Bring On The Tides

It was, all in all, a humid and warm summer on Cape Cod, great for tourism and beach lovers but bad for algae bloom in many of our bays.

In the summer on the Cape, the nitrate levels in ponds and ocean rises considerably due to several factors: the rise in weather temperatures, animal excrements ( as from seals )combining with the substantial increase of our population resulting in more use of septic systems -- which leads to what is called "nitrogen overload" in our ponds and sea.

As of late, there has been disparity in the actual count of the nitrogen levels in certain areas of the Cape, due to the issue of the Cape Cod Commission's involvement with monitoring fertilizer use on the Cape. Some are insisting that nitrogen levels are not at a critical level while others are insisting that they are.

Because the soil on the Cape is sandy and porous, it is inevitable that at least some of what goes into both the septic systems and our ground ends up in our ocean and ponds.

Although the sewering plan is in the works for the Cape, the ramifications of the nitrogen overload have already been noted in the apparent decline of the eel grass in many of our inlets and, subsequently, the "choking" of the oxygen which supplies life to shellfish and some plant life.

As someone who has frequented Nantucket Sound for years, I have been surprised at the noticeable alteration of the amounts of crabs, shellfish and scallops within the Sound this summer, combined with ample amounts of seaweed and algae bloom. 

The water temperatures within the Sound have been warm this summer, warm enough to encourage the proliferation of the algae which, combined with septic runoff, beach populations and animal excrements, served to alter the overall condition of the bay.

All of this inevitably affects the fishing industry and, in time, tourism as well.

With our summer population now increasing by four million people in the summer, is it any wonder?

While the sparkling blue ocean may appear pristine, there have been enough definitive changes over recent years to warrant attention.

Until the sewering project occurs, we must look to the tides for assistance on relieving our bays and inlets with the nitrates which disrupt them.  A forceful high tide will flush out some of the nitrogen deposits and serve as "cleaning" out areas which have been overtaken by algae growth.

Autumn is the season of the high tides and with the summer population now diminished and the push of the tides, maybe we will see some relief -- and, hopefully, a return to the shorelines of scallop and crab shells again.

And to any skeptics who deem truth as environmental extremism, get your heads out of the sand.

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