By Mike Busch 7-31-19
I spent a full day at Old Inlet on Sunday, July 21st to escape the first heatwave of the summer. For anyone not familiar with area, it was created when Hurricane Sandy blew a hole through a small stretch of Fire Island about 1.5 miles west of Smith Point Beach in Suffolk County. The opening of the inlet appears to have grown larger over the last month as the spits on both sides have eroded away. It is more evident on the east side- I would guess it has shrunk about 40% since late May as you can see in the three photos below. I am sure the tide is a factor but it appears the missing sand has just filled in and fanned out across the entire mouth of the inlet.
While most of the Great South Bay has experienced some algae growth (perhaps a mild brown tide) the area around the inlet still looks clear and tropical with excellent visibility on both tides. In my opinion, the tides have been running higher than normal for the last month or so. Even at low tide most of the flood delta – the area inside the bay north of the opening- has been mostly underwater. Below is some GoPro video showing the abundant life and clear conditions below the surface.
While you see quite a few boats enjoying the area, caution is still advised. The current moves very quickly and you can easily get pushed up on the bar and get stuck. There is also a lot of thick sea lettuce and other debris you have to run through to get in or out. A few people have had engine overheating issues when this stuff clogs the intakes.
I look forward to the next official report from Dr. Flagg of Stony Brook for his latest status report including salinity and water temperatures readings, key barometers of how much fresh ocean water is flushing into the bay.
Check out four pages of aerial photos below:
Continues on Pages 2,3,4, and 5