"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?!

The Long Island Sound Biodiversity Database

What is Biodiversity?

measure fish 4webIt’s the quantity of plant and animal species found in an environment. (The word is contraction of “biological diversity.”) The more diverse a habitat, the better chance it has of surviving a change or threat to it, because it is more likely to be able to make a balancing adjustment. Habitats with little biodiversity (e.g., Arctic tundra) are more vulnerable to change.

The Long Island Sound Biodiversity Database is a searchable web resource to monitor species trends on Long Island Sound. Partners collecting data include The Maritime Aquarium, SoundWaters, SoundKeeper and the Bridgeport Aquaculture School.

Data is collected on 125 species of marine organism and water quality variables including pH, salinity, temperature, turbidity and dissolved oxygen. You can go to the database at the link below and run your own reports.
Click on tma.evendata.com. The public user name is Public User and the password is password. They are case sensitive.

For more information on how to use the database or involve your group or class to collect data, please contact Dave Hudson at (203) 852-0700, ext. 2304.


Project Limulus (Horseshoe Crab Tagging)

This tag-and-release research/education project focuses on the population ecology of the horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus) in Long Island Sound.

Horseshoe.tag.4scrollDr. Jennifer Mattei of Sacred Heart University's Biology Department is the principle investigator of this long-term community-wide research project. The Maritime Aquarium participates by tagging and collecting data on horseshoe crabs encountered during field studies with students and study cruises with school groups and the public.

One reason for the study:  survival of migratory shorebirds has been linked to the horseshoe crab's breeding season. Each spring, migrating shorebirds consume horseshoe crab eggs, helping to fuel their long trip north to breed. In addition, the federally protected loggerhead sea turtle also depends on horseshoe crabs for food.

Horseshoe crabs are important to us because of a component in their blood that is used to detect bacterial contamination in manufactured drugs and other pharmaceutical products. Thus, the crabs are commercially harvested for this reason ... and also for use in eel pots by fishermen.

By understanding the population dynamics of this species, we will be better able to manage their harvest and prevent their extinction.

Other participants include Project Oceanology in Groton, Soundwaters in Stamford, the Bridgeport Aquaculture School, the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History in New Haven, and the Connecticut Audubon Coastal Center in Milford.

Spring Taggings

Horseshoe crabs come up onto beaches to spawn on the nights of the full and new moons in spring. That’s a tagging bonanza time for researchers, so extra volunteers are needed to help.

To participate in 2017, volunteers should attend one of two training sessions at the Aquarium: at 7 p.m. on either Wed., May 10 or Sun., May 21. They’ll learn about the natural history of horseshoe crabs, what has been learned so far from the census work, and how to safely tag horseshoe crabs. Volunteers should be in 10th grade or older. Younger children can assist if working with a parent, teacher or guardian.

Tagging sessions at Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk will be held on selected early mornings and late nights in late May, June and July.

To sign up or for more details about the training sessions, call The Maritime Aquarium at (203) 852-0700, ext. 2281, or e-mail bcervero@maritimeaquarium.org.