The Great Pond Foundation (GPF) is teaming up with the Woods Hole–based Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) to support the foundation’s ecosystem monitoring program at Chilmark Pond, Edgartown Great Pond, and Tisbury Great Pond.
The scientific partnership will enhance the foundation’s existing programs on Edgartown Great Pond and its collaboration with the Chilmark Pond Foundation, as well as bolster a scientific alliance between GPF and Tisbury Great Pond stakeholders.
The Island’s great ponds are vital ecological resources, especially for shellfishing.
The foundation’s staff will monitor the three Island ponds on a weekly basis from May through October. Programs will include water quality monitoring, cyanobacteria monitoring, pond elevation and opening dynamics, submerged aquatic vegetation monitoring, biodiversity monitoring, and watershed nutrient loading
Founded in 1888, MBL is a scientific institution and pioneer in the study of coastal ecosystems. MBL Ecosystems Center director and senior scientist Dr. Anne Giblin, an expert in nutrient cycling in wetland ecosystems, and research scientist Dr. Javier Lloret, an expert in the interactions between human activities and their impacts on coastal ecosystems, along with their team, will lead efforts to assess nutrient loading in three Island Great Ponds.
“The amount of nitrogen and phosphorus in our watersheds is intimately linked to the health of our Great Ponds and increasing global temperatures necessitate timely climate mitigation,” Emily Reddington, GPF biologist and executive director, said in a press release. She added, “Ultimately, we must reduce the concentration of nutrients in our waters in order to meet [total maximum daily loads], reduce the likelihood of future algal blooms, and ensure Great Pond health.”
An algal bloom is a rapid increase of algae in freshwater and saltwater that comes to dominate an ecosystem. An algal bloom is dangerous because when the large biomass of algae dies, it sinks and blankets the bottom of the pond, where it is then broken down by bacteria. Those bacteria take oxygen out of the pond estuary that other organisms, such as shellfish and eelgrass, need to survive.
In September, a Chilmark man was believed to have come in contact with cyanobacteria in the Chilmark pond, and experienced swelling in his hands and feet, muscle spasms, and headaches.