Experts plot the course to restore Farm Pond in Oak Bluffs

Farm Pond in Oak Bluffs is one of a string of salt ponds that ring Martha’s Vineyard. The 33-acre water body, separated from Nantucket Sound by Sea View Avenue and refreshed through a narrow culvert that flows under the roadway, was once a rich source of shellfish. Lack of water flow and surrounding development, with associated nitrogen loading, have impacted water quality and led to a general degradation of the pond.

At a recent meeting in the office of Oak Bluffs town administrator Robert Whritenour, shellfish constable David Grunden, along with a group of experts in ecological restoration, brought town officials up to date on the campaign to bring Farm Pond back to health.

A brief history

Farm Pond, known to many as the pond where the sea serpent metal sculpture “Vanessa” mysteriously appears every summer, has been in decline for a long time. It’s been closed to shellfishing for 30 years. The eel grass, the pond’s canary in the cole mine, is dying off rapidly, according to a report from the Massachusetts Estuaries Project. The sulfurous smell and the fluorescent green algae become more noticeable each summer.

Longtime locals remember when 40-foot sailboats went through the channel between Farm Pond and Hart Haven harbor, then out to Nantucket Sound. They remember abundant populations of herring, alewife, crabs, and shellfish. They remember when Farm Pond was also called Oyster Pond.

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