Brown tides have occurred off and on since the 1980s, but this year’s bloom will be the sixth in a row, a new record. Photo via Patchogue Patch.

An intense and damaging brown tide has emerged across the Great South Bay a full month earlier than in past years, paralleling last year’s brown tide that lasted until August.

Caused by a species of algae, brown tides are responsible for the demise of the largest bay scallop fishery on the East Coast in the Peconic Estuary, the loss of eelgrass across Long Island, and the challenges of hard clam recovery efforts in Great South Bay.

The main cause of brown tides and other blooms is too much nitrogen, mainly from people, septic systems, and fertilizers.

Source: Patchogue Patch