A Big Year for Marine Life

A busy day at Main Beach. Matthew Charron

Ed McDonald, East Hampton Village’s ocean beach manager, delivered an upbeat report on the summer season to the village board at its work session last Thursday.

“The summer started as very cold and cloudy,” he said, with ocean temperatures remaining in the 50s well into June. “Suddenly, in early July, the sun came out, it got beautiful, and we had some pretty good crowds.” The crowd at Main Beach on Aug. 9 was the largest he had ever seen, the 32-year veteran of the beach said, likening the scene to Coney Island. 

Proceeds for daily parking permits were higher than those of the previous year, he said, rising from $141,475 to $154,855. A $5 increase in the cost of daily tickets was at least partly responsible, he said. 

Security cameras installed on the Main Beach pavilion this year revealed “a lot of nocturnal activities on the beach,” including “beer parties” and youth climbing on the structure. “But we also caught someone dumping hot coals in one of our garbage cans right up against the building,” he said. “That could have been tragic.” 

The cameras also recorded a theft. “A guy was missing his cellphone,” Mr. McDonald said, “and on one of our cameras we saw a woman look at it, look at it again, look at it again, and stick it in her bathing suit. Because of the watchful eyes of one of our kids, we found her.” 

He praised his “very, very good” staff, including the beach attendants — “the kids that clean the beaches, clean the bathrooms, do all the dirty work on the pavilion” — and the lifeguards. 

Of particular note this year, he said, was the amount of marine life observed. “I’ve been on that beach such a long time,” he said, “and I’ve never seen a year like this. . . . We had whales, for a period of time in August, every day,” including large humpback whales. “We’ve had more dolphins than I’ve ever seen,” along with “other unidentifiable splashes and swirls.”

Large schools of menhaden, he said, attracted other marine life, including sharks. “Everything was feeding on them,” he said. “Ospreys were also out in the ocean feeding on them.