Pet Restrictions in Effect March 15 through Labor Day
Dogs/other pets (except for service animals) are not allowed in the wilderness or on any of Fire Island's federally owned oceanfront beaches from March 15 through Labor Day to help protect threatened and endangered beach-nesting shorebirds. More »
Backcountry Camping Permit and Access Procedures
Reservations for required permits must be obtained through www.recreation.gov. Due to the breach at Old Inlet, access to both east and west wilderness camping zones must now be from Watch Hill or points west, and involve a 1½ to 8 mile hike. More »
Attention Watch Hill Ferry Passengers
Due to channel conditions, delay or cancellation of ferry service between Patchogue and Watch Hill may occur. For updated ferry schedule information, please call 631-475-1665.
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).
Did You Know?
Horseshoe crabs come near shore on the full moon in May and June to lay thousands of eggs, which are a valuable food source for migrating shorebirds in spring and early summer. Occasionally, a perfectly-formed horseshoe crab molt can be found on the beach, shed as the young animal grows. More...