"It's possible that warmer water or low dissolved oxygen in the water weakened the scallop to a degree that made it more susceptible to infection of the scallop parasite," said Bassem Allam, of the Marine Animal Disease Laboratory at Stony Brook.
The team at the Marine Animal Disease Laboratory has spent over 200 hours testing 32 samples of scallops from the Peconic Bay. The impact of this latest die-off was felt immediately after opening day back in November and continues to hurt the economy.
More than 90% of the sweet, savory delicacies died this season, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation. Officials said the parasite infects the kidneys of adult and juvenile shellfish.
"Opened up the scallop, we looked at just the tissues as they are just to see if there are any strange things going on, then we dissected out specific pieces of tissues and we preserve them," said Sabrina Geraci-Yee, a lab support specialist.
It's unclear how the parasite turned up in the bay scallops, according to DEC. While officials do know the parasite is not harmful to humans, there are still many unanswered questions including whether a die-off will happen again.
The Marine Animal Disease Lab plans on continuing to work with the Department of Environmental Conservation and Cornell Cooperative Extension to analyze additional samples in the coming weeks to see if the parasite is continuing to spread.