Bruce Museum’s Seaside Center opens for the season

Lovers of Long Island Sound have more to look forward to on their visits to Greenwich Point now that the Bruce Museum’s Seaside Educational Program is open for the summer.

Last Sunday, Experience the Sound, a program sponsored by the town’s Shellfish Commission, brought many organizations to the beach including Audubon, Greenwich Green and Clean, the Perrot Library and the Greenwich Land Trust to show residents the type of ocean life that relies on the Sound.

“We put this whole event together to today to make people aware of what’s here,” Roger Bowgen, chair of the Shellfish Commission, said. “We want to tell people about the fact that there are shellfish and you can eat them.”

 

By the Old Greenwich Yacht Club, the Sound Waters crew welcomed the public onto their schooner for an afternoon tour. The nonprofit runs tours for kids and adults along the coast. Docked next door was Ed Stilwagen’s boat, equipped with a clam-filtering machine to suck shellfish off the ocean floor. The machine, which Mr. Stilwagen built, filters out anything too small to eat.

“Usually the first question asked if people are just consumers is, ‘Can you really eat these clams?’” Jay Louden, a former shell fisherman and a member of the Shellfish Commission said.

Mr. Louden said the commission does periodic water sampling to make sure that the water and shellfish are safe for consumption.

“Water quality in Greenwich is excellent,” he emphasized.

The event answered these questions for some residents, like Laura Popa, who were in disbelief that the Sound had so many edible shellfish. She brought her children, Kira and Alex, to enjoy the event and spent the afternoon touching an array of crabs before collecting clams.

“It’s all from the area so it’s good to know what we have around,” Ms. Popa said.

Though the event lasted an afternoon, it’s hardly the end of the shellfish season. Residents frequently do their own collecting.

“You can walk out here during low tide and get a bag of mussels,” said Mr. Bowgen.

Ms. Popa and her children boarded the schooner where Justin Cathcart, captain of the Sound Waters ship had a touch tank full of spider and horseshoe crabs. His crew participated in the event to run environmental education programs and preserve marine life in the sound.

On the beach Greenwich Green and Clean shared information about its work as well. Mary Hull, who has been the executive director of Greenwich Green and Clean for the past 20 years, answered questions about recycling in Greenwich, and hoped that educational events like this would lead to more volunteers interested in the environmental safety of the town.

The Seaside Center is open all summer with aquariums and microscopes set up for anyone curious about marine life. Peter Linderoth, manager of the Seaside Center, noted that families may drop in to take part in their educational programs covering all things related to Long Island Sound from geology to ecology to arts and crafts projects.

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