First day of summer brings first glimpse of tropical marine life to New York waters

by | Jun 22, 2012 | DIY, Fish | 6 comments

Just a brief glimpse of one of the first tropicals of the season, right on schedule.  We ran into this gray triggerfish, Balistes capriscus, under a dock in Shinnecock Bay yesterday. I’m hoping that the mild winter and warm spring will mean a good summer for collecting tropical strays on Long Island this year. For more on this topic, check out Long Island Gold Rush in last month’s Coral magazine.

  • Todd Gardner

    Todd Gardner is a professor of Aquaculture and Marine Biology at Carteret Community College in Morehead City, North Carolina where he oversees a partnership between the college and The Biota Group, a world leader in sustainably cultured marine life. Todd's life and career have been shaped by his passion for ocean life and he has written numerous scientific and popular articles about his research and experiences collecting, keeping, and culturing marine organisms. Todd’s professional background includes work on a National Geographic documentary, commercial aquaculture at C-quest Hatchery in Puerto Rico, and an 11-year term at the Long Island Aquarium where he spent much of his time developing techniques for rearing marine fish larvae. To date he has raised more than 50 species. In 2013 Todd received the prestigious Aquarist of the Year Award from the Marine Aquarium Society of North America (MASNA). In his spare time, Todd dives, photographs marine life, runs marathons, and makes music.


  1. Marcin Smok

    Great news! Did you snorkel while shooting this video? I would like to go there myself, where is it exactly that you can enter the water and snorkel?

  2. Todd Gardner

    Ashleigh and Finn and I were standing in waste-deep water when a school of these triggerfish swam out from under the dock and came right up to us. It was a little bit scary because I know what those teeth are capable of. They just swam around us for a few minutes and went back under the dock. I went back to get my camera, but they had moved on. So I walked around the dock until I spotted one to get this shot. This was a private dock at someone’s house on the north side of the bay. The snorkeling is actually a lot better at the east inlet and at the Ponquogue bridge. I’ve never seen these guys in such shallow water before. Also, technicially these gray triggers are not tropical strays since they migrate in as adults, but they normally show up when all the other exotics do. I also saw a tiny grouper on that dock a few minutes after the trigger sighting.

  3. Marcin Smok

    Thank you for the info. I am looking for good snorkeling in the summer here in NY and heard of Shinnecock Bay but wasn’t sure if I can park my car somewhere nearby. I am also looking forward to participate in this year’s collection trip if you need someone to take pics:)

  4. Todd Gardner

    Marcin, Let me know when you can come out. We’ll take you to our favorite spots.

  5. MinG

    That looks cool, I would like to join too whenever the collection trip is happening!

  6. Todd Gardner

    Keep an eye out for details of the annual LIRA collecting trip on Reef Central. If you want to come out some other time, get in touch with me.


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