Metro

New breach opens in Chatham beach

An aerial view shows the breach in a thin strip of barrier beach off southeastern Cape Cod. Chatham is in the background.
Spencer Kennard/Kelsey-Kennard Airviews
An aerial view shows the breach in a thin strip of barrier beach off southeastern Cape Cod. Chatham is in the background.

Last weekend’s storm ripped open a breach in Chatham’s barrier beach that may be as much as 1,000 feet wide, a town official said.

The barrier beach stretches in a thin strip off the southeastern coast of Cape Cod. The breach is the latest natural erosion to hit Chatham’s South Beach, said the town’s director of coastal resources, Ted Keon.

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

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The breach presents some danger to shellfish in the area, which are not accustomed to the colder ocean currents now sweeping past the barrier, Keon said. Local fisherman raise scallop seed in areas around the breach, and Keon said they probably will not survive.

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.

For a breach to grow, it usually requires tides flowing both ways through the opening, ­Keon said. But the South Beach breach only seems to have ­water flowing from the ocean into the sheltered water near shore.

“This is part of the predicted deterioration of the beach,” said Keon. “The sand will eventually move west.

Todd Feathers can be reached
at todd.feathers@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ToddFeathers.