He also has fought for the DEC to set numeric quality standards for the bays.
In addition, McAllister said he thinks people should take a closer look at mosquito spraying by the county, to determine if it's both safe for the environment and entirely necessary.
Nancy McGrath of Hampton Bays, who spotted the crabs at the end of Corwin Lane on Thursday evening, said she was saddened by the site.
"In my 50-plus years of being on the water here in Southampton Town, I have never seen this kind of die-off before. I'm sure there are other areas of Shinnecock beaches where this is happening, unfortunately. It's a very sad day for our bays."