Description - The refuge consists of high quality marine habitats which support a variety of aquatic dependent wildlife including significant numbers of waterfowl. The main habitats at the refuge include shallow bays and salt marshes. The refuge is unique for the National Wildlife Refuge System in that it serves as a marine sanctuary rather than the more traditional based terrestrial system. The refuge's subtidal habitats are abundant with marine invertebrates, shellfish and fish which support a variety of vertebrate wildlife. The only remaining commercial oyster farm in New York State operates on the refuge. Ninety percent of the oysters harvested in New York State come from the refuge's waters.
The marine invertebrate and fish communities support a complex tropic web from waterfowl to piscivorous birds to marine mammals. The principal waterfowl use of the refuge occurs from October through April. Over 20,000 waterfowl have been documented on the refuge during peak use seasons.
Dominant species include greater scaup and black duck - both of which are experiencing nationwide declines. Other common waterfowl using the refuge include bufflehead, oldsquaw, canvasback, and red-breasted merganser. Over 25 species of waterfowl have been documented at the refuge. Numerous other water birds also use the refuge, the most prominent being cormorants, herons and egrets, shorebirds, osprey, gulls and terns, and loons. The most common marine mammals at the refuge are harbor seals, gray seals and harbor porpoises - all of which have become more noticeable during recent years. Sea turtles as well as diamondback terrapins also make use of the refuge's habitats.
Recreation - The refuge's waters and marshes surround Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, home of Theodore Roosevelt - the founder of the National Wildlife Refuge System. Tours of the Historic Site are open year-round, closed major holidays. Visitors enjoy touring the grounds, observing wildlife and viewing bird migrations.
Climate - The Long Island Travel Region experiences average January temperatures above 22 degrees Fahrenheit (above -6 degrees Celsius). Summer temperatures average above 72 degrees Fahrenheit (above 22 degrees Celsius). Precipitation in the region ranges from 40 to more than 44 inches of rain and snowmelt. Typically Long Island has more than 200 days of frost-free growing season.
The Oyster Bay National Wildlife Refuge is located on the north shore of Long Island, 20 miles east of New York City.