Experience The Sound to Feature 40+ Groups, Free Raw Bar, Family-Friendly Activities

The Town of Greenwich Shellfish Commission is organizing the 13th annual “Experience the Sound” event at Greenwich Point on Sunday, June 23 from 1:00pm to 4:00pm, with more participants than ever.

The family-friendly event is free and open to the public – no beach pass required. Children will also enjoy face painting from Faces by Wells.

The theme of the event is “From Streams Through Soil to Sea.”

At one end of Greenwich Point, at Innis Arden Cottage, the  Bruce Museum’s Seaside Center will be open for the season and volunteers will share information about a variety of sea creatures.

Plastic bag full of plastic bags, a thing of the past in Greenwich.

Outside Innis Arden Cottage a number of organizations will have tables set up, including BYOGreenwich, who worked to get Greenwich’s ordinance adopted to ban plastic bags in retail outlets. Also, their Reusable Carryout Bag Initiative encourages retail establishments to have reusable bags available for purchase.

Since Greenwich passed its plastic bag ordinance, many other towns in Connecticut have followed suit including Hamden, Mansfield, Middletown, New Britain, New Canaan, Norwalk and Stamford. Westport passed a plastic bag ban a decade ago.

Like BYO Greenwich, Skip the Straw  aims to increase awareness about the impact of single-use plastics and to protect ecosystems, the environment and the economy through community outreach and education.

Plastic waste enters rivers and the Long Island Sound, and litters our neighborhoods, choking economies, harming wildlife and impacting public health.   Skip the Straw Greenwich encourages residents and businesses to take simple steps to protect the beauty and health of these natural resources and stem the tide of litter and waste… one straw at a time.

Also look for volunteers from Audubon Greenwich, whose mission is to engage and educate people to conserve, restore, and enjoy nature—focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats.

Folks from Project Limulus are all about horseshoe Crabs! Project Limulus, run by Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, studies the Long Island Horseshoe Crab (Limulus polyphemus) population. Everyone is invited to participate in the research by reporting sightings of tagged Horseshoe Crabs.

Archeologist Earnest Wiegand will demonstrate a number of historical artifacts found in the region. He is a Professor of Archeology, Geology and Sociology at Norwalk Community College, and his area of specialization is in northeastern prehistoric and historic archeology.

There will also be a table with representatives from UConn. Greenwich’s Shellfish Commission and Conservation Commission have a partnership with UConn in which researchers monitor Greenwich Cove, which is something of a laboratory in itself.

They seek to pinpoint sources of pollution, study underwater shellfish farms and look at the ways climate change is impacting Long Island Sound. The ultimate goal of the partnership is to preserve the health and beauty of Long Island Sound.

Calf Island Conservancy will be on hand to provide information about their programs and educational opportunities for summer fun. Calf Island is the largest offshore island in Greenwich and is part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge.

Another of the Shellfish Commission’s partners in conservation is the Friends of Greenwich Point who will have information about their projects including sand dune and habitat restoration, nature education, and preservation.

Free Shuttle Bus
Because the event spans the entire park, the Shellfish Commission has organized a free air conditioned shuttle bus from Innis Arden Cottage to the board-a-boat area near the Old Greenwich Yacht Club where people can tour Ed Stillwagon‘s Atlantic Clam Farms eco-friendly shellfishing barge.

The barge was built with cutting edge technology that improves the water quality and biodiversity of the Sound while collecting clams. Atlantic Clam Farms will supply oysters for the free raw bar from 1:00 to 4:00 (or while supplies last).

Stella Mar Oysters, will be also supply oysters to raw bar. Stella Mar Oysters farm contributes to a thriving ecosystem in Long Island Sound. As a direct result of their farm, essential habitat evolves for other species to live in.

✓ Stella Mar Oysters filter up to 50 gallons of water per day.

✓ For every oyster consumed from their farm, three more are created in the wild.

✓ Each oyster is touched over 20 times before being sent off to market.

Oysters from the free raw bar at the Experience the Sound event. Photo: Leslie Yager

Oysters from the free raw bar at the Experience the Sound event. Photo: Leslie Yager

Shucking oysters at the rawbar at the Experience the Sound event. Credit: Leslie Yager

Photo: Stella Mar Oysters website

Photo: Stella Mar Oysters website

Also stop by the Town of Greenwich Police Boat, which used by the Greenwich Police Marine section to provide law enforcement and emergency services on Greenwich’s 31 miles of coastline.

The Old Greenwich Yacht Club will also be open during the event. Membership in the family-oriented club is open to all Greenwich residents with an interest in boating, regardless of knowledge, ability or boat ownership.

Established in 1943, OGYC provides the opportunity for town residents to get out onto the water, whether by sail, power or paddle.  For a modest membership fee Greenwich residents can enjoy educational, cruise, race, and social events that enhance skills and promote fellowship among boaters. The foundation of OGYC is its 350 member families, their commitment to the Club and their volunteering spirit.

You’ll also want to meet JP Velotti of East Coast Kelp Farm. Kelp is a unique new crop harvested from Long Island Sound.

Though kelp won’t be showing up at farmers markets just yet, the long, frilly green-brown ribbons gathered by the boatload in Long Island Sound have the potential to fuel a locally grown edible seaweed market. Mr. Vellotti plants and harvests kelp in underground beds leased from the state. Kelp thrives in cold water, and is ready for harvest just as the summer boating season gets under way. Perfect timing for Experience the Sound!

Guests will also be able to tour the teaching vessel of Long Island Sound the schooner SoundWaters, which is a representation of a three-masted, 19th century sharpie schooner.

SoundWaters works with 146 schools and organizations across Long Island Sound.

On the schooner, Long Island Sound is both the classroom and playground for students who learn about both science and sailing.

The Astronomical Society of Greenwich will have free telescope demonstrations for solar observation, finding the crescent Moon, Venus, and perhaps even Jupiter in the daytime sky, and will be providing information about the ASG and ecological aspects of astronomy such as reducing light pollution.

Other participants include Trout Unlimited, who will be providing free fly casting lessons for adults and children. Trout Unlimited is a grassroots conservation organization dedicated to improving the ecological health of rivers and streams throughout the state. Their motto is, “If you take care of the fish, the fishing will take care of itself.”

These are just some of the 40+ groups participating in Experience the Sound 2019.

Some of the others include The Astronomical Society of Greenwich, Cos Cob Volunteer Fire CoThe Emily Fedorko Foundation, Greenwich Conservation Advocates, Greenwich Green & Clean, Greenwich Historical Society, Greenwich Land Trust, Greenwich Point Conservancy, Greenwich Crew, Greenwich Community Sailing, Greenwich Community Gardens, Greenwich Tree Conservancy, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Ski & Scuba Connection, The Sportsmen’s Den, Greenwich Harbor Management Commission, V-Sculls Rowing Club of Old Greenwich,

Shellfish Commission

Working through the Department of Health the Shellfish Commission monitors the Town’s shellfish beds, and does water checks at 36 different points every six weeks, plus additional sampling after weather events, or pollution events. Samples are taken to the State Bureau of Aquaculture in Milford for analysis. The on-shore beds are open from mid-October to mid-May, the offshore beds are open year-round.

Microplastics and Long Island Sound

The Greenwich Shellfish Commission has been working with UConn to quantify the micro plastics in Long Island Sound and assess their impacts.

Plastic waste is accumulating rapidly in freshwater and marine environments
throughout the world, and urbanized watersheds, and Long Island Sound is particularly vulnerable.

When exposure to light and physical processes combine, plastics degrade into microplastics that become poisonous “biocides” in their own right and may attract other contaminants such as PCBs, pesticides, and heavy metals.

In phase 1 of their research, Greenwich waters were analyzed for presence if microplastics.

Microplastics were found to be pervasive in Greenwich Harbors (Cos Cob Harbor, Greenwich Cove, Greenwich Harbor, and Byram Harbor) with inorganic (metals) absorbed to a greater extent than were organic (pesticides and PCBs) contaminants.

These contaminants can potentially accumulate in shellfish such as oysters that filter large quantities of water daily.

Phase 2 will be to look at potential presence of microplastics in shellfish. They will break microplastics into different categories, determine sources of microplastic pollution and characterize their fate, including possible uptake by shellfish or deposition into sediments.

Phase 3 is to work with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Greenwich Cove later this year to look at a healthy oyster bed and see how quickly and efficiently oysters remove nitrogen.

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