Green Pond Prompts Theories Galore

Forget aliens and dye, algae bloom is blamed for sudden color change
East Hampton Town Pond
Early morning visitors on Saturday were startled to see that Town Pond in East Hampton had turned a shade of bright green, seemingly overnight. Matthew Charron

    Pastels may be all the rage in the fashion world, but try telling that to East Hampton’s Town Pond, which passed most of the weekend glowing an otherwordly shade of green, causing untold gawking from the cars that make the turn from Woods Lane onto East Hampton Main Street.
    What started with an early morning call to village police on Saturday led to a leading story on AOL News and The Huffington Post by day’s end, and became the subject of numerous comments on Web sites like
    “Could this be the new alien life form raining down on us from the cosmos?” posted one reader about the overnight color change. “A result of the Oort cloud in space?” Around town there were ruminations that spectral goop could be oozing from the South End Burying Ground in a “Ghostbusters”-like fashion.
    According to Larry Penny, the town’s natural resources director, who took a water sample a week ago, it wasn’t aliens, ghosts, or a prankster with a pocket full of dye that changed the pond’s color. It was plain old pond scum.
    “I think what happened was that the algae came on like gangbusters overnight,” he said yesterday. The beginning of the change was noted on Friday, and by Saturday morning the entire pond was a brilliant green.
    “There must have been a slug of nutrients that got dumped in the water,” probably unintentionally, Mr. Penny said. It may have been a combination of the organic products used by the village on the green surrounding the pond and the epic rainfalls of last week. “It just popped like that,” said Mr. Penny. “And these algal blooms can produce a fantastic shade in a short amount of time.”
    He added that when he checked the water on Tuesday, it was a more subtle pea-soup shade. By yesterday, the pond was once again a drab brownish color.
    “The little blue mallards were loving it,” Mr. Penny said. “They really liked the green. Ducks like that, and black ducks, don’t tend to go underwater much, but the little ones were diving, and staying, underwater.”
    Aphrodite Montalvo, the spokeswoman for the regional office of the State Department of Environmental Conservation, deferred to Mr. Penny and his water samples — the results of which are expected sometime next week — however, she said the D.E.C. was not ruling out completely the possibility of someone pulling a pigmented prank.
    “A fluorescent dye used to determine piping could have been used,” she said. “The dye is used specifically to test water, so it would not be likely to affect wildlife. Algae bloom doesn’t dissipate as fast as dye does,” she added.
    But if it was dye, why aren’t the swans green? “I checked the feathers,” said Larry Cantwell, the East Hampton Village administrator, “and they were not stained at all.”
    Until Mr. Penny has his water results in hand, the vibrant viridescence of Town Pond will most likely remain a point of conjecture among town residents, visitors, and officials alike. At the present rate, the water will clear up before the mystery does.