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Have you been down to the bay and looked in the water lately?

In years past, you wouldn't think of swimming in the murky brew we call Manhasset Bay. Pollution and low oxygen levels nixed most of the fishing, too. But recent clean-up campaigns may be yielding results, according to a local environmental official.

"The water quality is the best I've seen it in years," said Jake Eisenman, who's closely involved with the clean-up of Manhasset Bay and its surrounding watersheds. "You can stick your arm in and actually see your hand."

"Other people familiar with the bay and the water quality over the years say the same thing," he said at a Dec. 18 meeting of the Baxter Estates Board of Trustees.

Though Eisenman, Baxter's Commissioner of Environmental Affairs and representative to the Manhasset Bay Protection Committee, warned that there's still plenty of clean-up work to do, a return of shellfish, crustaceans, and a variety of birds are a good sign for the bay.

"There are blue claw crabs and the clams and oysters are returning," he said. "We're seeing all kinds of exotic birds, too - that's an indicator of the general health of the bay."

Eisenman was quick to warn against eating any shellfish from the bay. "This bay has not been approved for shell fishing, yet," he said.

On the downside, one Manhasset Bay regular hasn't returned yet, according to Eisenman.

"The flounder aren't back yet," he said. "That's an indicator there's still a lot of sludge on the bottom. We've still got work to do."


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