Barnstable County

Holiday travelers will find two Cape Cod ponds closed due to toxic algae blooms

CAPE COD, Mass. — There is some troubling news from Cape Cod just as we head into the holiday weekend.

Two freshwater ponds are now closed due to dangerous levels of cyanobacteria.

Environmentalists are concerned this could happen more often if action isn’t taken.

The Cape is home to 890 ponds and lakes. They’re a beautiful natural resource but they’re under a lot of stress now.

Just this week, Mashpee-Wakeby Pond, which is also in Sandwich, and Bearses Pond in Barnstable were closed due to toxic algae blooms.

Cyanobacteria can often cause skin irritations and stomach cramps in adults. The impact on children and dogs can be much worse.

Andrew Gottlieb of the Association to Preserve Cape Cod says climate change is playing a role in the proliferation of these blooms.

“These species are very well acclimated to warmer temperatures. So as climate temperatures have risen, water temperatures have gone up, water is warmer for longer periods of time than in the past.”

Last week, the Boston 25 Weather Team highlighted how other factors, like the Cape’s reliance on septic tanks and the use of fertilizers, are making a bad situation worse. Our reporting also showed a trial program under way which reduces the amount of nitrogen a septic tank releases underground.

The Association to Preserve Cape Cod has created an interactive map which allows a user to check the status of about 150 bodies of water.

Gottlieb says data shows Gull Pond in Wellfleet has warmed by 6 degrees over the past 20 year.

He doesn’t like the trends he’s seeing.

“In the years that we’ve been doing this, what we’ve learned is, there is a wider distribution of cyanobacteria on the Cape that we originally anticipated. It sticks around for a longer part of the season, and it exists at higher concentrations that we would have expected.”

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