"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?!


Common Name:  Harbor seal

Latin Name:  Phoca vitulina

Size/weight:  Between 5 and 6 feet long; 175 – 225 pounds. Males are sometimes larger.

Range:  Harbor seals can be found throughout the northern Atlantic, along both coasts.

Habitat: Harbor seals “haul out” on offshore rocks and sand bars in the Sound that are exposed during low tide. The term “haul out” refers both to the location like a rock where the seal is resting (the “haul out” site) and to the action of a seal climbing out of the water onto land (to “haul out”).

Diet: Varies regionally, but generally consists of fish, crabs, lobster and squid.

Predators: Main predators include killer whales and sharks. Large eagles, coyotes and gulls have been known to prey on seal pups.

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Common Name: Forbes sea star

Latin Name: Asterias forbesi

Size/weight: Five or so inches in diameter

Range: Gulf of Maine to Texas

Habitat: Low tide line to depths of 160 feet; rock, gravel or sandy bottom.

Diet: Clams, scallops and oysters.  Stomach is everted into the prey animal, where it digests the tissue.

Predators:  Spider crabs and, occasionally, lobsters.

Description: Five arms radiating from a central core with an eye at the end of each arm, thousands of tiny tube feet, and a mouth on bottom.  Tough, almost spiny skin; color brownish red or orange.  The sea star is able to regenerate severed arms.

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Common Name: Green sea turtle

Latin Name:  Chelonia mydas

Size/weight:  Green turtles are the largest of all the hard-shelled sea turtles. They can grow up to 4 feet long and 400+ pounds.

Range: Tropical and sub-tropical waters around the world. In the western Atlantic, as far north as Massachusetts (including Long Island Sound) in summers. Nesting occurs in over 80 countries.

Habitat:  Primarily coastal areas, where they’ll find the plants they eat. 

Diet: Adult green turtles are unique among sea turtles in that they eat only plants; they are herbivorous, feeding primarily on seagrasses and algae. This diet is thought to give them greenish-colored fat, from which they take their name.

Predators:  Newly hatched turtles are vulnerable to everything from raccoons and gulls to crabs and large fish. Some sharks may prey on adult sea turtles.

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loggerhead turtle

Common Name: Loggerhead sea turtle

Latin Name:  Caretta caretta

Size/weight:  Up to 38 inches long and 250-300 pounds when fully grown.

Range: Found in warmer waters in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans.  In the western Atlantic, loggerheads can be found from Newfoundland to Argentina.  Juvenile loggerheads sometimes visit Long Island Sound during the summer.

Habitat:  Loggerheads can be found throughout their range anywhere from shoreline lagoons, bays and river mouths to thousands of miles out to sea.  Nests are typically dug on sandy beaches between the high tide line and the beginning of dunes or vegetation.

Diet:  Mollusks, crustaceans, fish, etc.

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sand tiger

Common Name: Sand Tiger Shark  (known in other parts of the world as the spotted ragged-tooth shark and the grey nurse shark)

Latin Name:  Carcharias taurus

Size:  Males, to about 6.5 feet long;  females, to over 7 feet.  Reports of lengths to 10 feet.

Range:  Worldwide in subtropical and temperate waters except for the eastern Pacific. In the western Atlantic, from the Gulf of Maine (including Long Island Sound) down to Florida, as well as around the Bahamas and the northern Gulf of Mexico.

Habitat:  Coastal waters, including bays and estuaries (including Long Island Sound), usually closer to the bottom in depths down to 100 feet.

Diet:  Wide variety of fish and invertebrates

Predators:  They're an apex predator, so only larger sharks. Humans are the real concern. (See Conservation Note)

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