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Welcome to SOFO’s Weekly Newsletter!

Reports John Shemilt, SOFO’s Purple Martin Colony Steward: “our colony is roaring!” Out of 28 nesting gourds available, 24 – 25 are currently occupied with breeding adults. Second year birds have not arrived yet, but are expected any day now, at which point John will add more nesting gourds to accommodate them. Nest building, egg laying and incubation will take place during the next several weeks, so be on lookout for future updates on the progress of this magnificent colony. 

The ocean is also experiencing spring migrators to our area. One very special species to the Museum is the juvenile white shark. SOFO’s Shark Research and Education Team and its collaborators have been studying little white sharks along the south shore of Long Island since 2015. To date, we have tagged and sampled 30 individuals. Our team has gained a great deal of insight due to the collection and analysis of a variety of data, including their migratory patterns in and out of our area as well as local habitat usage. A juvenile white shark like the one below was spotted along our south shore in late April.
The American Bullfrog, the largest and most widespread frog in North America. recently emerged from the mud at the bottom of our ponds! Only males make the characteristic deep booming croaks heard at most freshwater lakes, ponds and marshes, day or night. Their large, circular eardrums are easy to see just behind the eyes.They will eat anything that fits in their mouth: insects, snails, small fish, young birds and other frogs.



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Being at home right now is a great way to become a Citizen Scientist. We are calling on all of our young environmentalists to observe and document nature awakening in your own backyards. You can watch for tree buds popping open to reveal tiny green leaves, for colorful blossoms, for butterflies and bees buzzing. You can look out your window and notice what birds are at the bird feeder and when they start to make their nests. We ask you to send us pictures of your findings with the date you discovered them, and your name and any notes you would like to include. 

We are eager to share your observations with a few relevant facts about your findings in our new weekly SOFO BACKYARD WATCH NEWS, which will be a segment of our WEEKLY ONLINE NEWSLETTER that is emailed every Friday morning to our families and friends.

Please send your photographs and notes to info@sofo.org.  Stay safe and be on the look out for Nature news in your backyard!
Invalid product ID in shortcode Invalid product ID in shortcode Although access to our museum has been suspended until further notice in our ongoing commitment to help ensure public health and safety in observation of the guidelines related to Covid-19, the trails behind the museum, which are accessible from the museum’s parking lot, are open. Please be sure to follow the six feet social distancing mandate, and dress appropriately for tick protection.

Enjoying and staying connected to nature is essential, so we are excited to announce our upcoming schedule of online Zoom programming so you can explore the natural world in the comfort of your homes.

To sign up for these programs, please email us at info@sofo.org, and we will send you a Zoom link to reserve your spots. Please include one or two questions with your email so that our team can answer your inquiries during each meeting.


There is no charge for these programs
Click here for more details

  • TUESDAY, MAY 19 4:00pm
    • Turtle Time with Jackie Avignone

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  • THURSDAY, MAY 28, 4:00pm
    • Camouflage in Nature with Paul King III

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  • WEDNESDAY, JUNE 3, 4:00pm
    • Backyard Birds: Downy Woodpeckers and Friends with Melanie Meade
  • WEDNESDAY, JUNE 10, 4:00pm
    • Who’s Who in the Garden: Identifying Common Insects with Miles Todaro 
  • WEDNESDAY, JUNE 17, 4:00pm
    • Endangered Species: Knowing is Caring with Rachel Speckenbach
  • WEDNESDAY, JUNE 24, 4:00pm
    • Backyard Herpetology: Reptiles and Amphibians of the South Fork with Jackie Avignone
  • WEDNESDAY, JULY 1, 4:00pm
    • Virtual Tour of the East Hampton Nature Trail at Duck Pond With Paul King III


There will be a nominal fee for each of Erik’s classes: $15 for an individual, $20 for two guests, $25 for a family of up to 5 people, and $125 for each school group of up to 25 people. To reserve your spots and to register click here.  For more information, please contact info@sofo.org.


  • June 6, 11:00am – 12:00pm
    “The Greatest Reptile & Amphibian Show” — An Introduction to Reptiles and Amphibians
    Meet amazing reptiles, amphibians, and bugs from around the world! This one hour presentation features Odyss the 5 foot American Alligator and Twinkie the 14 foot python, to name a few.  You will learn the differences between reptiles and amphibians and determine which ones you can find in your own backyard.
  • June 13, 11:00am – 12:00pm
    Turtles, Tortoises, and more Turtles
    Meet Froucho the 50 pound alligator snapping turtle, Dozer the 40 pound African spur thigh tortoise, and explore how these amazing animals have survived in nature for millions of years. You will also learn how to go turtle watching and what you can do to help turtles during #turtleegglayingmonth.
  • June 20, 11:00am – 12:00pm
    Frogs and Toads from Northeast America and from around the World
    Meet amazing frogs of all shapes and sizes that create all sorts of sounds and live in all sorts of places. Learn how to listen and locate frogs and toads in your neighborhood. You will also discover how you can help frogs thrive in harmony with humans.
  • June 27, 11:00am – 12:00pm
    Snakes of the World!
    Snakes are everywhere!  — from the world’s largest Anacondas of South America, to the tiniest snakes of Madagascar, to the garter snakes of North America. You will meet some of these giant snakes, and discover some that may live in your own backyard. Get ready to explore diversity of the slithery sort and the amazing things they do to help nature do its job.

Please join us on July 22 for a very special panel discussion with SOFO’s Shark Research and Education Team. Our shark experts will update participants on the 2020 field season and answer any questions about SOFO’s ongoing efforts to learn about and sustain shark populations along the south shore of Long Island.


Born and raised on Long Island (New York), Chris Paparo has been exploring the wilds of the island for over 30 years. As a wildlife photographer, writer and lecturer, he enjoys bringing public awareness to the diverse wildlife that calls the island home. His passion for coastal ecology, fishing and the outdoors led him to obtain a BS in Marine Science from LIU/Southampton. He currently manages the new Marine Sciences Center at the Southampton campus of Stony Brook University.

There is a nominal fee associated with each of Chris Paparo’s Programs: $15 for an individual, $20 for two guests, $25 for a family of up to 5 people, and $125 for each school group of up to 25 people. To reserve your spot and to register click here. For more information, please contact info@sofo.org.


July 7, 7:00pm

From Plankton to Whales – Why our local waters are worth Protecting
With endless stories and photos of fish kills, harmful algal blooms, oil spills, and beach closures, it is clear that our environment is facing many environmental challenges. Let’s explore ways to protect our marine environment by learning about some of the fascinating marine life that inhabits the waters of Long Island.

July 15, 7:00pm

Long Island’s White Shark Research
Long Island’s coastal waters have an abundance of sharks, all of which we know very little about. In 2015, a small group of researchers were the first to deploy a satellite tag on a juvenile white shark off Long Island’s south shore. Over the subsequent two summers, a partnership with OCEARCH enabled them to tag an additional 20 white sharks off Montauk. In this presentation, learn about the continued work of SOFO’s Shark Research and Education Program, which launched in 2018.

July 29, 7:00pm

Chris Paparo: Fish Guy – Exploring Long Island’s Underwater Worlds
Follow Chris on an underwater exploration of Long Island’s marine habitat. Enjoy amazing photographs and videos of local fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and other assorted invertebrates while learning interesting facts about the creatures you might encounter on a fishing trip or a stroll down the beach. A perfect underwater excursion for anyone who has an appreciation for the mysteries of the ocean.

August 4, 7:00pm

Birding with the Fish Guy
Take a look at the sea’s feathered friends with Chris in this multi-media presentation. Find out what Long Island birds can be observed close to the shore. Learn details about wading birds, waterfowl, and raptors, as well as where one can go to observe each of them.

August 11, 7:00pm
Long Island’s Tropical Drifters
Learn about the many fascinating fish, crabs, and shrimp that ride the Gulf Stream from the Caribbean to Long Island every summer.

We remain very appreciative of your support, and we look forward to welcoming you back to the Museum as soon as we can. Please watch for announcements on our social media pages facebook.com/sofomuseum and instagram.com/sofomuseum, and feel free to email us at info@sofo.org so we can keep connecting as we all continue to explore our natural world and strive to raise environmental awareness by providing the inspiration and tools for all of us to become caring and responsible stewards of our planet.


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