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Quick Pond Facts

Pond Surface Area – 64 Acres

There are three main basins:
• Upper – 14.46 acres
• Middle – 26.74 acres
• Lower – 21.80 acres

Length = 1050 meters or 3445 feet

Maximum Width = 400 meters or 1312 ft.

Depths:
• Mean depth - 3 meters or about 9 feet
• Maximum depth - 6.5 meters or about 21 feet (in the lower basin)

The Pond is oriented north to northwest.

Salinity - is managed at 2 - 4 parts per thousand


Facts About Oyster Pond

 

Are There Oysters in Oyster Pond?

No, the salinity levels in Oyster Pond are too low (2 – 4 ppt) to support oysters which need levels between 22 to 32 ppt to survive.  Oysters began disappearing from Oyster Pond in the 1700s.  Before that, there was an abundance of oysters, hence the name Oyster Pond.  Their disappearance prompted the formation of one of the first Town of Falmouth committees in 1767 and again in 1773.  The committees were tasked to find a solution to the problem of the disappearing oysters.  In 1804, town records show that an individual was even hired at Town expense to manage the area for a time.  All was for naught, though, as the oysters continued to vanish, most likely due to falling salinity levels as storms closed off Oyster Pond’s connection to Vineyard Sound.

Oyster Pond is located within the Town of Falmouth at the southwestern end of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  It is separated from Vineyard Sound by a barrier beach on its southern shore.  Oyster Pond is actually comprised of a series of kettle ponds that were flooded by rising sea levels at the end of the last glacial period.  In its geologic past it was likely both a bay and an estuary.  Over the years the number and location of outlets to the Sound have fluctuated depending on the intensity of storms. At one time there were up to three outlets to Vineyard Sound.  This changed when the railroad and Surf Drive were constructed in 1875.  This fixed the outlet from the pond to one location.  Now, Oyster Pond drains into Vineyard Sound via a culvert under Surf Drive into a small, shallow marsh we call the “Lagoon” and then into Trunk River and out to the sound.  Sometimes during extreme weather events, such as hurricanes, water from the sound will wash over into the pond.

The “headwaters” of Oyster Pond and the only surface freshwater source to the pond comes from the aptly named Mosquito Creek.  It drains from a wetland system in Zinn Park.  It empties into the pond via a culvert under Ransom Road. 

A “weir” was installed in 1998 to control the amount of saltwater entering the pond.  It is designed to maintain the salinity levels at between 2 – 4 ppt (parts per thousand).  By comparison, the salinity of Vineyard Sound is 32 ppt.

Aerial view of Oyster Pond, Falmouth, MA

 

Oyster Pond Environmental Trust, Inc.
501(c) 3 non-profit organization
PO Box 496 • Woods Hole, MA 02543-0496