On the heels of boating season, the U.S. Coast Guard is warning marines about the progression of heavy shoaling in and around the Little Egg Inlet.
The inlet connects the Atlantic Ocean and the Great Bay, separating Ocean and Atlantic counties.
According to a Coast Guard news release, the agency is will be temporarily discontinuing six navigational aids in the inlet.
“Heavy shoaling in the vicinity of Little Egg Inlet has progressed, making the waterway inaccessible to vessels with a draft greater than three feet,” the release says. “At this point, the aids to navigation no longer accurately mark the waterway and are misleading to mariners, which can potentially be more dangerous than having no aids to navigation.”
Shoals are long, linear areas of deposited sediment and granular materials.
The Coast Guard, which is responsible for providing navigational systems, information, and services that enable safe navigation, says mariners choosing to utilize the inlet are at their own risk.
“Temporarily discontinuing the navigational aids is a necessary action,” said Capt. Benjamin Cooper, the commander of Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay. “The Coast Guard’s primary mission of the safety of life at sea will always come first for us. Mariners know that the presence of navigational aids signifies a passage should be safe. With the extent of shoaling in Little Egg Inlet, we cannot maintain the aids in the area, and therefore we have to temporarily discontinue them for the sake of safety.”
The aids to navigation which will be changed include:
Little Egg Inlet Lighted Buoy 2 (LLNR 1105)
Little Egg Inlet Lighted Buoy 3 (LLNR 1110)
Little Egg Inlet Lighted Buoy 4A (LLNR 1117)
Little Egg Inlet Lighted Buoy 5 (LLNR 1120)
Little Egg Inlet Lighted Buoy 6 (LLNR 1125)
Little Egg Inlet Lighted Buoy 8 (LLNR 1129)
According to the release, Little Egg Inlet Buoy 4 (LLNR 1115) is inaccessible to Coast Guard assets and cannot be removed at this time, and Little Egg Inlet Buoy 4 (LLNR 1115) does not mark safe water.
The state announced late last year upwards of $60 million in federal funds earmarked for the dredging of state channels that remain clogged with silt and sand since Superstorm Sandy struck in Oct. 2012.
Since the storm struck, the state has restored 12 channels and begun dredging work on an additional 15.
Some 200 channels have experienced shoaling to varying degrees since the storm.