Harmful Blue-Green Algae Bloom Closes Georgica Pond

Dr. Christopher Gobler, pictured giving his annual State of the Bays lecture at Stony Brook Southampton in 2016.

Harmful blue-green algae blooms have been spotted in Georgica and Wainscott ponds in East Hampton, and East Hampton Town Trustees warned the public to avoid contact with both bodies of water on Friday morning.

Stony Brook University scientist Chris Gobler recognized potentially toxic algae forms in both bodies of water, a blue-green algae species called cyanobacteria that is toxic to humans and can be fatal to small children and pets. This is the third consecutive summer the town has issued a warning in Georgica Pond.

“It’s just a waiting game at this point, and the cause, is most likely that the nitrogen and phosphates have reached that level where they created the bloom and with the water temperature, the whole cocktail just came together,” said Francis Bock, East Hampton Town Trustee, on Tuesday.

Residents have been cautioned not to swim in the pond, not drink from the pond and keep children and pets away from any visible blooms. If exposure does occur, rinse with clean water immediately. If anyone has experienced symptoms of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, irritation of the skin, eyes or throat or breathing difficulties, seek medical attention and report your symptoms to the Suffolk County Department of Health Services at (631) 852-5760.

Georgica Pond is a popular local crabbing destination and has now been closed to all fishing, shellfishing and crab harvesting. The Stony Brook scientists suggested that the “cut” between the pond and the ocean is opened so that the pond will be flushed with saltwater and the harmful algae killed. Trustees have not heeded this advice because piping plovers have nested where the cut is normally made.