Photos of the Long Island Sound

About the Sound

History

Pre-colonial

Perhaps as many as 10,000-15,000 Indians live near Long Island Sound, harvesting bountiful fish and game along the shore and in interior forests.*

An Indian village depicted in an early Dutch map of “New Netherland.”

Colonial

In 1614, Dutch explorer Adriaen Block completes his final expedition to the Sound. Block, the first European to sail the entire Sound, opens the Sound to trade. Colonial settlers clear forests for farms and settle in seaside communities for trade, fishing, and whaling. Indian tribal influence dwindles by late 1600s.

*Source: Tom Andersen, This Fine Piece of Water: An Environmental History of Long Island Sound (Yale University Press, 2002)

Industrial

Commerce grows, and the Sound and its tributaries become known for brass and metal finishing, textiles, hatmaking, and oystering. The Sound is prized for its beauty and becomes a source of inspiration for American Impressionist painters. But the Industrial Revolution also brings intense growth and pollution.

Source: Tom Andersen, This Fine Piece of Water: An Environmental History of Long Island Sound (Yale University Press, 2002)

Stamford Manufacturing Company, Cove Island, Stamford.

Stamford Manufacturing Company, Cove Island, Stamford.

1950’s

Manufacturing declines, while postwar housing production leads to a population boom and suburban sprawl. The first comprehensive study of water quality shows evidence of human impact affecting oxygen levels.

1970’s

Low levels of dissolved oxygen contribute to fish kills in the western Sound. Nationally, concerns about the health of America’s waterways lead to the 1972 federal Clean Water Act.

1985

Congress creates the Long Island Sound Study (LISS). Field surveys identify low levels of oxygen, later related to nitrogen pollution, as the greatest environmental threat to the Sound.

Menhaden kill, along the Mianus River, 1988.

Menhaden kill, along the Mianus River, 1988.

1994

LISS adopts the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) to restore and protect the Sound. The cleanup plan includes actions to address hypoxia, reduce toxic substances and pathogens, and restore natural habitats.

1998

CT, NY, and the EPA adopt a plan to reduce human sources of nitrogen pollution to the Sound by 58.5 percent by 2014. Through the Habitat Restoration Initiative, the Study also adopts goals to restore 2,000 acres of habitat and 100 miles of river for fish passage by 2008.

Dune creation project.

Dune creation project, Rye, NY.

2001

EPA approves CT and NY’s “Total Maximum Daily Load” of nitrogen to the Sound, allocating responsibility to meet the 58.5 percent reduction goal.

2003

LISS adopts the 2003 Long Island Sound Agreement, establishing measurable targets to implement the CCMP and to restore the health of the Sound by 2014, the 400th anniversary of Block’s final exploration.

2008

LISS establishes the Sentinel Monitoring Work Group to examine the effect of climate change in different areas of the Sound and its coast. Researchers and resource managers will collect information to help the region understand potential climate change impacts and to learn how to adapt to climate change by adjusting the way Long Island Sound is managed.

Sound Facts

history

Beneath the Sound

Beneath the waters of Long Island Sound are clues to its past. Layers of sediment and rock tell us it was once a freshwater lake…
Learn more about this fact
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