"Estuaries such as Long Island Sound are among the most valuable ecosystems in the world. The Sound supports diverse marine life, including most of the fish and shellfish we value as food ..."

– Connecticut Sea Grant

Conservation & Research

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Long Island Sound Fun Fact

Long Island Sound is 113 miles long, 21 miles wide (at its widest) and holds about 18 trillion gallons of water. Its average depth is 63 feet – which is just a little deeper than the height of our IMAX screen! Can you fathom that?!

Aquar.moon jelly copy

Common Name: Moon jelly

Latin Name: Aurelia aurita

Size/weight: Up to 16 inches in diameter

Range:  Arctic to Florida or Mexican; in the Pacific from Alaska to southern California

Habitat: Floats near surface in offshore waters.

Diet: Small plankton, fish eggs, occasionally other developing jellies.

Predators: Sea turtles, sunfish.

Description: Translucent; recognizable for the four horseshoe-shaped organs in their center and a single row of short, hair-like tentacles around the bell.  Since they’re not really fish, it is more proper now to call them “jellies,” instead of jellyfish.  Moon jellies are only mildly toxic to most people; the sting is likely to cause nothing more than a persistent, itchy rash. But some folks may have more severe reactions.

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Common Name: Eastern oyster (sometimes called American or Virginia oyster)  

Latin Name:  Crassostrea virginica

Description:  A prolific bivalve mollusk with thick irregular grayish-white shells with concentric ridges. The left (or bottom) shell is cupped with a purple muscle scar inside. The right (or top) shell is smaller and flatter.

Size/weight:  Shells generally are 3 to 5 inches long

Range:  Eastern North America, from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the Gulf of Mexico 

Habitat:  Estuarine or salty water, in intertidal and subtidal zones. They can grow in great beds or reefs, with new immature animals "setting" on old empty shells. Oyster reefs provide bottom habitat for other marine invertebrates and fish species.

Diet:  Oysters are filter-feeders. They open their shell & pump in water, which draws planktonic food in as well. (Oysters filter so much water that a large population of oysters can effectively help keep a body of water clean.)

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Aquar.Otter-Levi copy

Common Name: North American river otter

Latin Name: Lontra canadensis

Size/weight:  Adult size is about 2.5 – 5 feet long (with tail) and 10 – 30 pounds.

Range: Throughout North America (Alaska, Canada and the lower 48 United States).

Habitat:  River otters can be found in or near fresh water (lakes, streams, marshes, etc…) and in brackish waters.  They build their dens (or take over abandoned dens of other animals) in riverbanks or in a natural hollow near the water.

Diet:  North American river otters find most of their food in the water; amphibians, fish, turtles, crayfish, crabs and other invertebrates are favorites.  Birds, eggs, aquatic plants, and small land mammals are sometimes on a river otter’s menu.

Predators:  Bobcats, coyotes, birds of prey, dogs. Hunting.

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Aquar.GoFish.salmon copy

Common Name: Atlantic salmon (East Coast)

Latin Name: Salmo salar

Size/weight: Up to 4.5 feet and 80 pounds

Range: Arctic Circle to Delaware River, also some landlocked populations.

Habitat: Coastal waters, as well as freshwater rivers and lakes.

Diet: Herring, capelin, sand eels and large plankton.

Predators: Seals, sharks, pollack, tuna, skates, halibut, cod, striped bass, bluefish; humans.

Description:  Long body, brownish above with silvery sides featuring black spots.  Lower jaw hooked up in breeding males, who may also feature red areas on their sides.  Spawns in fresh water, but spends most of its life at sea.

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Common Name: Lined seahorse

Latin Name: Hippocampus erectus

Size/weight:  Up to 5 inches

Range: Nova Scotia to Argentina; Bermuda and Gulf of Mexico

Habitat: Found in shallow waters among grasses

Diet:  Brine shrimp and other live zooplankton.

Predators: Crabs, skates and rays; humans.

Description: Body is upright with a head (shaped liked a horse head) perpendicular to body.  Dorsal fin is fan shaped.  Tail is prehensile and lacks a caudal fin.  Color varies from light brown to almost black and can change depending on the background.  It is the male of the species that gives birth.

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