New breach opens in Chatham’s barrier beach

The breach in the barrier beach was visible at high tide in this aerial photo.
The breach in the barrier beach was visible at high tide in this aerial photo.Spencer Kennard/Kelsey-Kennard Airviews

A new breach has opened up in Chatham’s barrier beach, and it may be as much as 1,000 feet wide.

The barrier beach stretches in a thin strip off the southeastern coast of Cape Cod. The breach is a natural step in the erosion of the barrier beach, which has been going on for a very long time, Chatham Coastal Resources Director Ted Keon said.

“The area is part of South Beach and is eroding away and disintegrating,” Keon said. “It doesn’t have any direct impact to development or private property at this time.”

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If the breach continues to grow, it could benefit boaters in the area, Keon said. Right now the breach is barely deep enough to be navigated by boats at high tide, and not nearly deep enough to allow boat access at low tide.

The South Beach area saw large breaches in 1987 and 2007, but they later closed up and reconnected the strip of land, Keon said.

The breach presents some danger to shellfish in the area, which are not used to to the cold ocean currents now sweeping past the barrier, Keon said.

Many in the area are keeping a close eye on the breach, but Keon said there is no telling how long it will last or whether it will grow.