Cool Creatures of Long Island Sound

Long Island Sound is home to all sorts of fascinating organisms. In this blog we will talk about some of these very cool creatures. We at City Island Oyster Reef usually encounter many interesting organisms in our Oyster Reef Station (ORS) cages. We’ve seen several different species of fish and all different kinds of invertebrates during our Saturday ORS monitoring.

Blue claw crabs are named for the bright blue coloring on their claws and other parts of the body.

In the picture above, we have a blue claw crab that was found in one of our ORS cages. Blue claw crabs have two modified back legs for swimming and large claws that can give you a real pinch.

A spider crab––this guy was hanging on to the side of a CIOR ORS cage!

Another cool creature that we find hanging both inside and outside our ORS cages are spider crabs. They look prehistoric!

This is a small blackfish. Mature blackfish weigh more than 10 pounds, and some specimens can reach over 20.

This is a blackfish, also known as tautog. We find lots of small blackfish like this one in our ORS cages. Blackfish love eating crabs, especially Asian crabs and green crabs, as well as blue mussels and bristle worms.

A bristle worm found in our ORS cage

There are many different species of bristle worms in the Long Island Sound. This is an example of one such worm we found in an ORS cage. We usually find a lot of them; they serve as a food source for many different species of fish. Bristle worms have sharp fangs in their jaws made of copper, and they eat animal carcasses, algae, fish larvae, and other bristle worms.

Spat Collectors

City Island Oyster Reef (CIOR) works actively to restore oyster reefs and to improve the environment around City Island while also engaging the community. Over the past four years our efforts have developed many new ways to further our goal. This year one of our goals was to deploy 18 spat collectors around City Island in order to attract baby oysters.

Spat collectors are disks made of cement, oyster shells, and rubber tubes. The cement and the shells act as surfaces to which oyster spat, or larvae, can attach themselves and grow to maturity. The tube through the middle of the collector enables a rope to suspend it in the water from a dock or a boat mooring. Our spat collectors were lowered a couple of feet below the surface to make sure that no local predators would harm the developing oysters at low tide.

Attaching a spat collector to a rope

The City Island community was very much involved in the process of creating and deploying the spat collectors. First, the construction of the collectors was completed at the local public school, P.S. 175, which enabled young Islanders to assist and learn more about the effort. Then, for help with deployment, a message was sent out to a volunteer group, and two volunteers came out to help. We placed the spat collectors near the dock where the City Island Yacht Club junior sailing program takes place during the summer, thus promoting greater awareness and community involvement.

by Connor Normoyle, CIOR Intern