The Marine Program, which became part of Cornell Cooperative Extension in 1985, is known and respected nationally and internationally.
Our mission is to preserve and protect our waters, provide a clean environment for our fish, fowl and plants while helping those who depend on our marine resources remain sustainable.
Our researchers and educators are busy working to inform Long Islanders how we can each do our part to safeguard our environment. Projects have been designed to bring back our once thriving eelgrass and shell fish populations, ensure our commercial fishing industry continues to thrive while limiting bycatch, provide public education about environmental consequences of storm water runoff, and introduce our young people to marine sciences and marine life on Long Island.
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County is based on the needs of eastern Long Island’s maritime community, culture and dependent economy. Projects within CCE Marine focus on habitat and shellfish restoration and enhancement, fisheries sustainability, storm water runoff tracing and education, and community engagement about local marine science issues through educational programs, workshops and volunteer work. The Marine Program reaches tens of thousands of youth and community members throughout Suffolk County each year.
Since it's inception, CCE Marine has helped the east end of Long Island ensure that its marine resources remain plentiful. CCE experts have led the way with innovative ways to help our community and beyond, including novel gear improvements to help fishermen remain efficient and avoid bycatch, the invention of a floating upweller system to enhance shellfish aquaculture production, a DNA database for species identification as sources of pollution and new methods of restoring seagrass, many of which have been recognized nationally and even internationally. CCE experts hold critical positions and provide invaluable knowledge to local advisory boards, conferences, and municipalities.
Our waters are an integral part of life on Long Island, making it such a desirable place to live. Cornell Cooperative Extension Marine Program works to bridge the gap between scientists and the community by solving environmental challenges in our communities through applied research as well as restoration and enhancement of our marine resources. In order to offer communities, individuals, and businesses opportunities to help us expand our efforts, the Back to the Bays Initiative was born!
In these uncertain times we want you to know that CCE Marine Program is here for you and we’re excited to launch our Digital Education Initiative.
Our team of educators have been working hard to develop content that can be adapted for use by a K-12 audience. Learning tools can be integrated into curriculum by teachers, or utilized as enrichment resources for parents currently homeschooling their children.
The Marine Meadows Program, developed in spring of 2011, is the newest component of Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Eelgrass Program (www.seagrassli.org). Through this initiative, participants are given the opportunity to learn about the biology and importance of eelgrass while participating in unique hands-on restoration efforts. Thanks to an innovative planting method developed by CCE staff, land-based volunteers can get their hands wet while playing a vital role in creating new eelgrass meadows. In the past, this type of work was limited to SCUBA divers and other highly trained Cornell staff, but now everyone from school children to adults can get involved in a meaningful way!
"Spat" is the word for the tiniest form of shellfish that has settled onto the place where it will live out its life. The SPAT program was created to encourage community members to become stewards of their environment and to restore shellfish to the bays.
To augment the limited staff of the Cornell Marine Program, volunteers help produce shellfish to seed the bays. SPAT volunteers and members grow minuscule shellfish (oyster, Crassostrea virginica) - in containment, away from predators, until they reach an adult size when they release their spawn into local creeks and bays and promote wild settlement.
Volunteers and members are offered monthly workshops and provided with shellfish seed and necessary tools and supplies to grow their shellfish gardens either at their own waterfront or in the SPAT community garden. In exchange for a minimal fee, all permits are secured and members may keep their oysters for their personal use. No oysters can be sold.
Our volunteers maintain their own hatchery (the"SPAT Shack"), and nursery. Over 1,000 people have taken part in this program and it continues to grow each year.