More Park Facilities Reopen During May 2013
Watch Hill and Sailors Haven marinas open May 10. Limited ferry service from Sayville to Sailors Haven resumes May 13 and ferries from Patchogue to Watch Hill start on May 18. Remaining park facilities to reopen by May 25, 2013. More »
Fire Island forms an interface between two distinctly different marine environments. The Atlantic Ocean borders the southern exposure of Fire Island and the Great South Bay and other estuarine environments border its northern exposure.
The estuary is one of the most productive habitats on earth, with its phytoplankton, eelgrass beds and salt marshes. In the Great South Bay, that means home for a variety of sea life. Detritus from the marshes is washed into the bay, where it is used as food by many organisms, including mollusks and crustaceans.
The sandy beaches within the intertidal zone support algae, bacteria, and a few species of worms and small crustaceans.
Crustaceans include crabs, shrimp, copepods, isopods, and other invertebrates with a hard exoskeleton.
One economically important shellfish in the waters surrounding Fire Island is the blue crab (Callinectus sapidus). Other crabs include the lady crab (Ovalipes ocellatus), green crab (Carcinus maenas), and spider crab (Libinia emarginata).
Ghost crabs (Ocypode sp.) dig their burrows on the beach, while mole crabs (Emerita talpoida) live in the swash zone along the edge of the ocean. The horseshoe crab is not a crustacean, but in a class of its own, more closely related to spiders.
Other crustaceans include the sand shrimp (Crangon septemspinos), and grass shrimp (Palaemonetes vulgaris).
For More Information
A series of Science Synthesis Papers was published in 2005 to support the preparation of a General Management Plan for Fire Island National Seashore.
Additional recent studies that include inventories of crustaceans near Fire Island include:
Did You Know?
The Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness was named for New York Congressman Otis G. Pike, who served from 1961-79, and co-sponsored the bill to create Fire Island National Seashore in 1964. The Fire Island Wilderness was designated in 1980. More...