Thursday, December 28, 2006

The mystery deepens

Alright, this is starting to get silly.

Joyce & I took a walk down to the beach again last weekend, and guess what I found on the same stretch of sand where Joyce found the Queen Conch shell earlier?

Yup, a juvenile conch shell. At least, that what it looks like to me. Sitting in the sand amid the flotsam at roughly the high water mark.

For comparison purposes, here's a photo of the li'l fella, next to the first shell that Joyce found.

Look at the previous post here, and tell me how you think these guys got here.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Is there a marine biologist in the house?

Last weekend, Joyce was walking along the beach with her neice. The weather was mild, and they were looking for shells along the Walnut Beach area.

In the sand, at about the half-tide watermark, right near the foot of Naugatuck Ave. they came across this conch shell.

I did a little research via Google, and found that most likely it's a Strombus gigas, commonly called the "queen conch". They're found in the Caribbean, Bahamas, Florida, and Bermuda.

So how did this little fella' end up at the mid-tide mark in Long Island Sound? That's a mighty long walk across the ocean floor to get up here.

I've seen plenty of conches, and if they're used for food they usually have a small slit near the pointy end of the shell to break the vacuum as the animal is pulled out. This shell is completely intact, no holes.

The only thing I can think of is somebody may have tossed out the shell that they purchased somewhere, maybe while on vacation. But why?

Also, there's a new restaurant right around the corner called "The Lazy Lobster". I'll have to see if they serve conch.

Or could it have been sucked into a ballast port of an ocean freighter from a tropical port, only to be discharged when the boat approached New Haven or Bridgeport harbors?

Anyway, this one might have to be considered one of those "mysteries of the seas" that we've all heard about. If you have any ideas about where it came from, please post a comment.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Broadwater study slammed by Experts

From the New Haven Register. We should plan on attending the January 11th hearing in East Haven (info at end of article):

Experts slam feds Sound study
Gregory B. Hladky, Capitol Bureau Chief

-HARTFORD — A new federal study that found no major environmental problems with a proposed $700 million liquefied natural gas project in Long Island Sound drew scathing reviews Thursday from state experts.

Marine biologists and geologists who have studied the Sound for decades called the federal report "sloppy" and "poorly researched," warning that it fails to back up its claims that the massive Broadwater project wouldn’t cause major environmental damage.

"We can’t see how they reached their conclusions," said Peter Auster, an associate professor with the University of Connecticut’s National Undersea Research Center and Department of Marine Sciences.

Auster said the environmental impact study by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission "glosses over a number of issues ... to conclude there would be minimal impacts."

John Hritcko Jr., senior vice president for Broadwater, sharply disagreed with the estimates of the Connecticut project. "We believe (the FERC study) is a thoroughly researched and well-documented report," Hritcko said. He said the study took more than two years to compile.

Spokesmen for the Broadwater project have said the project is critical to providing Long Island and Connecticut with a new source of clean energy.

The project calls for a floating LNG facility the size of the Queen Mary II to be anchored about 9 miles off Long Island and 11 miles off Branford. A 22-mile pipeline would be laid to carry gas to Long Island or Connecticut. Broadwater officials hope to have the facility in operation by 2010.

Since the proposal would put the project in New York waters, Connecticut has been given no formal role in reviewing the plan.

The experts who testified before a Connecticut task force on the Broadwater project said they are concerned about what they see as the inadequacies of the FERC report.

Ralph Lewis, a retired state marine geologist, compared the FERC report to a research paper by "a reasonably bright undergraduate ... who probably went to the library the afternoon before the paper was due."

Lewis said the authors of the FERC study cited out-of-date references, failed to take advantage of the latest geological research on the Sound and discounted seismic activity as a hazard, even though Connecticut has one or two minor quakes every year.

Roman Zajac, professor of biology and environmental science at the University of New Haven, said the report included no detailed statistical analysis of its claims regarding organisms on the floor of the Sound.

"It’s in effect useless ... (for making) any kind of prediction" about how long it would take the marine ecology to recover from installation of the Broadwater facility and a 22-mile-long pipeline," Zajac said.

Lane Stewart, an associate professor in natural resources at the University of Connecticut and chairman of the state’s lobster restoration commission, said he is concerned that the FERC report failed to include any studies of the potential impact the project could have on the Sound’s water temperatures.

Heat discharged from the gas facility and the huge tankers that would bring liquefied natural gas to the plant could raise water temperature, he said. Stewart warned that could have major consequences for lobsters and fish species.

According to Stewart, current warm water temperatures in parts of the Sound already pose a danger to the lobster population.

The FERC report relied on information from a variety of federal and state agencies. Those included data from New York agencies, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Coast Guard, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and the Army Corps of Engineers.

Federal officials concluded that the project is the best and safest alternative for providing a new energy source for the region. Repeated efforts to locate LNG plants in communities along the New England shoreline have met with fierce local resistance.

Connecticut Environmental Protection Commissioner Gina McCarthy said her department "has repeatedly raised serious concerns" about the project but has been ignored by FERC. She said a major danger of the Broadwater project is that it will set a precedent for the industrial use of Long Island Sound.

The co-chairman of the Connecticut task force, state Sen. Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said FERC has set Jan. 23 as a deadline for comment on the environmental impact study.

The task force has scheduled a public hearing on the FERC Broadwater study for 7 p.m. Jan. 11 at East Haven High School.

Gregory B. Hladky can be contacted at or (860) 524-0719.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Windjammers Awards Banquet

It's December, and that means the annual WSC Awards Dinner at Milford Yacht Club.

We did good this year. We won a 3rd place in the Pierce Invitational and received a classy silver and blue plate. Below is the fleece vest I was given for maintaining the WSC Forum, located HERE.

Joyce won 2nd place in the Woman at the Helm series, continuing her outstanding helmswomanship.

The crew of Wild Eyes got a 2nd place in the WSC Last Chance Regatta; crew included myself, and clockwise of top left, J.R., Lisa, Lee, Pete, and Teri. Paul couldn't attend last night. It was a memorable race, with lots of wind and a wild ride downhill from middle ground, where we topped 15 knots a few times while surfing!

John Crissy proudly displays a very appropriate gift; the complete "Dark & Stormy" kit!

We had J.R. and Kate at our table, along with Erich and Nicole, and John & Celeste from Witchcraft.

Fun night!