By Mike Busch
Those of you that have followed me from my work with Save The Great South Bay, Great South Bay Images and now Fire Island and Beyond probably know that the Old Inlet Wilderness Breach has been the major reason I got involved with any of this.
Within days of opening many of us realized that this was a gift, a second chance at letting the bay recover while we finally came to terms with how we were letting our way of life disappear on Long Island as our water quality issues snowball due to nitrogen loading.
Over four years we have seen a dramatic improvement in water quality, water clarity, and the response from both sea life in the water and wildlife around the bay has been remarkable.
As a matter of fact, the water clarity this season so far is the best I have ever seen.
I have watched and photographed the inlet from a completely unscientific perspective and always defer to Dr. Charles Flagg of Stony Brook who has been flying over and collecting data since early November 2012, just days after Sandy left her mark.
For a very thorough compilation of data and images of the inlet check out the Great South Bay Project.
Dr. Flagg flew over the inlet on Wednesday shortly after I took the photos below, I look forward to his next update that should be out any day now.
In the meantime and as you will see in the attached video and images, there appears to be a dramatic change in the structure and flow through the inlet that has been nagging at me all year.
There have always been shoals fanned out into the bay since Sandy blasted through the dunes, however the amount of sand on the bay side now is hard to fathom.
Areas that held 3 and 4 feet of water now are nearly dry at low tide.
The East Channel running along the edge of Fire Island that used to range between 15 and 20 feet deep right into the mouth of the inlet now runs right into a nearly exposed shoal. The West side is worse and there is now a dry shoal at times out into the surf zone.
Is this temporary? Is this freshly dredged sand deposited at Smith Point by the Army Corp of Engineers? Only time will tell and I hope I am wrong. I would hate to see the bay give up all the ground gained over the last four years if the Inlet closes.
Images and video below taken 5-10-17 shortly after high tide.
More images and video on Page 2