Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Patron Saint of Long Island Sound - Part 1

Back in March when I first started blogging, my very first blog was a short discombobulated piece of poorly written thoughts that doesn't make sense even now. The information alluded to in that small paragraph came from many factors, but mostly from on tireless retiree who had made things about Long Island Sound his passion. At that time he volunteered for the Long Island Sound Task Force (not the EPA, but a private not for profit environmental group now called Save the Sound) and was helping them conduct different measurements of Long Island Sound. At that time I was still getting my ears wet at the Health Department Lab and was only doing a little thinking beyond the flasks before me. I had one great flaw and that was I was insanely curious and would try to conduct as many tests as possible on a single sample that I possibly could. The Local environmental groups loved me and I would do minimal cost work for them on samples they would bring in (Save our shores, Save the Sound, and another group in Fairfield) as well as some of the towns that did not have labs (Darien, Westport and Fairfield). We would try to be on the forefront of the tests that were being used, but would always hold on to some of the old ones to maintain a continuous thread. It was in this mix in 1985, I met Art Glowka. He seemed old then, but full of energy and he would question everything, what the data meant, how the data was compared to other data and always the conclusions drawn from that data. He was and is a fisherman and became to realize had established himself as a intense environmentalist. He worked with Bobby Kennedy on the Hudson River Foundation that got GE to stop dumping PCB s into the Hudson river and was on the committee that decided where United Way dollars were spent. Not someone to trifle with, but his manner was to challenge with questions and I kinda liked that. He got me involved with Save the Sound, where I helped them build a chlorophyll lab to determine what was in the samples they got. He then presented a strange picture to me...the fish populations were declining and no one was even aware of it.
Now for me, Long Island Sound was a place where I heard many stories from an older friend of bonanzas of fish many years earlier and even when I first moved here in 1977, I would fish and catch descent size fish for eating and then it seemed to get harder and I lost interest in fishing here and would take my friend down to Virginia Beach to spend time and fish and there was no lack. So I could actually relate to the issue. As he explained things to me they actually made sense and then he became Shellfish Commissioner for Stamford and basically had on board other persons who were interested in the Environment and Fishing and Clamming. William Thorne would collect samples form off docks and down the Noroton River; Fred Stunkle would give me his detailed fish records so I setup a website - Westerlongislandsound.com (which no longer exists today) to explain in detail the fish decline by showing well kept records of some of the catch and release fishermen, some of the records of the Audubon society showing a decline in bird life, records of empty bluefish stomachs, some of the charter fishing boat records and an extremely interesting study done by a man named G. Capriulo, who worked with the DEP on a grant from the National Science Foundation who basically said size matters and we have changed the size of the plankton in the Long Island Sound...
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