On Georgica Pond – The Nature Conservancy Video

From the “Our Island, Our Water, Our Future” short film series with The Nature Conservancy, we bring you a segment that hits home for those of us with 4 legged furry friends. Toxic blue-green algae threatens many bodies of water on Long Island, Georgica Pond being one of them.

Piping Plover Update

 

Many may not be aware that the Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) is the rarest creature living and breeding at Georgica Pond. We’ve all heard about this small shorebird and get annoyed with it for closing the beach, but how many of us really know what they look like and why they are so endangered? Here’s a quick overview of the Piping Plover and the Least Tern (Sterna antillarum) who it often co-habits the beach with.

 

Plover Life History

The Piping Plover is usually loyal to its mate and the sexes share in the rearing of young. They generally return to the same stretch of beach in early to mid-March and by May they lay their eggs on the sand well above the high tide mark or at the edge of the dune grass. Incubation takes 25–31 days. When the chicks are fledged (able to fly—in about 28–35 days) the family flies non-stop to Florida or the Bahamas and other Caribbean Islands for the winter.  While at Georgica Pond they feed on crustaceans, mollusks, worms and insect larvae. They forage along the edge of the water, high tide line and beach.

 

The Piping Plover is very small and well camouflaged. They are hard to see unless they start to scoot along the sand usually alone, sometimes in pairs. They make a pipe organ-like peep sound which can alert you to their presence.  Their Latin name refers to the charming sound they make.

 

This year there are five pairs of plovers nesting at Georgica Pond with five chicks fledged so far. There are also 12 least tern chicks fledged so far.

 

 

Status
Piping Plover

New York Status: ENDANGERED

Federal Status: THREATENED

Approximate Number in New York: about 200 breeding pairs. 

 

Least Tern

New York Status: THREATENED

Federal Status: None (A small mid-western population is considered Endangered)

Approximate Number in New York: about 3,000 breeding pairs.

 

 

Why are these birds so rare?

Because they nest on beaches during peak human beach use, they are in direct conflict with many of our summertime activities.  Due to coastal development, much of their historic range has decreased and their habitat has been degraded.  And while the plover’s camouflage and the least tern’s dive bombing behavior during nesting season do help keep people away, it is not enough against the onslaught of trucks, fireworks, people, dogs and natural predators such as gulls.

 

To help the Piping Plover and Least Tern at Georgica Pond, the Town of East Hampton’s Natural Resource Department fences off the nesting area every spring.  They may also put a fine mesh cage over the nests called a predator exclosure to ward off predators.  It is imperative that the East Hampton Town Trustees open the pond prior to the start of the April 1 nesting season window so that opening of the pond does not interfere with nesting.

 

 

What can you do to help?

Because they are protected by the Federal Endangered Species Act, the Piping Plover nesting period must be protected from other activities. Sometimes this can conflict with the East Hampton Town Trustees traditional opening of the pond. Such is the case this year. If plovers successfully fledge their young on the first nesting attempt, they may often head south as early as late July. But if they re-nest after their first nest has failed due to disturbance or predation, their nesting period is prolonged and access to this part of the beach will remain restricted. Keeping the nesting area protected from disturbance is something everyone around the pond can participate in. Inform you children and guests to stay away from the nesting area.  Beach parties, beach driving and fireworks should all stay far from the fenced and posted nesting areas as should all dogs. Never leave litter or any food on the beach—this attracts predators.

 

Living in harmony with the Piping Plover is possible; it takes thought and care. Thriving plovers are an indication of a healthy ecosystem which is what we want for Georgica Pond.

 

 

All photos: Town of East Hampton

 

Saving Long Island’s Groundwater: Now Is The Time!

Thursday, August 17 / 6-7 pm

A free Tom Twomey series event at the East Hampton library.

with water specialist SARAH MEYLAND

Long Island’s groundwater is a hot topic these days, but do we really understand the how, why and where of it? Our precious drinking water is highly threatened. Learn about the current water quality issues and what can be done to manage this looming environmental challenge with speaker Sarah Meyland, water specialist and NYIT Associate Professor. The lecture will start with a blind water tasting where you can be the judge.

Hosted by Sara Davison. Co-sponsored by Friends of Georgica Pond Foundation

Blue Crab and Fish Populations at Georgica Pond

Meet Dr. Bradley Peterson
 
FOGP is happy to welcome Dr. Bradley Peterson to the Georgica Pond Team.  An Associate Professor at Stony Brook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SOMAS), Dr. Peterson is an expert in plant-animal interactions within seagrass ecosystems along the eastern coast of the U.S. Dr. Peterson’s work on the pond this summer is a crucial element in making a case for future pond openings and dredging. He and his graduate student Steve Heck are conducting a quantitative survey of blue crab and fish populations within the pond to better understand the abundance and species diversity.  Amazingly, a formal inventory of Georgica’s fish and crab populations has never been done.  The abundance and location of overwintering crabs will also be studied.  In addition to sampling, Dr. Peterson and his team will interview local baymen who still work at Georgica Pond in search of crabs, eels and other fish.
 

 
Dr. Peterson started his research this winter while the crabs were hibernating in the mud and will continue sampling for fish, crabs and crab larvae during the summer. His findings will help inform future management decisions regarding dredging and pond opening.

 

Meet the Blue Crab
 

 

One of Georgica Pond’s most celebrated residents the blue crab Callinectes sapidus (which translated from Latin means “beautiful savory swimmer”) has brought joy to generations of East Hampton residents.  Catching them for dinner with either a crab pot, trap or a chicken neck on a piece of string is a local tradition. Blue-green algae blooms have forced the East Hampton Town Trustees to temporarily close the pond to crabbing over the last few years. A ferocious predator, blue crabs feed on almost anything including fish, worms, insects and they are also cannibalistic.  According to the NYSDEC they have one of the strongest set of claws of any crab in the world, so be careful when handling them!
 
The Future
 
FOGP is committed to improving the conditions in the pond for blue crab and with Dr. Peterson’s study, we will learn a lot more about their unique life history and management needs at Georgica Pond.  If you plan on catching crabs this summer please note:
 

  • they must be 5 inches across the carapace to keep
  • no females with eggs may be harvested
  • You must have an East Hampton Town Shellfish permit

 
Dr. Peterson’s research is funded in part by a grant from the East Hampton Village Preservation Society.  We thank them for their support!
 

Plea to Open Georgica Pond to Ocean

Conditions in Georgica Pond are ripe for yet another harmful algal bloom, the East Hampton Town Trustees were told on Monday, and they should consider an emergency opening of the pond to the Atlantic Ocean, which would mitigate the situation. Click to Read More

Friends of Georgica Pond e-Newsletter

Welcome to our newly designed E-Newsletter. The E-Newsletter will be your source for timely and exciting happenings at Georgica Pond. Please also check our website and contact us directly with any questions.

At Work 24 / 7

As many of you know, some of the research being conducted at Georgica Pond is pretty high tech work. Under the leadership of Dr. Christopher Gobler, we’re bringing together the newest technology and brightest minds to address the threats facing the pond.

 

Two devices work 24 / 7 at the pond taking measurements to help us better understand what exactly is happening. We’d like you to meet both of them.

 

 

For many years the United States Geological Survey (USGS) has been using remote technology to measure the height of the pond. Thanks to generous support from two neighbors—Richard Ruben and Kevin Mulvey in cooperation with the Village of East Hampton, we have fourteen years of data on the pond’s water levels. Richard Ruben commented:

 

“Back in late 2008, I noticed on the USGS web site that they had discontinued the real-time data collection on the pond because of budget cuts. Many of my pond neighbors found the data very useful for a variety of reasons, and I had grown accustomed to going on the web and checking the pond levels on a regular basis. I contacted the USGS, and for a number of years Kevin Mulvey and I funded part or all of the cost of continuing the USGS monitoring. We were happy to do it.”

 

The way it works is that a siphon gauge rises and falls with the level of the pond.  The gauge is connected to a recording and transmitting device which is powered by a solar panel. The data is recorded locally, and is also transmitted via satellite to the USGS.

 

The Village of East Hampton and the USGS have just renewed a 3-year agreement to maintain the monitoring device. This project was funded by the USGS, the Village of East Hampton and FOGP.

 

Mr. Ron Busciolano a Supervisory Hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey’s New York Water Science Center in Coram commented:

 

“Continuous monitoring at this station will not only supply the needed information for future studies, but will provide the long-term benchmarks against which future hydrologic changes can be compared.”

 

 

Now in its third year, the bright yellow telemetry buoy is the source of much of the water chemistry data for the pond. The buoy is located in the deepest part of the pond near the mouth of Georgica Cove and is only removed during the winter to protect it from ice. All other times it is collecting readings 24 / 7 on the critical water quality parameters that determine the health of the pond. Those measurements include: temperature, pH, salinity, dissolved oxygen, chlorophyll (a measure of the levels of total microalgae) and blue-green algae levels. Like the pond water level gage, this data is transmitted back to the Gobler Lab by telemetry. Dr. Gobler commented:

 

“This device allows us to resolve trends in water quality on multiple time scales. For example, we have discovered that low oxygen conditions may develop at night, but vanish at day-break, and that algal blooms can pop-up in just a day or two. Standard weekly sampling completely misses these trends. Finally, we can now also begin to compare the day-by-day changes between years.”

 

It’s easy to access the data generated by the water quality buoy and the USGS gage, just go to the FOGP website (www.friendsofgeorgicapond.org) and click on the real-time data button at the center of the homepage screen. You can get a historical overview of water levels or check on the water level in just the last few days, and find out how salty or what the temperature of the pond is. You’ll have to convert from Celsius to Fahrenheit.

Water Body Remediation Invitational Summit

The Chapman Perelman Foundation

Water Body Remediation Invitational Summit

March 9th and 10th – East Hampton NY

 

On March 9th and 10th  2017, the Chapman Perelman Foundation hosted a Water Body Remediation summit in East Hampton, NY. This unique, invitational event convened an interdisciplinary group of worldwide experts to discuss  next-generation, systems-based approaches to water body remediation – including leading researchers and practitioners from the fields of environmental engineering, marine biology, landscape architecture, environmental chemistry, ecological restoration and regenerative design.

 

The summit brought together distinguished experts and guests from a wide array of institutions, including:

 

  • Chesapeake Bay Program Office
  • Biohabitats, Inc.
  • Rubenstein School of Environmental and Natural Resources at the University of Vermont
  • CTO Water Council
  • School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University
  • AECOM
  • Hazen and Sawyer
  • Kartik Chandran Laboratory at Columbia University
  • Rutgers University
  • Sandia Laboratories
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Florida Gulf Coast University
  • Natural Systems International
  • University of North Carolina’s Institute of Marine Sciences
  • Clean Earth Inc.
  • The Gund Institute for Ecological Economies
  • The Town of East Hampton
  • Suffolk County
  • The East Hampton Town Trustees
  • Peconic Land Trust
  • Perfect Earth Project
  • The Center for Clean Water Technology
  • Concerned Citizens of Montauk
  • The Surfrider Foundation
  • The Rauch Foundation
  • DefendH2O
  • Fresh Pond, North Haven, NY
  • Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC)
  • Group for the East End
  • Friends of Georgica Pond Foundation

 

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone kicked off the summit with a welcome and recap of his groundbreaking “Reclaim our Water” campaign.

 

The emerging action plan for remediating Georgica Pond was presented as a case study to ignite a broader discussion on holistic approaches to water body remediation. This fruitful discussion around potential solutions led to the presentation of a number of creative and interesting ideas for considerations, including cluster systems, permeable reactive barriers, wetland creation, algal harvesting and lake restoration, small diameter sewers, dredging, groundwater treatment, upgrading septic systems, buffer enhancement – and more.

 

The goal of this summit was to provide stakeholders with knowledge regarding all relevant interventions for the remediation of, and to use any outcomes from this convening as a model for remediation efforts across the greater Long Island region.

 

For further information visit:  https://you.stonybrook.edu/georgicapond/the-team/

Where the Land Meets the Water

If you are fortunate enough to live next to one of the East End’s stunning ponds, bays, or harbors, you can help improve our water quality by creating a vegetated buffer between your lawn and the water’s edge. This holds true for both freshwater ponds and coastal areas.

Although antiquated septic systems are the largest source of nitrogen entering the groundwater, and ultimately our water bodies, excessive use of fertilizer (N-P-K) on lawns … Read more here.

 

Protecting Our Water Starts In Your Backyard

Toxic, synthetic lawn and landscape chemicals pollute our local waterways, endanger wildlife, and are linked to a range of serious health problems in humans and pets. It is a persistent myth that they are essential to a “perfect” lawn and landscape. In this informative lecture, landscape designer and Perfect Earth Project Founder/President Edwina von Gal will explain why and how to manage your beautiful lawn and garden without synthetic fertilizers and pesticides and what the Perfect Earth Project is doing to make communities everywhere safe and PRFCT (managed without toxic chemicals).

 

Thursday, May 18, 2017  6 pm

 

Edwina von Gal
Hosted by Sara Davison
Co-spons0red by The Friends of Georgica Pond Foundation

 

Read more here.

 

Wainscott

Sara Davison awarded for watershed efforts.

CLICK TO READ

Citizen of the Year

The Friends of Georgica Pond Foundation, Inc. announced today that their Executive Director, Sara Davison received the “Citizen of the Year” award from the Wainscott Citizens Advisory Committee (WCAC).  The award was presented at the regular meeting of the WCAC at the Wainscott Chapel.  Davison was cited for her work on the Wainscott Hamlet Study, the Wainscott Business Moratorium and her efforts to protect Georgica Pond.

Photo Caption from left to right:  WCAC co-chair Barry Frankel, Simon Kinsella, Sara Davison, Rick Del Mastro, East Hampton Town Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez and WCAC co-chair Jose Arandia.

Photo by Bruce Solomon.

WCAC Award 2017

Sea level rise & coastal erosion

newsdaysealevelstory

Sustainable Practices for East End Watersheds: A Free Workshop for Local Homeowners

Learn how you can design and maintain your home and beautiful garden to have a minimal impact on our local ponds, waterways, and bays. Get the latest information on toxin-free landscaping, nitrogen-reducing septic technology, and other steps you can take right now to improve water quality.

CLICK TO READ

Summer 2016 Update at the Creeks

Breakfast Meeting at the Creeks

Many of you were able to attend the informative meeting on August 28 held at the Creeks, home of board member Dr. Anna Chapman and Ronald Perelman. For those of you who were not able to attend, we thought it would be informative to provide a brief synopsis.

Many local elected officials attended including: Suffolk County Legislator, Bridgett Fleming, East Hampton Town Supervisor, Larry Cantwell, East Hampton Village Mayor, Paul Rickenbach, East Hampton Town Trustees, Bill Taylor & Rick Drew.

Also attending were some of our most important NGO partners, the Peconic Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy, Perfect Earth Project and the Surfrider Foundation. Kim Shaw the Director of the East Hampton Town Natural Resource Department and Becky Molinaro, the East Hampton Village Administrator were also present.

CLICK TO READ

Tainted Water

Jack Russell Terriers are not water dogs. “She just happened to go down to the pond,” says Annie Gilchrist Hall, “because we had two of our kids here sailing.” Annie and John Hall’s pet was familiar with Georgica Pond, East Hampton’s serene, 290-acre body of water — a stunning backdrop to some of the most desirable real estate on the planet. The Halls live on the pond.

Click Read More

Group partners with town to clean up East Hampton pond

Click to Read More…

‘Lawn Mower on the Water’ Cuts Through Algae

The Georgica Pond Project

An investigation led by the Gobler Laboratory of Stony Brook University. To read the most up to date information and real-time water quality  please visit Dr. Gobler’s blog here.

June 2016 Newsletter

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Gardening Guidelines for Pond Neighbors
At FOGP, we’re all avid gardeners and there is no better month to experience the joys of your garden than June. But anyone who lives in the watershed of Georgica Pond needs to be mindful that overuse of fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides and irrigation is harmful to the pond.
According to Dr. Gobler’s models between 1-22% of the nitrogen entering the pond is coming from landscaping and farming. The good news is that having a beautiful garden and maintaining the water quality of the pond are not incompatible. Here are some tips to follow:

 

CLICK TO READ

On Georgica Pond

The Friends of Georgica Pond Foundation would like to clarify and respond to concerns that were raised in the article “Trustees Fret About Blue Crabs.” The aquatic weed harvester that is now on Georgica Pond is designed to and will remove floating macroalgae from the surface of the pond. While the harvester will collect some algae growing below the surface, it will not touch the bottom of the pond. Therefore, it is not expected to disturb blue crabs and other marine life. Click to Read more

 

Trustees Fret About Blue Crabs

An aquatic weed harvester that is to begin removing macroalgae from Georgica Pond this month is of concern to the East Hampton Town Trustees, who own and oversee many of the town’s waterways and bottomlands on behalf of the public

Click to Read More

Crowding on Land Is Harming Our Waterways

Although the quality of waterways overseen by the East Hampton Town Trustees is generally excellent, according to a presentation at Town Hall on Monday, the negative effects of housing density and inadequate septic systems are evident.

Click to Read More

Georgica Pond, spring update

As the mild winter has transitioned to a cool spring, and summer approaches, Georgica Pond is springing to life, good and bad.  To recap, in 2015, the ocean inlet or cut remained open for the longest period in recent record, from January through late June, and the water quality remained good through most of that period although the macroalgae or seaweed or had begun to grow and expand across the Pond through June.

CLICK TO READ

Spring 2016 Newsletter

64f86714-10e6-4a27-a5fc-7c11c4c9c66eGet Ready for the SS Georgica!
The big orange boat (aka aquatic weed harvester) is coming to Georgica Pond this spring.

Macroalgae What is it?
Macroalgae is a general term for algae that grow in fresh and salt water. At Georgica Pond the dominant species is a filamentous algae calledCladorphora vagabunda.

CLICK TO READ

Promising Initiatives

Important, too, is renewed interest among officials and a new citizens group in restoring Georgica Pond. Georgica, which once supported a modest, if viable, commercial fishery for white perch and blue-claw crabs, has been the site of repeated closures for bacterial contamination and is perhaps the body of water most in need of immediate attention. Click Read More

Georgica Pond Is in Trouble, Supervisor Says

Georgica Pond will only be brought back to health through new approaches to waste management, landscaping practices, and road runoff. Click to read

Do What Is Needed

You can read our first letter to the East Hampton Star entitled “Do What is Needed” Click to read

Water Quality, Carefully

What is clear is that environmental organizations and truly independent experts must be brought in before big money is committed Click to read

Georgica Pond Residents Fund Research

Algal blooms’ causes and solutions sought Click to read

Long Island Sees a Crisis as It Floats to the Surface

The dead turtles, about 100 of them, started washing ashore near here in late April. Click to Read

The end of blue-green algae in Georgica Pond for 2015

What began as a mild green discoloration in early August and intensified to the largest blue-green algae bloom ever recorded in Georgica Pond by early September has finally come to an end. In between, the bloom was accompanied by no oxygen conditions, fish and eel kills, and discontent among Pond residents.

CLICK TO READ

New news on the blue-green algae

As the summer winds on, the blue-green algae bloom in Georgica Pond has expanded and intensified.   Remember, blue-green algae are of serious concern as they synthesize toxins that can sicken humans and can be lethal to pets and other animals.  Here is the latest information regarding the blue-green algae bloom in Georgica Pond.

CLICK TO READ

Blue-green algae bloom emerges in Georgica Pond; mitigation strategy identified

A dense bloom of blue green algae has developed in Georgica Pond during the past week, marking the second consecutive year of such an event.  The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation has set a threshold level 25 micrograms of blue-green algae per liter of water as the concentration above which a public notice is provided to warn citizens against exposure to blue-green algae some of which can produce toxins that can poison animals, particularly small dogs, that may consume the water.  Levels in Georgica Pond exceeded 100 micrograms of blue-green algae per liter per liter late last week.

CLICK TO READ

Georgica Pond Project presentation

For those of you who missed yesterday’s seminar or would like to review the presentation, it is posted here for your perusal.

Georgica public seminar, 8.1.2015

It was one year ago today…

One year ago, Georgica Pond was closed to bathing and shellfishing, a closure that persisted for more than three months. The reason for this closure: Toxic blue-green algae. Also known as cyanobacteria, these microbes synthesize potent neurotoxins and gastrointestinal toxins that were responsible for dog and other animal deaths on Georgica Pond in recent years.

CLICK TO READ

Blue-green algae emerging across Long Island, even in Wainscott, but not in Georgica Pond

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) keeps careful tabs on blue-green algae (BGA) across the state and the Gobler lab has been designated as its downstate facility for monitoring BGA and thus receives samples from dozens of locations through the year and more than a dozen sites weekly. As a reminder, BGA are a serious concern as they can synthesize toxins that can poison animals or humans.

CLICK TO READ

The shape-shifting, migrating algae

Large, unsightly manifestations of algae have been prevalent across the surface of the Georgica Pond during the past week. The algae seemed to intensify as the temperatures have warmed. This year, there have been reports of algae in Georgica Pond that are green, yellow, brown, at the surface in front of their home one day but gone the next and then reappearing once again. What are these algae and how are they moving? Last year the algae was identified via DNA testing as Cladaphora vagabunda, a globally distributed algae known for its ability to form dense ‘bloom’ in regions over-enriched in nutrients.

CLICK TO READ

Three hopeful signs

As the data continues to come in, there are three observations this week that are hopeful.

CLICK TO READ

Aid from the ocean

Until two weeks ago Georgica Pond was open and exchanging with the Atlantic Ocean bringing in high salinity water.  While this salty water has not deterred the macroalgae that are presently overgrowing parts of Georgica Pond, it may discourage the other, more dangerous type of algae in the Pond, blue-green algae.  Blue-green algae are microscopic, but more dangerous than macroalgae as they synthesize biotoxins that can poison animals including pets and even humans.

CLICK TO READ

The macroalgae

Macroalgae. Seaweeds. The visible overgrowth of fleshy plants in aquatic environments. Macroalgae are an important component of any aquatic ecosystem serving as an important food sources and habitat for many animals. Their overgrowth, however, is problematic.

CLICK TO READ

A year like none other?

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As our research continues, we are beginning to recognize we may be entering some uncharted territory for Georgica Pond, as least in recent memory. Specifically, while the inlet or cut in Georgica Pond has been traditionally opened to the ocean twice annually, in the spring and fall and closing shortly thereafter, this year it has been more or less open all year. Specifically, the Trustees opened the cut in January and it remains open today.

CLICK TO READ

The Georgica Pond Project is in high gear

The Georgica Pond Project is in high gear and in fact has been for five months. With the first indications that The Georgica Pond Project would be a reality, the Gobler Lab commenced its activities to address the major research questions of this project. Some important progress to date is as follows:

CLICK TO READ

On Georgica Pond – The Nature Conservancy Video

From the “Our Island, Our Water, Our Future” short film series with The Nature Conservancy, we bring you a segment that hits home for those of us with 4 legged furry friends. Toxic blue-green algae threatens many bodies of water on Long Island, Georgica Pond being one of them.

Sustainable Practices for East End Watersheds: A Free Workshop for Local Homeowners

Learn how you can design and maintain your home and beautiful garden to have a minimal impact on our local ponds, waterways, and bays. Get the latest information on toxin-free landscaping, nitrogen-reducing septic technology, and other steps you can take right now to improve water quality.

CLICK TO READ

Tainted Water

Jack Russell Terriers are not water dogs. “She just happened to go down to the pond,” says Annie Gilchrist Hall, “because we had two of our kids here sailing.” Annie and John Hall’s pet was familiar with Georgica Pond, East Hampton’s serene, 290-acre body of water — a stunning backdrop to some of the most desirable real estate on the planet. The Halls live on the pond.

Click Read More

Group partners with town to clean up East Hampton pond

Click to Read More…

‘Lawn Mower on the Water’ Cuts Through Algae

On Georgica Pond

The Friends of Georgica Pond Foundation would like to clarify and respond to concerns that were raised in the article “Trustees Fret About Blue Crabs.” The aquatic weed harvester that is now on Georgica Pond is designed to and will remove floating macroalgae from the surface of the pond. While the harvester will collect some algae growing below the surface, it will not touch the bottom of the pond. Therefore, it is not expected to disturb blue crabs and other marine life. Click to Read more

 

Trustees Fret About Blue Crabs

An aquatic weed harvester that is to begin removing macroalgae from Georgica Pond this month is of concern to the East Hampton Town Trustees, who own and oversee many of the town’s waterways and bottomlands on behalf of the public

Click to Read More

Crowding on Land Is Harming Our Waterways

Although the quality of waterways overseen by the East Hampton Town Trustees is generally excellent, according to a presentation at Town Hall on Monday, the negative effects of housing density and inadequate septic systems are evident.

Click to Read More

Promising Initiatives

Important, too, is renewed interest among officials and a new citizens group in restoring Georgica Pond. Georgica, which once supported a modest, if viable, commercial fishery for white perch and blue-claw crabs, has been the site of repeated closures for bacterial contamination and is perhaps the body of water most in need of immediate attention. Click Read More

Georgica Pond Is in Trouble, Supervisor Says

Georgica Pond will only be brought back to health through new approaches to waste management, landscaping practices, and road runoff. Click to read

Do What Is Needed

You can read our first letter to the East Hampton Star entitled “Do What is Needed” Click to read

Water Quality, Carefully

What is clear is that environmental organizations and truly independent experts must be brought in before big money is committed Click to read

Georgica Pond Residents Fund Research

Algal blooms’ causes and solutions sought Click to read

Long Island Sees a Crisis as It Floats to the Surface

The dead turtles, about 100 of them, started washing ashore near here in late April. Click to Read

Piping Plover Update

 

Many may not be aware that the Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) is the rarest creature living and breeding at Georgica Pond. We’ve all heard about this small shorebird and get annoyed with it for closing the beach, but how many of us really know what they look like and why they are so endangered? Here’s a quick overview of the Piping Plover and the Least Tern (Sterna antillarum) who it often co-habits the beach with.

 

Plover Life History

The Piping Plover is usually loyal to its mate and the sexes share in the rearing of young. They generally return to the same stretch of beach in early to mid-March and by May they lay their eggs on the sand well above the high tide mark or at the edge of the dune grass. Incubation takes 25–31 days. When the chicks are fledged (able to fly—in about 28–35 days) the family flies non-stop to Florida or the Bahamas and other Caribbean Islands for the winter.  While at Georgica Pond they feed on crustaceans, mollusks, worms and insect larvae. They forage along the edge of the water, high tide line and beach.

 

The Piping Plover is very small and well camouflaged. They are hard to see unless they start to scoot along the sand usually alone, sometimes in pairs. They make a pipe organ-like peep sound which can alert you to their presence.  Their Latin name refers to the charming sound they make.

 

This year there are five pairs of plovers nesting at Georgica Pond with five chicks fledged so far. There are also 12 least tern chicks fledged so far.

 

 

Status
Piping Plover

New York Status: ENDANGERED

Federal Status: THREATENED

Approximate Number in New York: about 200 breeding pairs. 

 

Least Tern

New York Status: THREATENED

Federal Status: None (A small mid-western population is considered Endangered)

Approximate Number in New York: about 3,000 breeding pairs.

 

 

Why are these birds so rare?

Because they nest on beaches during peak human beach use, they are in direct conflict with many of our summertime activities.  Due to coastal development, much of their historic range has decreased and their habitat has been degraded.  And while the plover’s camouflage and the least tern’s dive bombing behavior during nesting season do help keep people away, it is not enough against the onslaught of trucks, fireworks, people, dogs and natural predators such as gulls.

 

To help the Piping Plover and Least Tern at Georgica Pond, the Town of East Hampton’s Natural Resource Department fences off the nesting area every spring.  They may also put a fine mesh cage over the nests called a predator exclosure to ward off predators.  It is imperative that the East Hampton Town Trustees open the pond prior to the start of the April 1 nesting season window so that opening of the pond does not interfere with nesting.

 

 

What can you do to help?

Because they are protected by the Federal Endangered Species Act, the Piping Plover nesting period must be protected from other activities. Sometimes this can conflict with the East Hampton Town Trustees traditional opening of the pond. Such is the case this year. If plovers successfully fledge their young on the first nesting attempt, they may often head south as early as late July. But if they re-nest after their first nest has failed due to disturbance or predation, their nesting period is prolonged and access to this part of the beach will remain restricted. Keeping the nesting area protected from disturbance is something everyone around the pond can participate in. Inform you children and guests to stay away from the nesting area.  Beach parties, beach driving and fireworks should all stay far from the fenced and posted nesting areas as should all dogs. Never leave litter or any food on the beach—this attracts predators.

 

Living in harmony with the Piping Plover is possible; it takes thought and care. Thriving plovers are an indication of a healthy ecosystem which is what we want for Georgica Pond.

 

 

All photos: Town of East Hampton

 

Blue Crab and Fish Populations at Georgica Pond

Meet Dr. Bradley Peterson
 
FOGP is happy to welcome Dr. Bradley Peterson to the Georgica Pond Team.  An Associate Professor at Stony Brook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SOMAS), Dr. Peterson is an expert in plant-animal interactions within seagrass ecosystems along the eastern coast of the U.S. Dr. Peterson’s work on the pond this summer is a crucial element in making a case for future pond openings and dredging. He and his graduate student Steve Heck are conducting a quantitative survey of blue crab and fish populations within the pond to better understand the abundance and species diversity.  Amazingly, a formal inventory of Georgica’s fish and crab populations has never been done.  The abundance and location of overwintering crabs will also be studied.  In addition to sampling, Dr. Peterson and his team will interview local baymen who still work at Georgica Pond in search of crabs, eels and other fish.
 

 
Dr. Peterson started his research this winter while the crabs were hibernating in the mud and will continue sampling for fish, crabs and crab larvae during the summer. His findings will help inform future management decisions regarding dredging and pond opening.

 

Meet the Blue Crab
 

 

One of Georgica Pond’s most celebrated residents the blue crab Callinectes sapidus (which translated from Latin means “beautiful savory swimmer”) has brought joy to generations of East Hampton residents.  Catching them for dinner with either a crab pot, trap or a chicken neck on a piece of string is a local tradition. Blue-green algae blooms have forced the East Hampton Town Trustees to temporarily close the pond to crabbing over the last few years. A ferocious predator, blue crabs feed on almost anything including fish, worms, insects and they are also cannibalistic.  According to the NYSDEC they have one of the strongest set of claws of any crab in the world, so be careful when handling them!
 
The Future
 
FOGP is committed to improving the conditions in the pond for blue crab and with Dr. Peterson’s study, we will learn a lot more about their unique life history and management needs at Georgica Pond.  If you plan on catching crabs this summer please note:
 

  • they must be 5 inches across the carapace to keep
  • no females with eggs may be harvested
  • You must have an East Hampton Town Shellfish permit

 
Dr. Peterson’s research is funded in part by a grant from the East Hampton Village Preservation Society.  We thank them for their support!
 

Friends of Georgica Pond e-Newsletter

Welcome to our newly designed E-Newsletter. The E-Newsletter will be your source for timely and exciting happenings at Georgica Pond. Please also check our website and contact us directly with any questions.

At Work 24 / 7

As many of you know, some of the research being conducted at Georgica Pond is pretty high tech work. Under the leadership of Dr. Christopher Gobler, we’re bringing together the newest technology and brightest minds to address the threats facing the pond.

 

Two devices work 24 / 7 at the pond taking measurements to help us better understand what exactly is happening. We’d like you to meet both of them.

 

 

For many years the United States Geological Survey (USGS) has been using remote technology to measure the height of the pond. Thanks to generous support from two neighbors—Richard Ruben and Kevin Mulvey in cooperation with the Village of East Hampton, we have fourteen years of data on the pond’s water levels. Richard Ruben commented:

 

“Back in late 2008, I noticed on the USGS web site that they had discontinued the real-time data collection on the pond because of budget cuts. Many of my pond neighbors found the data very useful for a variety of reasons, and I had grown accustomed to going on the web and checking the pond levels on a regular basis. I contacted the USGS, and for a number of years Kevin Mulvey and I funded part or all of the cost of continuing the USGS monitoring. We were happy to do it.”

 

The way it works is that a siphon gauge rises and falls with the level of the pond.  The gauge is connected to a recording and transmitting device which is powered by a solar panel. The data is recorded locally, and is also transmitted via satellite to the USGS.

 

The Village of East Hampton and the USGS have just renewed a 3-year agreement to maintain the monitoring device. This project was funded by the USGS, the Village of East Hampton and FOGP.

 

Mr. Ron Busciolano a Supervisory Hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey’s New York Water Science Center in Coram commented:

 

“Continuous monitoring at this station will not only supply the needed information for future studies, but will provide the long-term benchmarks against which future hydrologic changes can be compared.”

 

 

Now in its third year, the bright yellow telemetry buoy is the source of much of the water chemistry data for the pond. The buoy is located in the deepest part of the pond near the mouth of Georgica Cove and is only removed during the winter to protect it from ice. All other times it is collecting readings 24 / 7 on the critical water quality parameters that determine the health of the pond. Those measurements include: temperature, pH, salinity, dissolved oxygen, chlorophyll (a measure of the levels of total microalgae) and blue-green algae levels. Like the pond water level gage, this data is transmitted back to the Gobler Lab by telemetry. Dr. Gobler commented:

 

“This device allows us to resolve trends in water quality on multiple time scales. For example, we have discovered that low oxygen conditions may develop at night, but vanish at day-break, and that algal blooms can pop-up in just a day or two. Standard weekly sampling completely misses these trends. Finally, we can now also begin to compare the day-by-day changes between years.”

 

It’s easy to access the data generated by the water quality buoy and the USGS gage, just go to the FOGP website (www.friendsofgeorgicapond.org) and click on the real-time data button at the center of the homepage screen. You can get a historical overview of water levels or check on the water level in just the last few days, and find out how salty or what the temperature of the pond is. You’ll have to convert from Celsius to Fahrenheit.

Summer 2016 Update at the Creeks

Breakfast Meeting at the Creeks

Many of you were able to attend the informative meeting on August 28 held at the Creeks, home of board member Dr. Anna Chapman and Ronald Perelman. For those of you who were not able to attend, we thought it would be informative to provide a brief synopsis.

Many local elected officials attended including: Suffolk County Legislator, Bridgett Fleming, East Hampton Town Supervisor, Larry Cantwell, East Hampton Village Mayor, Paul Rickenbach, East Hampton Town Trustees, Bill Taylor & Rick Drew.

Also attending were some of our most important NGO partners, the Peconic Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy, Perfect Earth Project and the Surfrider Foundation. Kim Shaw the Director of the East Hampton Town Natural Resource Department and Becky Molinaro, the East Hampton Village Administrator were also present.

CLICK TO READ

June 2016 Newsletter

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Gardening Guidelines for Pond Neighbors
At FOGP, we’re all avid gardeners and there is no better month to experience the joys of your garden than June. But anyone who lives in the watershed of Georgica Pond needs to be mindful that overuse of fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides and irrigation is harmful to the pond.
According to Dr. Gobler’s models between 1-22% of the nitrogen entering the pond is coming from landscaping and farming. The good news is that having a beautiful garden and maintaining the water quality of the pond are not incompatible. Here are some tips to follow:

 

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Spring 2016 Newsletter

64f86714-10e6-4a27-a5fc-7c11c4c9c66eGet Ready for the SS Georgica!
The big orange boat (aka aquatic weed harvester) is coming to Georgica Pond this spring.

Macroalgae What is it?
Macroalgae is a general term for algae that grow in fresh and salt water. At Georgica Pond the dominant species is a filamentous algae calledCladorphora vagabunda.

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The Georgica Pond Project

An investigation led by the Gobler Laboratory of Stony Brook University. To read the most up to date information and real-time water quality  please visit Dr. Gobler’s blog here.

Georgica Pond, spring update

As the mild winter has transitioned to a cool spring, and summer approaches, Georgica Pond is springing to life, good and bad.  To recap, in 2015, the ocean inlet or cut remained open for the longest period in recent record, from January through late June, and the water quality remained good through most of that period although the macroalgae or seaweed or had begun to grow and expand across the Pond through June.

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The end of blue-green algae in Georgica Pond for 2015

What began as a mild green discoloration in early August and intensified to the largest blue-green algae bloom ever recorded in Georgica Pond by early September has finally come to an end. In between, the bloom was accompanied by no oxygen conditions, fish and eel kills, and discontent among Pond residents.

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New news on the blue-green algae

As the summer winds on, the blue-green algae bloom in Georgica Pond has expanded and intensified.   Remember, blue-green algae are of serious concern as they synthesize toxins that can sicken humans and can be lethal to pets and other animals.  Here is the latest information regarding the blue-green algae bloom in Georgica Pond.

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Blue-green algae bloom emerges in Georgica Pond; mitigation strategy identified

A dense bloom of blue green algae has developed in Georgica Pond during the past week, marking the second consecutive year of such an event.  The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation has set a threshold level 25 micrograms of blue-green algae per liter of water as the concentration above which a public notice is provided to warn citizens against exposure to blue-green algae some of which can produce toxins that can poison animals, particularly small dogs, that may consume the water.  Levels in Georgica Pond exceeded 100 micrograms of blue-green algae per liter per liter late last week.

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Georgica Pond Project presentation

For those of you who missed yesterday’s seminar or would like to review the presentation, it is posted here for your perusal.

Georgica public seminar, 8.1.2015

It was one year ago today…

One year ago, Georgica Pond was closed to bathing and shellfishing, a closure that persisted for more than three months. The reason for this closure: Toxic blue-green algae. Also known as cyanobacteria, these microbes synthesize potent neurotoxins and gastrointestinal toxins that were responsible for dog and other animal deaths on Georgica Pond in recent years.

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Blue-green algae emerging across Long Island, even in Wainscott, but not in Georgica Pond

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) keeps careful tabs on blue-green algae (BGA) across the state and the Gobler lab has been designated as its downstate facility for monitoring BGA and thus receives samples from dozens of locations through the year and more than a dozen sites weekly. As a reminder, BGA are a serious concern as they can synthesize toxins that can poison animals or humans.

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The shape-shifting, migrating algae

Large, unsightly manifestations of algae have been prevalent across the surface of the Georgica Pond during the past week. The algae seemed to intensify as the temperatures have warmed. This year, there have been reports of algae in Georgica Pond that are green, yellow, brown, at the surface in front of their home one day but gone the next and then reappearing once again. What are these algae and how are they moving? Last year the algae was identified via DNA testing as Cladaphora vagabunda, a globally distributed algae known for its ability to form dense ‘bloom’ in regions over-enriched in nutrients.

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Three hopeful signs

As the data continues to come in, there are three observations this week that are hopeful.

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Aid from the ocean

Until two weeks ago Georgica Pond was open and exchanging with the Atlantic Ocean bringing in high salinity water.  While this salty water has not deterred the macroalgae that are presently overgrowing parts of Georgica Pond, it may discourage the other, more dangerous type of algae in the Pond, blue-green algae.  Blue-green algae are microscopic, but more dangerous than macroalgae as they synthesize biotoxins that can poison animals including pets and even humans.

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The macroalgae

Macroalgae. Seaweeds. The visible overgrowth of fleshy plants in aquatic environments. Macroalgae are an important component of any aquatic ecosystem serving as an important food sources and habitat for many animals. Their overgrowth, however, is problematic.

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A year like none other?

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As our research continues, we are beginning to recognize we may be entering some uncharted territory for Georgica Pond, as least in recent memory. Specifically, while the inlet or cut in Georgica Pond has been traditionally opened to the ocean twice annually, in the spring and fall and closing shortly thereafter, this year it has been more or less open all year. Specifically, the Trustees opened the cut in January and it remains open today.

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The Georgica Pond Project is in high gear

The Georgica Pond Project is in high gear and in fact has been for five months. With the first indications that The Georgica Pond Project would be a reality, the Gobler Lab commenced its activities to address the major research questions of this project. Some important progress to date is as follows:

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