Living & Eating on Long Island's East End 

 Excursions:  Mecox Cut is Open & Just What is a Seapoose?

My name is Monique.
I'm a 2-time Emmy Award winning TV Producer.
Having been in the business for over 15 years I've produced my share of live tv cooking segments, but never had much time to devote to cooking myself.

Last year when I got married, I moved out of New York City to the east end of Long Island, to ...wait for it...The Hamptons.

Now before you roll your eyes, there's more to the Hamptons than mansions and celebrities.

The Hamptons have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, miles of productive farmland, plus a rich clamming history that continues to this day.

When I moved out east and realized I was surrounded, not just by the bounty of the sea, but also local farms and vineyards, I couldn't wait to explore and sample my new environment.

That's what this blog is about.  Cooking, living, exploring and sharing those experiences.

You'll notice that my blog is a little of this and a little of that, kind of like a potluck meal.

How do you clean out a bay full of fresh water in the middle of the spring?  Simple, just dig it open and release a few million gallons into the ocean.

If you've ever been lucky enough to witness the opening of Mecox Bay in Water Mill, it's a fascinating and calculated project, overseen by the Southampton Town Trustees.  
It's also part of a nearly 400 year old Southampton tradition.

The opening of Mecox Cut or the cutting of the "Seapoose", that's the Shinnecock word for "little river", involves digging a trench into the barrier beach that separates the bay from the ocean. In essence, the process creates a little stream from the bay to the ocean.

That little stream eventually turns into a gushing river as millions of gallons of bay water rushes out into the ocean. When the bay finally equalizes with the ocean then the water reverses itself, rushing millions of gallons of sea water back in, repleneshing the bay.


Markers set up around the bay are monitored by the Trustees to make sure the water stays at a certain level of salinity. Salinity refers to the amount of salt in a specific body of water. The level of salinity in turn affects the health of the sea life that lives in that water.

Before English settlers arrived, the Shinnecock are believed to have dug the Seapoose themselves to maintain the salinity of the bay in order to harvest the shellfish in there, including oysters & soft clams.

Today the Trustees still do it for the same reason, as well as to reduce flooding of shoreline properties that now surround the bay.

According to Southampton Town records, the first recorded cut was made in 1644.  Making the cut back then involved the cooperation of the entire town.  Colonists were all required to stop what they were doing in order to help make the cut. It was backbreaking work back then, all dug by hand as well as with farm animals. Today a backhoe does the job in as little as two hours. 

"Protecting the health of the shellfish in the bay is the main priority", says Southampton Trustee President Eric Shultz. If they did not open Mecox, the bay would eventually overflow on its own, in effect cleansing itself, but at the same time flooding the homes that sit along the shore. So the trustees do it in a controlled manner.

Mecox is monitored by the Trustees on a nearly daily basis, calculating when will be the best time to dig based on a variety of conditions such as time of day, position of the moon, high tide and even wind conditions. Mecox is usually opened every 4 to 6 months.

So now, how do you close a gigantic gash in the earth that has millions of gallons of water gushing through it? Nature usually takes care of that all on it's own. Depending on the tides and weather, the Seapoose can stay open for as little as a day or as long as two weeks. During that period the large amount of fish leaving the bay in turn attracts even larger fish offshore, offering prime fishing opportunities for local surfcasters. Each time is different though. Sometimes the Trustees close the Seapoose themselves with a backhoe to control high tidal flooding. Then when the seapoose closes up, the entire process begins again in another 4 to 6 months.

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