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Trustee: Crabs on Shoreline Is a Common Occurrence

Eric Shultz says he visited the sites and believes that people mistook shed crab shells for dead crabs.

Southampton Trustee Eric Shultz says he does not believe that the hundreds of crabs that were reported washed up on the shores of Tiana and Shinnecock Bays on Tuesday were all dead. 

On Thursday afternoon, Shultz said he visited the sites of reported dead crabs and said that from what he witnessed, the crabs simply backed out of their shells, which they do several times in their lifecycle. 

"It's a common occurrence this time of the year and moon cycle," he said. "It's a time when people harvest them for soft shell crab sandwiches." 

When the crabs shed, Shultz said their shells wash up on the shore line and with such a vast number — more than what has been reported in 20 years — washing up, that indicates that there are a large number of crabs in the bays.

With that, however, Shultz said there were some dead crabs in the mix, especially at the end of Corwin Lane. But, he said that could be normal too.

"If they were all dead, that beach would smell, but it doesn't," he said. 

Some of the dead crabs could have died from natural causes or were grabbed by a seagull, he said.

"I'd say 75 percent of the crabs I saw were just shells," he said.

Shultz says the jury is still out and he is investigating further by looking into finding out if pesticides were sprayed in the area recently by vector control.

"The spraying is toxic to crabs," Shultz said.

A kill by pesticides is a theory that Kevin McAllister pointed out. McAllister said that the crabs could have also died from an algae or red tide. 

Boating Friend August 09, 2012 at 09:20 PM
You mean all that nonsense from the Peconic Bay Keeper about red tide, pesticides and algae along with septic run off so we ''must act now'' wasn't at all the actual case? Are we out of wood insofar as a lecturing letter to the editor in the Press about how awful we all are? Never let a crisis go to waste huh. When are we going to get the professional experts in charge of the coast that this region deserves?
n.mcgrath August 09, 2012 at 10:37 PM
it does smell there and i am dissapointed at the "spin" again put on again on our polluted waters. These crabs were not empty. They were and are full.
Eric Shultz August 10, 2012 at 12:37 AM
E. Shultz I was not trying to spin a serious issue that faces our waterbodies. Every year we receive many calls regarding dead crabs which in realty are their discarded shells after they molt. The molt occurs several times through the year as they grow. There is also a dieoff as adults reach the end of their lifespan which is a maximum of 3 years so if no crabs were harvested about 33 per cent would die in a given year if all make it to maturity. A certain number also die of other causes such as predators and natural causes. Now for the area of Corwin lane in hampton bays, there are more dead crabs in this area than other areas that I checked out today. This could have been caused by red tide or pesticide spraying by the county. Crabs are extremely sensitive to insecticides and these crabs may have come from a marsh that was sprayed. The Trustees are working with the DEC to find out how these whole crabs died. The bay is under siege from a number of forms of pollution but even in a healthy ecosystem there are cycles of life and death and we should be careful to not jump to an easy conclusion before the facts are in.
Aaron S August 10, 2012 at 02:01 AM
Just spoke with a friend of mine who lives in the Islip area. There is a huge amount of washed up "dead" craps in the Great South Bay also.
Boating Friend August 10, 2012 at 09:39 AM
Politicians only go online to refute claims when the claims were accurate.
Algebra August 10, 2012 at 12:01 PM
Boating Friend, If I said what I wanted, it would be deleted. Mr. Scuhultze took the time to ID himself and give a reasonable explanation. You, however, wanted him to pull some magical answer from his nether regions to placate the masses. Do YOU have a reasonable explanation as to what happened or why Mr Schultze is wrong inhis asertations? If not, crawl back into your hole.
Boating Friend August 10, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Rough seas push airbubbles into their shells which prevent them from diving. Happens all the time along the Pacific rim and more southern climes of the Atlantic. Will happen here more now because of unusually warm water. There is no issue, no story, mother nature is complicated and wonderful.
Juss Bean Honest August 15, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Why do people who live here always find out about a spraying after the fact? My kids go clamming along Meadow Lane so it's disturbing to learn it was sprayed July 31st, a day they were down there. It'd be great if Patch or some other venue was able to let people know. The other obvious question is whether or not there is any need to spray. I'd rather have some bug bites than see people get sick and the ecosystem messed with.

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