By Dave Sigworth, publicist of The Maritime Aquarium
Today in Connecticut is Long Island Sound Day.
Back in 1997, the state General Assembly declared that each Friday before Memorial Day is to be celebrated as Long Island Sound Day. By proclamation, we citizens are encouraged to acknowledge and celebrate the economic, recreational and environmental values of the Sound (which incidentally also was declared by the U.S. Congress as “an Estuary of National Significance”).
Indeed, Long Island Sound is an incredible natural and economic resource to Connecticut. According to a report by the state’s Long Island Sound Assembly, the annual economic value of Long Island Sound was estimated in 2007 to be in excess of $8.25 billion.
“The Sound is a precious resource, which will either increase in value as a result of good stewardship, careful planning and wise investment; or decrease if we do not engage in these efforts,” the report says.
Among the groups engaging in these efforts is the Long Island Sound Study. Their website (www.longislandsoundstudy.net) has a concise summary of the Sound’s issues: “The loss of wetlands, forests, farm areas and other open spaces to increased population, development and urban sprawl has increased pollution and stormwater runoff, altered land surfaces, decreased natural areas and restricted access to the Sound.”
You don’t have to have a home on the Sound to affect the health of the Sound. Because the Sound’s watershed, or drainage area, is huge, extending all the way to Canada, odds are that your actions – at home, at work, at play – do impact the Sound. There’s an old saying: “No single drop of water believes it is responsible for the flood.”
So pause today to consider Long Island Sound and what you can do for its sake. Here are some ideas:
• Well, of course: come to The Maritime Aquarium, where we feature more than 1,000 animals native to the Sound and its watershed, including seals, sharks, sea turtles, rays and river otters. Appreciating what lives in the Sound will inspire you to care for their aquatic environment.
• Scoop that poop! It is estimated that two or three days’ worth of dog doo from about 100 dogs can contribute enough bacteria to temporarily close a bay and all watershed areas within 20 miles to swimming and shellfishing.
• Use less fertilizer. If you use too much, it just runs off your lawn and into the watershed, leading to excessive algae blooms, which cause low-oxygen dead zones in the Sound.
• Take your dirty cars to commercial car washes, which are reducing their environmental footprints through water reclamation and treatment processes. If you wash your car in your driveway, the soapy water can flow down storm drains and eventually drain into the Sound.
• Don’t litter. That piece of plastic can be carried into a waterway during a rainstorm and put a strain on aquatic life. If you see litter, even if it isn’t yours, please pick it up!
• Don’t flush your out-of-date prescriptions down the toilet. Find a location that will dispose of your medications properly.
• Make smart seafood choices at restaurants or the market. Use the Seafood Watch pocket guide available here: http://tinyurl.com/5mno26
• Maintain your boats and cars to avoid oil leaks.
• Use reusable containers for your beverages. Paper or Styrofoam coffee cups, and plastic water bottles, often end up as marine debris.