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Long Island Sound Study Educates at "Under the Sea"
Long Island Sound Study - News
Wenonah Elementary School's Community Night encourages an appreciation of waterways and marine life


Larissa Graham, Long Island Sound Educator, New York Sea Grant, E: ljg85@cornell.edu

Stony Brook, NY, April 18, 2012 - One evening late last month, Aabout 800 students, parents, faculty and members of the Sachem community gathered at Wenonah Elementary School for "Under the Sea."

Serving as this the school's annual Community Night event, "Under the Sea" was the theme around which students conduct research and create related projects, which are displayed and presented throughout the night. As reported on Sachem's Patch.com site, the night was devoted to oceans, a vital resource that - while affected by issues such as pollution, declining fisheries and climate change - provides food, water, commerce, recreation, medicine and even the air we breathe.

Christine DiPaola, Wenonah Elementary School principal, invited a variety of agencies and organizations for an interactive night of learning. Participants included:  Long Island Aquarium, the U.S. Coast Guard, Long Island Maritime Museum, Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research, New York Sea Grant's Long Island Sound Study, Sachem Swim Club, The Intrepid Museum, Environmental Protection Agency, NASA, Nature Conservancy, among others.

"It's an incredible effort that parents put together with teachers, and with students," said DiPaola, of the event. "We can't do it without the collaboration. I also want to thank all the agencies and organizations for their tremendous gift of time. I always feel so in awe to see it come together."

New York Sea Grant's Long Island Sound Study outreach Coordinator Larissa Graham had students make a "promise" to protect the Sound. As stewards, the students colored pictures of some of the more than 170 fish species and 1,200 invertebrate species common to Long Island Sound, including the American lobster, hermit crabs, the colorful scup (porgies) and diamondback terrapins (turtles).

Students who stopped by Graham's booth learned that Long Island Sound is an estuary, which are among the most productive ecosystems in the world, providing feeding, breeding, nesting, and nursery areas for many animals. They are water bodies of constantly changing conditions, such as temperature and salinity. Plants and animals that live in estuaries are able to tolerate these changes; many have special adaptations that help them cope.

Graham's favorite pledge of the night?  "What are you going to do to protect the Sound?," she asked an eager first grader. His response: "Well... (long pause)... you know how dolphins get washed up on the shore? I'm going to promise to take the sick dolphins to the doctor!"

Other students promised that they would pick up litter during a beach cleanup, save water while brushing their teeth, clean up after their dogs, and not litter.

For more on what you can do to make a difference, click over to the "Get Involved" section of the Long Island Sound Study's Web site. News on the Long Island Sound Study can also be found in New York Sea Grant's related archives.

The Long Island Sound Study, conducted under the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Estuary Program, is a cooperative effort between the EPA and the states of Connecticut and New York to restore and protect the Sound and its ecosystems.

New York Sea Grant, which celebrated its 40th anniversary last year, is a statewide network of integrated research, education and extension services promoting coastal vitality, environmental sustainability, and citizen awareness about the State’s marine and Great Lakes resources. NYSG is one of 32 university-based programs under the National Sea Grant College Program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and is a cooperative program of the State University of New York and Cornell University.

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