The Sea Scouts, a maritime division of the Boys Scouts of America’s Venturing Program, was founded in 1912. The goals of Sea Scouting are to provide young men and women, aged 14-21, with positive nautical-related experiences that help members mature and prepare them to become responsible adults. The Sea Scouts Ship 908 in North Sea, Southampton was founded on the principle of unconditional giving. Our ship is made up of young men and women from high school and college who are committed to serving others, keeping in mind God, Country and Community. Our focus is developing leadership skills through maritime ventures and community service.
Since our founding in 2011, the Sea Scouts have developed a popular sailing and boating program. We have also volunteered for many community service-learning projects, as well.
Our latest and most ambitious venture addresses the environmental needs of Southampton Town: to restore shellfish stocks in town waters and more specifically, to help improve water quality in currently impaired areas of western Shinnecock Bay. Since early last summer, the Sea Scouts Ship 908 have been raising oysters in North Sea Harbor, in a floating upwell system that feeds the tiny spats a constant stream of nutrients and algae, while protecting them from predators. What started out as a summer in-water oyster hatchery in a floating upweller system (FLUPSY) has turned into a community-driven construction project for a portable shellfish hatchery at Conscience Point, alongside North Sea Harbor.
Within four months, the Sea Scouts have worked with the local community to help in this effort and the response has been tremendous. Dozens of professional builders and tradesmen have donated their time and expertise in the design and build-out, providing equipment as well. Riverhead Building Supply and Watermill Lumber have donated the materials. The tanks and pumps were donated by Strong’s Marine. Architects Mark and Tom Mathews provided the design. Southampton Town waived all fees, as has the DEC. This groundswell of support has made it possible for the Sea Scouts to achieve their goal of creating a portable physical structure for the future hatchery. It is estimated that $75,000 worth of labor and materials has been donated so far.
The next phase of outfitting the hatchery requires a cash outlay for specialized equipment and connecting to the electric grid. The estimated costs for completing this phase are upwards of $18,000. We are seeking cash donations and holding fundraisers to complete this important phase of the hatchery. Once the hatchery is completed and up and running, the Sea Scouts intend to donate the building and all operations to a separate, newly formed non-profit entity, The Conscience Point Shellfish Hatchery, under the direction of Sea Scout and Stony Brook University Marine Science graduate Aaron Quisson. One goal is to support SUNY Stony Brook’s multi-year effort to restore water quality in Shinnecock Bay with millions of shellfish that help filter and cleanse the water.
Along with the hatchery goals of providing millions of shellfish spat to town waters, an accompanying educational program will connect Southampton Town’s maritime and colonial heritage with contemporary science about our bays, aquaculture, and protecting our waters. The educational program combines in-class, interactive teachings of bivalves (clams, oysters and scallops) with a creative project using shells as an art medium, and a lesson on the biology of shellfish and their critical role in filtering our bays. Click here to find out more about this project.