Sengekontacket closed, Oak Bluffs beach closed


Heavy rains overnight triggered state regulations that require Sengekontacket Pond be closed to shellfishing on Wednesday morning, July 16. The pond was closed because of rainfall from July 5 to July 14, and reopened Tuesday for only a day, when the weather forced another closure.

The popular salt pond must remain closed until at least July 21. More rain could extend the closure.

Rainfall can increase pollution washing into in Sengekontacket Pond from roadways, parking lots, and beaches, making shellfish unsafe to eat.

Under an agreement with the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF), shellfish wardens are required to close the pond to shellfishing in July when rainfall exceeds 0.2 inches. In August, the standard is more lenient: the pond must be closed when rainfall exceeds one inch. In each case, the pond must remain closed to shellfishing for a minimum of five days.

Also Wednesday, Health Agent Shirley Fauteaux posted signs on Marinelli Beach adjacent to the East Chop Beach Club, advising beachgoers that the water is unsafe for swimming.

A water sample taken Monday slightly exceeded the allowable limit of bacteria in the water. Retesting will be delayed until Thursday or Friday. “We try not to do the test when it rains like it rained today,” Ms. Fauteaux said.

The Massachusetts Bureau of Environmental Health advises that swimming in polluted water can cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain, respiratory symptoms such as sore throat, cough, runny nose, and sneezing, eye and ear symptoms including irritation, earache, and itchiness, dermatological symptoms like skin rash and itching, and flu-like symptoms such as fever and chills.

Most of these symptoms are minor most of the time, but they can occasionally be more serious, especially in sensitive populations such as those with weakened immune systems, children, and the elderly.