Cigarette butts. As part of the annual #DontTrashLISound summer campaign, the Long Island Sound Study creates a list of the top 10 litter items collected in both states by volunteers at LIS beaches. Since 2015, cigarette butts have been the top category on the list of trash collected.

Every fall, volunteers from all over the world, including in Long Island Sound, conduct coastal cleanups and report their findings to the Ocean Conservancy as part of the International Coastal Cleanup. The cleanups around Long Island Sound are coordinated by the American Littoral Society in New York and Save the Sound in Connecticut.

The Long Island Sound Study also compiles data on the amount of trash in pounds at these cleanups and the total trash collected/per mile for the Marine Debris Ecosystem Target. There is also a Marine Debris by Category supporting indicator, which includes cigarette butts as a category.

Cigarette and cigarette filter found on the beach at Sandy Point State Park, Maryland. NOAA photo
Cigarette and cigarette filter found on the beach at Sandy Point State Park, Maryland. NOAA photo

What is the most commonly found ocean litter? (

Earth Day was founded 51 years ago today. Thousands of people across the nation came together to demand clean air and water and a healthy environment in a movement that by the end of 1970, led to the creation of the US Environmental Protection Agency and a host of environmental laws. In 1990, Earth Day then became an international celebration when 200 million people across 141 countries spoke up together about global environmental issues. To celebrate the week of the 51st Earth Day, below is a list of environmental events happening around the Sound.

Cedar Beach at Sunset. Mount Sinai, NY. (Image credit: Olivia del Vecchio)

Bronx River Alliance – Earth Week 2021:

Give back to Mother Earth from Monday, April 19 through Saturday, April 24 with DIY and other activities at your favorite Bronx River parks. On Thursday, volunteer to help clean up the Starlight Park from 10am-12pm. Sign up here!

Tune in via social media at noon on Friday for trivia night and learn about Earth Day history, key players in the environmental movement, and some not-so-fun facts about the environment. Click here for the zoom link. Finally, on Saturday, join a family-friendly day full of activities at Starlight Park from 10am to 2pm. Sign up and register here!

Earthplace – 28 Days of Earth Day:

This year, Earthplace will be celebrating Earth Day for 28 days! Learn what environmental, social and corporate governance investing means during a free virtual event on April 22nd. Click this link to sign up!

In the evening on the 22nd, Earthplace will also be hosting a Nature Trivia to test your knowledge. On April 24th, join us at Earth Animal in Westport for a presentation on Birds of Prey from 11am – 2pm. There are 28 days of activities and you can click here to view them all!

Coalition to Save Hempstead Harbor – Scudder’s Pond Cleanup:

The outflow of Scudder’s Pond goes directly to Hempstead Harbor.  Keeping the pond free of plastic and other debris will prevent this trash from entering the harbor, spoiling our beaches, and harming wildlife. On April 24th, between 9am – 11am, Celebrate Earth Day by joining friends and neighbors for our spring pond cleanup! Bring gloves, 3-pronged rakes, a bucket for trash collecting, and wearing boots and long pants are strongly suggested. Meet at the Shore Road entrance of the pond. Parking is available at Tappen Beach. Call 516-801-6792 if you have any questions! 

Mystic Aquarium – Earth Day Celebration:

Celebrate Earth Day learning all about how you can help conserve our planet. Build your very own boat out of recycled materials, provided by Mystic Aquarium, and race down our Marsh Trek stream to see who has the fastest boat! The winner will receive a gift card from Deviant Donuts. The event will take place April 22nd from 11am – 2pm at Mystic Aquarium, CT. Click here for more information.

Also on April 22nd, from 6:30pm – 7:15pm via zoom, join our Director of Education & Conservation for cocktails (or mocktails) and conversations with members of the Aquarium team as we explore the conservation efforts that support the Aquarium’s mission.  Click here to register.

Lastly, on April 24th 12pm – 4pm we are calling all teens to the Bluff Point State Park, Groton, CT!  Join Mystic Aquarium’s teen Youth Conservation Corps volunteers in a day at the beach. Generously funded by the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, this event provides teens the opportunity to learn about the impacts of marine debris and plastics on marine inhabitants and what young adults can do to protect the world’s oceans. Register here!

The Nature Conservancy – Earth Day Events:

On April 22nd at 12pm, join The Nature Conservancy in celebrating the environmental changemakers among us. Co-hosted by CEO Jennifer Morris and Chief Scientist Katharine Hayhoe, this free virtual event will feature innovative, inspiring leaders from across the globe who are making our world a place where people and nature thrive together. You’ll learn something new, gain a little hope for our future and have some fun as we blend Q&As with fun celebrity shout-outs and a musical performance by Singer, Songwriter & Activist Aloe Blacc. Register here to join the celebration!


Jimena Perez-Viscasillas
[email protected]
NY Outreach Coordinator
New York Sea Grant

Alewives in the Peconic River. Photo by: Bryan Young
River herring in the Peconic River. (Photo Credit: Byron Young)

STONY BROOK, NY (February 16, 2021): Years ago, during the cold winter months of February and March, streams and rivers around Long Island Sound would be “painted silver” with the arrival of millions of river herring making their way upstream. River herring are diadromous fish, meaning they spend part of their life cycle in saltwater and part in freshwater. Similar to the salmon’s well-known trek upstream, river herrings journey from the ocean into freshwater bodies to reproduce. However, unlike salmon, river herring are not particularly skilled jumpers. So, as Long Island became more urbanized and dams and culverts were constructed in the area, river herring found their path upstream obstructed. This occurrence, in addition to other factors such as pollution and being caught as bycatch, led populations of this ecologically important fish to decline.

To address this issue, the Long Island Sound Study (LISS) and other local environmental management programs have been working for decades to re-open river miles. They do so by collaborating with local stakeholders and landowners to identify dams and culverts for potential removal or by helping fund the construction of “fish ladders,” structures that allow fish to swim over the dam. As of 2006, this work also includes conducting an annual fish survey to identify new potential streams to re-open and to find out if alewives are returning to the 415 river miles that LISS has re-opened in New York and Connecticut since 1998.

Volunteers participate in the survey and help monitor some of these rivers and streams after receiving basic training. This year, amidst Covid-19 restrictions, LISS and its partners are offering their annual monitoring training sessions virtually. The first webinar, open to volunteers in all regions of Long Island, will take place on February 25th at 5:30 pm as part of Community Science LI, an educational webinar series aimed at highlighting local volunteer monitoring efforts and their links to management and research. Volunteers will learn about the ecological importance of river herring, how to identify these traveling fish, and how monitoring makes a difference in local conservation. Additional training webinars are set to occur by region:

The monitoring program is a partnership between LISS, the Peconic Estuary Partnership, the South Shore Estuary Reserve, and the Seatuck Environmental Association.

For more information on upcoming trainings, message Victoria O’Neill at [email protected] or Jimena Perez-Viscasillas at [email protected].

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