- Environmental Sustainability
- Water Quality
- Harbors & Ponds
- Harmful Algal Blooms Monitoring Program
Harmful Algal Blooms Monitoring Program
The monitoring season for HABs has ended and will resume back in June. If water looks green or you are unsure if a HAB is occurring please use caution when recreating in or around the waterbody.
The Town of Nantucket, in collaboration with Nantucket Land Council, Nantucket Conservation Foundation, Nantucket Land Bank, Linda Loring Nature Foundation, UMASS Boston, and Mass Audubon monitors the following ponds for harmful algal blooms (HABs) weekly from June through October: Long, North Head of Long, Miacomet, Sesachacha, Capaum, Gibbs, Hummock, Clark’s Cove (West Hummock Pond), Maxcy, Washing, Tom Nevers, Stump, Almanac, Wigwam, Pout, and UMASS Boston’s Nantucket Field Station (NFS) Ponds.
|As part of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Bathing Beach Testing Program, the Town of Nantucket tests public beaches weekly during the warmer months to ensure bacteria-related water quality requirements are being met. This testing is different from toxic algae as it focuses on bacteria levels, thus sometimes posing an issue with conflicting Town signage. If the Health Department sign indicates water is safe for swimming but the water looks green, please use caution when recreating as potential toxins may be present even when bacterial levels are considered safe for swimming. |
- What are harmful algal blooms (HABs)?
HABs are algal blooms with the potential to harm human health or aquatic ecosystems. In freshwater systems, cyanobacteria (also called blue-green algae) are microorganisms that can produce HABs. Some cyanobacterial HABs, or cyanoHABs, can produce toxins (cyanotoxins) that are harmful to human and aquatic health.
- What causes HABs?
Environmental factors such as the presence of nutrients, warm temperatures, and increased periods of sunlight can encourage the natural increase of cyanobacteria which is why blooms occur more frequently during the summer time. Agricultural (fertilizer) runoff and wastewater effluent are sources of nutrients that have been linked to higher rates of these bacteria.
- What are the potential effects of HABs?
HABs have been associated with human health impacts including skin rashes, gastrointestinal and respiratory disease, and liver damage. Animals, including dogs, can also be impacted by HABs, having more pronounced effects that can potentially be fatal.
- How do I know if a HAB is occurring?
A harmful algal bloom can produce dense mats and may look like green paint or scum on the surface of the water; they can also cause foul odors.
- What to do if you notice a HAB?
HABS might not always be visible but are typically common during warmer months of the year and after rain events.
If you notice a HAB occurring or are not sure, please use caution and do not recreate in the pond. Keep your pets on leashes to control your animal’s contact with potential HABs.
Adopt a Pond Program
Want to help expand our capacity to monitor all waterways on Nantucket? By “Adopting a Pond,” you can help us monitor water conditions by visiting https://www.nantucketbiodiversity.org/pondsurvey and downloading the Nantucket Pond Water Guide. Please contact Thaïs M. Fournier at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on volunteering to monitor our ponds.
The Nantucket HAB monitoring team performs VISUAL HAB inspections for the above mentioned ponds. HAB sampling is only performed by the TON for Hummock, Long, Miacomet, and Sesachacha Ponds.
The duration of a HAB occurrence is dependent on a number of factors, including physical and biological conditions, and therefore is not possible to predict in advance.
As monitoring is performed weekly and at specific locations and times, blooms may occur and disappear throughout the week.
Not all algal blooms that occur in waterbodies are harmful. If you are unsure whether a bloom is harmful or not, please keep away from the pond.
For more information, please visit the Environmental Protection Agency website at https://www.epa.gov/cyanohabs.