Research Team Studies Deer Island Erosion

It's the latest effort to preserve and protect Deer Island. The Department of Marine Resources has hired a private company to study erosion of the island.

The first step involves taking measurements with some high tech gear.

Waves slowly wash away the south shoreline of Deer Island. Wind and water claim more than an acre of the island each year.

"Different parts of the island erode at different rates. And that's what we're trying to understand is why and how we can help offset that," said Tim Engle, the president of Beach Restoration Incorporated .

Engle's company is using some high tech devices to take specific measurements of the water action surrounding the island. The ADCP or Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler is the primary piece of gear.

"What this instrument does is it uses sound to measure the water speed or measure the currents. And the special thing about it is that it measures currents from the surface all the way up to the sea floor," explained environmental scientist Dr. Kelly Rankin.

Along with recording the speed and frequency of currents, the team has placed markers around the entire island, surveys that will help identify the areas of shoreline hardest hit.

"Getting profiles that go out about 15 hundred feet to get a feel for what the slopes look like. So we can get a better understanding of the dynamics that are creating the erosion," said Engle.

The research team is impressed with the island, understanding what coast residents have long appreciated.

"It's one of the few places you can come out and sit on a natural beach, sit underneath a tree and have your feet in the water. So, yeah, it's a beautiful island," said one researcher.

The erosion control project will help assure that beauty is still around for future generations to enjoy.

The initial assessment phase of the study will be done later this summer. Specific solutions to slow erosion, will follow.

One possible solution is the use of geo-textile tubes. Those are essentially sand-filled tubes that are placed on the sea floor just beyond the shoreline. The tubes create barriers that slow the current and actually allow a build-up of additional sand.