Wainscott Village Inc. Taken to Task

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Letters in the East Hampton Star of July 9th, 2020

False Narrative
East Hampton
July 5, 2020

Dear David,

I have been in and out of politics and government, at every level, for over 40 years. As for political ads, I am not easily shocked. But I was both shocked and saddened to see the full-page ad posted by the Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott. On the Fourth of July weekend, the message appropriated the style and structure of the Declaration of Independence and used it to launch a vicious personal attack on Peter Van Scoyoc, East Hampton’s thoughtful and soft-spoken town supervisor.

The allegations, intended to make the case for the creation of a new village government for Wainscott, were numerous, and either totally false or grossly misrepresented the facts. At this perilous time for our nation when we should all be seeking ways to unite our communities, it is disappointing to see good people of Wainscott manipulated by a handful of super-rich summer residents in order to stop an underground utility cable that would deliver clean, renewable energy to 70,000 South Fork homes and businesses, benefiting us all. And they have added to their list of grievances their opposition to a modest affordable work force housing opportunity that would be located on Route 114 (closer to my home in Northwest Woods than to the mansions on Beach Lane).

Their latest goal is the incorporation of Wainscott as a village with boundaries that run all the way from the Atlantic Ocean to the south side of Route 114, and from Division Street in Sag Harbor to Stephen Hand’s Path in East Hampton. Taxes would be increased dramatically on the homes and businesses within these boundaries to pay for the services and administration of a new village.

This small group of self-interested, part-time residents has created a fearsome false narrative on the perils of the South Fork Wind project, and are asking hundreds of Wainscott residents to foot the bill for the Nimby protection of their exclusive enclave. I hope the good people of East Hampton will not be taken in by this shameful campaign.

Sincerely,

JUDITH HOPE

Former East Hampton

Town supervisor

False Product
Springs
July 6, 2020

Dear David,

Wainscott will be forever changed not by the installation of an underground electric cable to deliver much-needed renewable or by a much-needed mall affordable housing development of new neighbors. It will be forever changed by residents who have decided to sever connections to the community of East Hampton. They want no part in solutions to the needs of the community or responsibility for their contributions to the problems of our town.

However, the deepest tradition of the hamlet of Wainscott is of neighbor helping neighbor, no matter in what part of town help was needed. When the townspeople were beset by a natural or man-made disaster, they did their part to help those in need. They pitched in with all they could. That is the tradition of Wainscott.

Now these town traditions are threatened by an attack-marketing campaign touting creating another layer of government to be controlled by the few. Yes, an incorporated village will be controlled by the few. They say the government positions will be nonsalaried. Ask yourself this question. Who can afford a job with no salary, no benefits, no retirement plan? Do you have the money it takes to campaign against their choices in future village elections? The teams of lawyers and national marketing agencies and engineers that they can afford cost more than yearly salaries for some. Will you forgo your equal representation in town government? Petition: “Signer Beware.”

This campaign began last year with personal attacks on a neighbor whose reputation in this town has been built upon a lifetime of community service and a town leader who has been appointed and elected to your own government for decades. Peter Van Scoyoc is a town leader who refuses to put the power of a few over the needs of the many in his job as supervisor. We have known that for decades. Peter and his family are a part of the fabric of this community, whether you agree with his politics or not. Try as hard as money will buy, they could not redefine Peter, and he won Wainscott by an overwhelming majority in 2019.

The group who have appropriated the name of preservers of what is Wainscott will be the ones who forever change the fundamental core of this entire town. We work together for the good of the many, and not the power of a few.

Good people of Wainscott: It is you who now must preserve the traditions of your community and our town by rejecting the false product you are now being sold.

Sincerely,

CATE ROGERS

Chairwoman

East Hampton

Democratic Committee

At It Again
East Hampton
July 6, 2020

Dear David,

Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott, or C.P.W., is at it again. Don’t let these wealthy self-centered people fool you into doing something that will not benefit you.

In the beginning, C.P.W. was all in favor of the South Fork Wind Farm but now it is not. Initially, C.P.W. did not want a cable buried under Beach Lane on its way north to the L.I.R.R. right of way. C.P.W. raised big funds from the wealthy few involved and hired teams of lawyers, engineers, P.R. firms, etc. C.P.W. waged battle on the Article Seven front with the various New York State agencies, such as the Department of Environmental Conservation, Department of Public Service, Department of Transportation, and Department of State. C.P.W. fought against the East Hampton Town Board, East Hampton Town Trustees, and a variety of other organizations that wanted the best decision for the 70,000 residents who would benefit from the South Fork Wind Farm.

Apparently, C.P.W. sees the handwriting on the wall that few of the 70,000 beneficiaries are on its side. So, C.P.W. upped the ante, and now says that renewable energy is not good, and even if it is, it should be brought in from UpIsland. C.P.W. knows that this would be very expensive since the current infrastructure would need to be replaced to carry the increased load. C.P.W., seeing failure looming, has now hired another law firm to lead the charge to incorporate Wainscott as a village.

C.P.W. makes numerous false allegations against East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc that exist only in the minds of C.P.W. Peter Van Scoyoc has treated this whole process as a fair and thoughtful arbiter of the many issues and concerns around the South Fork Wind Farm. He has been very patient in listening to all sides and giving all sides an opportunity to be heard. Peter Van Scoyoc represents all the residents of East Hampton Town, and C.P.W. is right about one thing: only a small number live in Wainscott. The South Fork Wind Farm will benefit every resident of East Hampton Town, not only with adequate electric power but with cleaner air and water, not to mention bluer skies.

C.P.W. then attacks Peter Van Scoyoc for selling Wainscott’s legacy by burying an electric cable under its roads. I am not sure what legacy they are talking about, but I note there was no complaint or reference to legacy when Peter Van Scoyoc and the East Hampton Town Board provided Suffolk County water to many Wainscott residents. Please note, these water pipes were buried under Wainscott’s roads.

C.P.W. then complains that Peter Van Scoyoc hasn’t reduced the noise sufficiently at East Hampton Airport. C.P.W. knows full well that the airport situation is now controlled by the Federal Aviation Administration, and not by the East Hampton Town Board.

C.P.W. and its wealthy sponsors, who, by the way, are involved in New York City with organizations to help minorities and the disadvantaged, are alleging that Peter Van Scoyoc has failed to control multifamily housing by proposing to build affordable housing on Route 114. The one thing East Hampton needs is affordable housing for its many workers.

C.P.W. is stretching to find any reason to justify incorporating Wainscott. Incorporation will cause taxes to go up in Wainscott and will not give any leverage to Wainscott in the airport noise discussion.

C.P.W. claims its new Wainscott village board will serve without compensation: You get what you pay for.

Wainscott will need to reimburse East Hampton for the millions it spent on the water pipes, and it will need to contract for police, fire, schools, highway maintenance, and all the other village services now provided by the Town of East Hampton.

The South Fork Wind Farm will eliminate the fossil fuel-fired “peaker plants,” which are used in the summer months to meet the increased demand for electricity. These “peaker plants” may get more use now that the pandemic has caused an increase in East Hampton’s population that may not go down in September. These “peaker plants” foul the air and water with CO2, causing air and water pollution to the detriment of humans and fish.

Don’t let these wealthy, self-centered people fool you into doing something that will not benefit you.

JEREMIAH T. MULLIGAN

A Fisherman’s Perspective about Offshore Wind

Paul Forsberg A Fisherman’s Perspective about Offshore Wind after serving 8 months as a Captain on an Offshore Wind Survey Vessel. Click on the below image to see the YouTube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rmu5zQ0OLk

This is a must watch for all of us. Could not say it better.

Climate and Real Estate

GUESTWORDS in the East Hampton Star

By David Posnett

January 1, 2020

There is already evidence of a real estate slump in the United States. A housing recession is predicted for 2020. The average price of luxury home sales is falling, as is the number of sales. Long Island specifically is suffering as sales decrease and homes lose value. This is rather astonishing given that the rest of the economy is still on steroids.

What are the reasons? The following have all been suggested.

First, baby boomers from New York are downsizing and moving to lower-tax states. Second, millennials seem to have a distaste for buying second homes and would rather rent. Third, bonuses on Wall Street fell 17 percent in 2018 compared with 2017.

Fourth, the tax changes brought on by Donald Trump: a cap of $10,000 on the amount of state and local taxes (SALT), including property taxes, that can be deducted from federal income tax. For an expensive home with property taxes of $50,000 per year, this means that $40,000 can no longer be deducted.

Fifth, as mentioned by some real estate professionals: chronic flooding, which threatens the values of houses here. According to Aidan Gardiner writing for The Real Deal, a website focusing on New York real estate news: “Chronic flooding threatens to sink the value of Hamptons homes. Hamptons homes are very likely to lose value given that they’ll face chronic flooding as climate changes and sea levels rise over the coming years, according to Bloomberg. Behind only central California, the area has the second-highest level of its property tax revenue at risk among U.S. municipalities with a high likelihood of chronic flooding in the next 12 years. Climate change is expected to bring constant floods that would tank property values, erode infrastructure, and sink tax revenue, all of which will make it harder to fund projects to battle the rising seas.”

You can check for yourself on ss2.climatecentral.org, where you can find a “risk zone map for surging seas.” See the figure appended below.  You can input anything from “unchecked pollution” to “extreme carbon cuts,” depending on how you predict future policies will rein in carbon emissions.

I assumed unchecked carbon emissions along the lines of our present-day emissions, and I asked for maps of a 10-foot water level rise. The program produces maps with dark blue shaded areas that will be underwater. Here are some of the highlights for the not so distant future (2050 to 2100).

Montauk will become an island, the Napeague stretch will be underwater, and much of downtown Montauk will be too, including Route 27. Flooding of Route 27 across Napeague will start with just a three-foot rise in sea water levels, shutting down access to Montauk.

Homes all around Accabonac Harbor will be flooded. Gerard Drive and Louse Point will be submerged. Maidstone Park, Sammy’s Beach, and Cedar Point will be gone. Barcelona Point and the Sag Harbor Golf Course will become an island.

Beach homes in Amagansett, homes along Two Mile Hollow Beach, homes around Hook Pond, Georgica Pond, and Wainscott Pond will all be underwater. Indeed, a few homes on Beach Lane in Wainscott will be submerged. That is where the cable from the South Fork Wind Farm is proposed to come ashore and where some of its opponents own property.

Much of Sag Harbor Village will be underwater, and North Haven will be a real island.

Up and down Long Island, the homes close to the South Shore will be underwater, and Fire Island will no longer exist.

The North Shore, too, will be flooded, and Greenport will be on an island.

Kennedy International Airport will be underwater.

It is not just someone else’s problem. Loss of value of high-end homes means loss of significant local business and loss of jobs, and it spills over, resulting in loss of the value of your own property regardless of whether it is in particular danger of flooding.

Showtime’s “The Affair” recently wrapped up its final season, and part of it was set in mid-21st-century Montauk, with warming temperatures and rising seas. The show forecasts what life will look like in 34 short years, including mass transit that routinely short-circuits because of flooding, coastal communities plunged into near-total darkness, and shoreline towns without basic municipal services.

We had better support clean energy (including offshore wind) and work to decrease our carbon footprint. It is urgent.

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David Posnett is a member of the Steering Committee of Win With Wind.

Wainscott Best Site to Bury Power Cable

OpinionLetters, By Newsday Readers December 16, 2019 10:02 AM

Richard DeRose of Wainscott walks his dog at

Richard DeRose of Wainscott walks his dog at the town beach on Beach Lane in Wainscott, likely site of a cable landing for the South Fork Wind Farm. Dec. 5 Credit: Newsday/Mark Harrington

Thanks for your Dec. 9 news story on the South Fork offshore wind project [“Negotiations over cable”] about talks regarding the landing site of an electrical cable. As a former commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, I’m no stranger to local opposition to projects like this. But the opposition by Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott to the cable landing is “not in my backyard” on steroids. I encourage this small group of owners of second homes to reconsider.

The cable landing in Wainscott is preferred because it is the least environmentally disruptive and would affect the fewest people for the shortest period. Unfortunately, despite the need to rapidly move away from fossil fuels, the citizens group is taking an irrational “anyplace but here” attitude. The temporary inconvenience from burying the cable would be minimal, and would occur in the offseason, when most owners of second homes are not around.

Connecting this offshore energy to the Long Island grid is now being reviewed by several state agencies. I believe this time-tested process, along with decisions by local officials, will produce a project that is good for the South Fork, Long Island and the state. I urge citizens of Wainscott to support it. After all, coastal property owners have the most to lose if New York does not lead the way in combating climate change.

Joe Martens, East Hampton

Editor’s note: The writer is director of the New York Offshore Wind Alliance, a coalition of organizations supporting wind power.

Get with the Program

LTE published in the East Hampton Star:

Negotiation
East Hampton
December 23, 2019

To the Editor:

Initially, Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott claimed that it supported the South Fork Wind Farm but did not want the cable buried under Beach Lane. Interesting, Wainscott made no objection earlier in the year to East Hampton Town and Suffolk County burying nine miles of water pipe in Wainscott roadways (including Beach Lane) when the water quality of Wainscott’s aquifer was called into question.

Next, C.P.W. argued that the cable should come ashore at Hither Hills. The plan was to bury it under Montauk Highway from Hither Hills through Amagansett and East Hampton Village and then up Route 114 to the Cove Hollow Road substation. This would be very disruptive to homes, businesses, and traffic along this 11-mile route. This would take two off-seasons to complete. When asked why this was preferable, Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott had no answer. F.Y.I., Beach Lane has six year-round residences.

Now, C.P.W. is opposed to the wind farm because the price negotiated with LIPA is too high. The agreement between Deepwater/Orsted and LIPA (which was approved by the New York State Public Service Commission) was the result of a public bid, which Deepwater/Orsted won because it provided electricity at the lowest cost. Now, four-plus years later, new wind farm bids are coming in even lower. Such prices will benefit South Fork residents since PSEG prices are based on a mix of all the prices it pays for the electricity it delivers. Lower prices for power from the newer wind farms will lower PSEG costs, and thus bills to consumers will go down.

Recently, C.P.W. claimed, without any supporting details, that within five years there would be more efficient and affordable ways to solve the power needs on the East End. Ninety-nine percent of scientists agree climate change is a current crisis. We need immediate action to address South Fork power needs, air pollution, health risks, sea level rise, as well as the existential crisis of climate change.

Finally, C.P.W. complains that Orsted is breaking its promise to explore the Hither Hills route in the Public Service Commission settlement negotiations, which are ongoing. Significant time was spent on the Hither Hills route during those negotiations, and on Jan. 8, at the request of C.P.W., an additional settlement negotiation will be held to allow C.P.W. to present its alternative route.

Orsted has gone out of its way to cooperate with C.P.W. The only deception has been on the part of C.P.W., which has little credibility. Clearly, C.P.W. is just a small, moneyed Nimby group who wants electricity for Wainscott without any involvement or inconvenience on their part.

It’s time for C.P.W. to get with the program and support the wind farm, which will provide electricity to 70,000 South Fork homes, including the 700 or so in Wainscott.

JERRY MULLIGAN

This is just the Beginning of Climate Change

Corn crops affected by Texas drought, 2013 | Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Letter to the Editor in the East Hampton Star
East Hampton
December 2, 2019

Dear David,

At check-out in Brent’s Store in Amagansett, a wizened fisherman blamed state regulators for the fact that the tags he’s allocated now allow him to catch barely enough fish for his own family table. And as a New York Times headline announced, “The Scallops Are All Dead.”

While we look for local influences, we ignore at our peril the fact that it is a global problem.

This week, to pick one from a thousand stories, The Washington Post profiled Tombwa, Angola, where in the 1990s there were 20 fish factories processing tons of fish coming from the sea. Now there is one factory left. The fish species recently thriving there have collapsed in the overheated water. Trawlers ranging from distant ports are gobbling up what remains.

Ten years ago Bill McKibben wrote, “Climate Change is about whether you eat or don’t eat.” Deniers called it alarmism.

This year, as temperatures in Bordeaux reached 106 degrees, the vineyards were parched and wine production was down 13 percent. Corn production suffered the same fate.

In the American Midwest unprecedented rain bombs flooded the fields and destroyed billions of dollars’ worth of crops. Last year (or was it the year before?) multi-year drought destroyed countless acres of nut orchards that had been prosperous for generations in California. A recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate report predicts a 2 to 6 percent decline in worldwide crop yields per decade going forward, at the same time as population swells.

Sidewalk experts, including the entire Republican Party, still scoff at the science. “These scientists can’t make up their minds. One day it’s drought, the next day it’s flood! Which is it, they don’t know what they’re talking about. They can’t predict the weather next week, and they claim to predict it 20 years from now. Gimme a break!”

More people now understand that we should have listened to James Hansen when he was informing the American Congress 30 years ago about climate disruption. Imagine how far we could have come in 30 years toward slowing the onset. Still we dither instead of taking personal responsibility for the problem.

Drive down any street lined with parked cars and note that most of them are SUVs. Their growth in popularity has canceled out the benefits we might have gained in the incipient move to electric vehicles. We burn as much gas now as we did before electrification because mammoth SUVs use more gas than the smaller cars we used to drive, not to mention the sky parade of private jets roaring in and out of our airport. So much for self-regulation in the face of global catastrophe.

Demagogues and religious zealots around the world can turn men without hope into terrorists. This is just the beginning. The World Bank projects 143 million climate-displaced migrants by 2050, and stresses that this is a lower bound estimate, with the numbers certain to go much higher, perhaps sooner, assuredly later.

As we approach the 2020 elections, no matter how you have voted in the past, if you care about fish, or food in general for the children you love, remember that we have two parties in this country with radically different attitudes about climate change. Forget about the personal foibles of candidates that the media love to dwell on.

Remember that one party makes its living serving the interests of the fossil fuel industry. The other party is finally listening to scientists and young people who will inherit this planet, and committing to meaningful action. Climate change is no longer about 2100, Bangladesh, or polar bears. It has come to this: not just in the long run, but for millions alive today in America, including the fisherman at Brent’s, nothing else matters.

DON MATHESON

Kemp’s Ridley Turtle

On my daily beach walk I came across this dead animal (about 1 week ago, on the Lion Head beach close to the entrance to Hog Creek, in Springs, East Hampton):

Based on the pictures I took, it’s now been identified as Kemp’s Ridley Turtle. This is a critically endangered species. In fact it is the most endangered sea turtle species!

Obviously we would all like to know why this rare animal showed up on our beach, and what might have caused its death.

Adult turtles which reach sexual maturity at the age of 7-15 years, measure about 27″ in length. This specimen measured about approx. 15″ and was therefore a juvenile.

Kemp’s Ridley can be found along the Atlantic coast as far north as New Jersey. Mature adults migrate back to their nesting beach in Mexico every year: female Kemp’s Ridley turtles come together all at once in what is known as an arribada, which means “arrival” in Spanish. Nearly 95 percent of Kemp’s Ridley nesting worldwide occurs in Tamaulipas, Mexico. Nesting is usually between May and July, and females will lay up to three clutches of 100 eggs that must incubate for 50-60 days.

Hatchlings spend up to 10 years in the open ocean as juveniles. Kemp’s Ridley turtles occupy “neritic” zones, which contain muddy or sandy bottoms where their preferred prey is plentiful. Even in the ocean, the Kemp’s Ridley turtles rarely swim in waters deeper than about 160 feet.

Kemp’s Ridley turtles face many threats to their survival including incidental capture in fishing gear, or bycatch, egg collection by predators and climate change.

What was the cause of death for our turtle? Kemp’s Ridley turtles do not tolerate cold water below 8 degrees Celsius. East Hampton waters are currently about 10 degrees Celsius. So it seems that the turtle was too far north for its comfort zone. Note that it’s left front flipper seems to be missing or seriously mangled. This suggests that the turtle may have been injured, perhaps by fishing trawlers. Incidental take by shrimp trawlers in the gulf of Mexico is a recognized hazard for this species.

Finally, there is the possibility that ocean acidification from climate change has altered the food chain for this species as noted by OCEANA. Kemp’s Ridley turtle feeds on mollusks, crustaceans, jellyfish, fish, algae, seaweed, and sea urchins. But juveniles (such as our specimen) feed on crabs[13] and on bay scallops.

It’s interesting that bay scallops in the Peconic bay have recently suffered a die-off discussed elsewhere on this blog and possibly related to ocean acidification.

Bottom line: you don’t have to look far to witness a species in trouble!

Interesting website where you can find data on any species: f.ex. Kemp’s Ridley turtle

I note that this species likes waters with high salinity (over 30 PSU), see above. The following map shows that our waters around Long Island have much lower average salinity (less than 25 PSU). Thus both the low temperature and the low salinity represent a hostile environment for Kemp’s Ridley Turtles.

Friend of Fish and the Oceans

WWW is a friend of fish and all the creatures living in our oceans!

Even as the oceans are acidifying and warming at alarming rates, and species are migrating northwards, the opposition to off-shore wind energy suggests wind farms will bring harm to fish, or to whales, etc.  Healthy oceans spell abundant fish and are good for the fishing industry and some fishermen recognize this.

In our opening statement regarding the South Fork Wind Farm, pinned to the top of this blog it sta­­tes:

WILL THIS HURT OUR FISHERMEN?
After listening to commercial fishermen, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management made sure that wind turbines and cable will avoid Cox’s Ledge, a valuable commercial fishing area. In fact, existing wind turbines off Block Island attract marine life to them, imitating an artificial reef.

For years, researchers have warned that the increasing acidity of the oceans is likely to create a whole host of problems for the marine environment. Check it out: the evidence is already here.

One of the biggest problems is that zooplankton is shifting poleward as a result of warming ocean temperatures. The findings, published in the journal Nature, show the widespread impact climate change is having on marine ecosystems. Scientists have warned that while some species will be able to follow their food source to new waters, many others will not. Even at 1 degree [Celsius] of warming, species have to adapt because their food source has disappeared. As an example, read about the migration of stingrays that have wiped out oyster beds in the Chesapeake Bay and have moved to the Peconic Bay this year!

Here is something fun you can do. Go to https://poshtide.threadless.com/collections. Pick your favorite fish (or shell fish) design and order a holiday gift: tee shirt, slippers, back pack, pillow, beach towel, zip pouch, or even a shower curtain! If you are on Instagram check out @staceyposnett an incredibly gifted artist and designer and a big environmentalist. You can also order custom items which include the Win With Wind logo.

https://poshtide.com/

https://poshtide.threadless.com

Poshtide@gmail.com

https://winwithwind.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/screen-shot-2019-11-05-at-8.45.32-pm.png?w=955

Example of items on Poshtide with the oyster motif!

About the artist:

Bay Scallop Die-off related to Climate Change?

Publication: The Southampton Press By Michael Wright   Nov 5, 2019 10:25 AM

Nov 5, 2019 4:59 PM

Dead Bay Scallop

A massive and mysterious die-off of bay scallops over the past summer wiped out as much of 95 percent of the valuable and iconic shellfish in parts of the Peconic Bay system, raising concerns about the effect that climate change may have on the future of the East End’s most famous natural resource.

The scale of the losses, the scientists who have documented the destruction said, is so great in some areas as to be reminiscent of the devastation wreaked by some of the infamous “brown tide” algae blooms of the late 1980s and early 1990s, which decimated the wild stock and all but ended a centuries-old commercial fishing industry that relied solely on harvests from the East End’s bays.

The cause of this year’s devastation is not immediately clear, but scientists say that the arch-enemy of bay scallops — algae blooms like brown tide and the more recent “rust tide” — do not appear to be at fault, and other likely culprits also do not seem to be to blame.

What’s left to blame, according to one of researchers who has tracked the die-off, is a confluence of environmental conditions and the stresses of the scallops’ own biological cycles that may have killed the shellfish, even as they sowed the seeds of next year’s stock.

There is some good news amid the devastation, primarily because half the reason that the scale of the die-off is remarkable is that there were so many live scallops to start with — and they appear to have spawned before they died, leaving huge numbers of their offspring in their place.

Population Takes A Nose Dive
Surveys conducted by Cornell Cooperative Extension biologists last spring had revealed that the annual “set” of young-of-the-year scallops was enormous and on track to support a commercial take rivaling or surpassing those of the robust hauls of the last two years.

But when the scientists donned wetsuits and returned to their underwater survey areas throughout the Peconics early last month, they found the ghostly signs of an epic massacre: thousands of scallops sitting where they died, their shells gaping open.

“We call them ‘cluckers,’” Dr. Stephen Tettelbach, who leads the surveying for Cornell, said of the dead scallops, whose twin shells have remained attached and sitting on the bay floor. “Based on the cluckers, it looks like the mortality happened a while ago — a few months, probably. The pattern was the same everywhere we went — there were no freshly dead adult scallops. They had no tissue left in them. So whatever happened to them happened a while ago.”

A longtime marine biology professor for Long Island University at Southampton College and C.W. Post College, Dr. Tettelbach has been conducting bi-annual surveys of scallop populations since LIU and Cornell began an effort to restore the scallop stocks depleted by the brown tides that beset the bays between 1986 and 1995. Through the Cornell hatchery in Southold, the initiative released more than 10 million seedling-sized scallops into the bay over the last two decades in the hope of restoring the spawning foundation for the species.

Looking For Answers
Since discovering this year’s die-off, Dr. Tettelbach and other scientists have been exploring what could have caused the mortality.

The destruction of harmful algae blooms was quickly ruled out, because there were none in the Peconics this year — the second straight year that the destructive successor to the brown tides, a red algae bloom that scientists have dubbed “rust tide,” has been absent from local bays, after a 15-year run of increasingly dense blooms.

Dr. Tettelbach himself had pinned a large die-off of scallops in the same area in 2012 on the dense blooms of rust tide that killed what had looked to be a robust stock just weeks before the harvest began.

The second thought about this year’s event — a disease of some sort — also is being seen as unlikely, because the die-off does not appear to have extended to juvenile scallops, which the survey divers saw alive and in great abundance.

And the vast extent of the mortality could not be chalked up to the usual cast of submarine characters that prey on scallops like crabs, whelks and some fish species.

But there was a wild card this year in the form of an invasion of a certain species of shellfish-eating stingrays that have wiped out oyster beds in the Chesapeake Bay.

Thousands of cownose rays, a brown-winged creature that feeds primarily on shellfish, swarmed into East End waters in July and August, roaming the bay bottoms in schools of dozens or hundreds.

Dr. Tettelbach said there were accounts of the rays being seen in Hallock Bay, in Orient, but he has not yet confirmed that they made their way deep into the Peconics. He said the rays could explain the disappearances in some of the areas where large number of scallops had been seen in the spring, and now there are no signs of them at all.

But the species would not be easy to blame for the full extent of scallop losses this summer, since there were so many intact shells left behind as a sign that the scallops simply died where they sat. The shells of scallops set upon by the rays would be crushed, he said.

A Matter Of Climate?
Eliminating those considerations turned the former professor’s critical thinking to other environmental factors, and the warm temperatures of the summer.

Data from water monitoring stations at the western end of the Peconics revealed that water temperatures hovered around 84 degrees for several weeks this summer — an unusually long stretch of exceptionally high temperatures, and near what is understood to be the lethal limit for scallops.

In a typical parallel, levels of dissolved oxygen in the water were also very low — near zero at times — which typically will result in the death of any marine species.

But those conditions have occurred before at various times of past summers, and broad die-offs of scallops were not seen.

Dr. Tettelbach said his hypothesis is that the high water temperatures and low dissolved oxygen levels had set in early enough this year as to coincide with the weeks of early- to mid-summer when scallops are going through their first spawning cycle — some will spawn again in the fall — which can weaken them and make them more sensitive to environmental conditions.

“What I’m thinking is that the stress from spawning combined with environmental stressors may have been the cause,” he said, noting that if his hypothesis is correct, it would exacerbate concerns about a trend of warming waters. “We’ve had water temperatures in the Peconics over 80 degrees the last five years. Years ago, we never saw that.”

Impacting Local Economy
Word of the scientific findings was not news to area baymen, some of whom routinely do their own pre-season surveying to keep tabs on their economic prospects for the fall.

Many didn’t even set out in their boats in search of scallops on Monday, the first day of the season in New York State waters.

“I went clamming today,” Edward Warner, a bayman from Hampton Bays, who is also a Southampton Town Trustee, said on Monday. “The only other time I can remember not going scalloping on the first day was, maybe, 1986, the first year we had the brown tide.”

Among those who did go, many found little return for their efforts.

“I had 14,” said Stuart Heath, a bayman from Montauk who scoured traditional scallop grounds in Shelter Island Sound. “I went all around North Haven, from Margarita guy’s house … to Sag Harbor, around the moorings, Barcelona, all around Northwest. Terrible. We’ve had a terrible year already — now this.”

Wainscott bayman Greg Verity said he ran his small boat across to the North Fork and found enough scallops to fill several bushel baskets, but he was still well short of the 10 bushels that a bayman is allowed to harvest each day.

East Hampton’s baymen said there’s only a faint glimmer of hope, when East Hampton waters open next week, that there may be some scallops lurking in areas that haven’t been prospected.

The Cornell scientists conduct their surveys in the string of bays connected to Great Peconic Bay, from Flanders Bay in the west to Orient Harbor in the east. They do not survey any of the waters off East Hampton — where scalloping is not allowed until this coming Sunday.

Pre-season scouting has not given East Hampton’s baymen much cause for hope, either.

Mr. Heath and Mr. Verity said they’d heard talk of scallops in Three Mile Harbor, where the town releases thousands of hatchery-raised baby scallops each year. But that supply is often depleted quite quickly, especially when the harvest in other areas is poor.

On Monday evening, Mr. Verity and Sara Miranda were counting themselves as lucky while they shucked their way through the briny pile of scallops on a steel table set up in a trailer next to Mr. Verity’s cottage in Wainscott.

“I’ll sell ’em to whoever wants ’em,” he said, as he flicked the glistening white morsels of meat into a pile.

The scene was not being replicated in many of the seafood shops around the region.

“So far, we’ve got nothing, not even one bushel,” said Danny Coronesi at Cor-J Seafood in Hampton Bays, one of the areas largest buyers.

“I’ve been here a long time. We’ve never had this. Even on bad years, opening day some guys would come in with them.” He added, “We had thought this was going to be a great year.”

Comment from Win With Wind: Scientists quoted think global warming is causing this die-off. Are scallops the canary in the coal mine for the marine environment and when will all local fishermen understand that global warming will destroy their industry, not offshore wind?