The Department of Environmental Conservation says it has ruled out pesticides as the cause of death for hundreds of blue crabs that .
According to Lori Severino, a press officer for the DEC, there were no pesticide applications during the time the kill was reported.
Severino said, however, the DEC is still testing plankton samples that were collected to better determine the cause of the kill that was reported on Aug. 7.
During the investigation, Severino said the DEC recorded about 100 juvenile horseshoe crab molts (discarded shells due to growth) and 96 dead blue crabs of varying size and sex along the high tide line at the end of Corwin Lane in Hampton Bays. Officials tested the water to find that the temperature, salinity, and dissolved oxygen along the sea wall were all within normal ranges, he said.
The same was true at the end of Little Neck Road and at the end of Cemetery Road within the , where crabs were also reported washed up.
"The temperature and salinity were both in the normal range," at both locations, Severino said.
At Little Neck Road, the DEC said it found some 79 juvenile horseshoe crab molts and 12 dead blue crabs. And at the end of Cemetery Road, there were more than 900 juvenile horseshoe crab molts and 100 dead blue crabs of varying size and sex.
Southampton Trustee Eric Shultz conducted his own investigation and reported that much of what he witnessed were molts, which is a normal occurrence. However, he said, he did see a number of dead crabs.
Shultz said he has since learned that there was a pesticide application on Meadow Lane on July 31, just a few days prior to the kill.
"From the DEC's numbers, it seems that there were more dead crabs as opposed to molts in that area," he said.
Shultz said he is still investigating the types of chemicals that were used, but said commercial fishermen on the bay have reported that after a spraying, they notice die offs of crabs.
As to the dead crabs at Tiana, Shultz believes they were from the same kill at the Shinnecock Reservation.
"The crabs possibility came in on the tide from the same incident and ended up in Tiana," he said.
The Kevin McAllister, the Peconic Baykeeper, who said he did not personally investigate the kill, believes that the DEC is "ruling out pesticides merely to cover themselves."
"The DEC, of course, is going to deny pesticides," he said. "Pesticide approval falls within their laps for regulation."
McAllister said he cannot say for sure what killed the crabs, but said pesticides could absolutely be a cause.
"Hell yeah, pesticides kill crabs," he said.
McAllister also offered that , an algae, which has made a reappearance in local waters, could also be blamed.
Calls to Suffolk County Vector Control, which oversees mosquito spraying, were not immediately returned.