09/05/14 1:00pm
09/05/2014 1:00 PM
(Credit: Grant Parpan)

The view behind Latham’s farm stand in Orient. (Credit: Grant Parpan)

That rumbling you hear coming from out east is the sound of restless natives concerned about the future of one of the most iconic vistas on the East End — the one surrounding and behind Latham’s farm stand on the south side of Main Road in Orient. It represents the first view of Orient Harbor (and Shelter Island beyond) as you travel west through the hamlet, and the last view of the harbor as you travel east over the Orient-East Marion Causeway. (more…)

04/07/12 2:00pm
04/07/2012 2:00 PM

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | From left, Ed Densieski of Riverhead and Dave Cullen of South Jamesport harvests scallops in Orient Harbor.

It’s hard to top last year’s scallop season, but the fishermen who hung in there plying the waters these last several months say they weren’t disappointed and expect great things again next year.

“It was a great season, the best season since I started,” said Ed Densieski of Riverhead, who scallops part-time from opening day in November to the season’s close at the end of March. “There are plenty of bugs [baby scallops] out there. I’m thinking next year’s going to be a great year.”

Mr. Densieski said that while opening day was “a zoo” at scalloping hot spots, he saw an average of two to three boats out each day throughout the season.

“I just moved around. I’d work one spot and then another,” he said. “We were lucky to keep finding some. It wasn’t cold. There was no ice to deal with. It was a great year.”

Billy Hands of Orient, who scallops in his free time when he’s not working at the Orient Service Center, agrees.

“I thought it was good and plenty to eat!” he said. “There are lots of bugs out there right now and as long as the summer doesn’t produce a brown tide and water temperatures stay normal, then it should be a great season in November 2012.”

Researcher Stephen Tettelbach, an LIU professor who works with Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Peconic Bay scallop restoration program, said he’s heard mixed reports from baymen this year. He added, however, that he believes many more people were scalloping this year than last year, after word got out that it was expected to be a good year.

“On opening day, the numbers of baymen on the water were in the hundreds,” he said. “I think there was more effort expended this year. It may have spread it around a little more than previous years.”

Mr. Tettelbach said the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has not yet released the number of scallops caught in calendar year 2010, so it will be quite some time until this year’s catch is quantified.

He said he saw many bugs on the bottom last fall and has heard the same from baymen. Bugs are immature scallops less than one year old. Scallops are large enough to be harvested in their second year, after which they die.

“There’s a real buzz about lots of bugs out there. People are seeing very high concentrations,” Mr. Tettelbach said.

He added that one scalloper he knows recently reported that the scallops are fatter and healthier looking than usual for this time of year.

That may be weather related, he said. Because of higher water temperatures, scallops were able to feed on algae during February, when they’re usually in a semi-hibernating state. That’s good for the harvest, but how it might affect the shellfish’s post-season survival is another matter.

“The crunch time that we’ve seen for scallops dying off naturally occurs in April,” said Mr. Tettelbach. “Their metabolic demands are increasing and there may not be as much food around as they need at that time. That seems to be a real critical period of the year.”

Mr. Densieski said he worries that warm temperatures could lead to damaging algae blooms like the brown tide, which nearly wiped out the scallop population in the mid-1980s.

Mr. Tettelbach said there’s no way of knowing how the scallops might do in the short term, particularly this month.

“Time will tell whether that happens at the same rate this year as in the past,” he said.

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08/01/11 9:36am
08/01/2011 9:36 AM

Four boaters were taken to Eastern Long Island Hospital just after 10:30 p.m. Sunday, after their boat hit a buoy in Orient Harbor in East Marion, according to Southold Town Police.

Police said Douglas Fisher, 58, of East Marion was driving the boat when it struck Buoy No. 7, causing damage to the port side of his boat.

He was treated by the East Marion Fire Department Rescue Squad and taken to ELIH, along with his passengers: Felicia Porter, 36, of East Marion, Ashley Farrell, 28 of East Marion and Rachel Knowlton, 27, of Pawtauket, Rhode Island.

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07/29/11 5:24pm
07/29/2011 5:24 PM

SUFFOLK TIMES PHOTO | Shark warning sign posted in East Marion earlier this week.

An eight-foot shark caught in a fisherman’s nets and then released in Orient Harbor earlier this week has become the talk of the town with many as-yet unanswered questions floating about, chief among them is it a man-eater or not?

On July 25 the shark was discovered within the maze of a pound trap, which uses stationary nets affixed to posts to funnel fish such as bluefish and porgies into a central holding area. The shark may have been after the fish, or a gray seal spotted nearby.

When reporting his catch and release to the state Department of Environmental Conservation and other authorities, the fisherman identified the fish as a bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas), one of the three most dangerous in the world, along with great whites and tiger sharks.

Bull sharks are no strangers to shallow coastal waters. But there’s another species found in local waters similar in appearance and size, but is no threat to humans.

And since the animal was set free, there’s no way of positively identifying it.

Hearing that report of a bull shark, George Peter, president of the Gardiners Bay Property Owners Association, which has a community beach in East Marion, put up signs throughout the area the following day warning residents. particularly parents of small children, to be cautious.

Mr. Peter, who spoke with the fisherman, said the size of the fish indicated it was “a serious adult.”

Southold Police chief Martin Flatley said there have been no sightings of the shark since. As a precaution, the police notified the Orient Beach State Park, town lifeguards, the Coast Guard and the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

“From what I’m told, it’s not uncommon for there to be sharks in the water here from time to time,” the chief said. He added that he knows of no report ever filed of a shark attack in Southold waters.

Since he did not see the shark, Emerson Hasbrouck, director of the Cornell Cooperative Extension marine program, couldn’t identify it. But he did say there’s a chance the fish could be a sandbar shark (Carcharhinus plumbeus.) That species and bull sharks both have broad, flat heads and are both found in in-shore waters along the East Coast. The more benign of the two, sandbar sharks eat bunker, skates, squid and crustaceans.

“It’s not unusual for pound net fishermen to catch sharks since there’s a concentration of fish there,” said Mr. Hasbrouck.

He added that sandbar sharks are the second most common large shark caught on the East Coast.