Ninigret Salt Pond

Physical Characteristics

If the salt pond is cut off from the ocean, why hasn't its water become stagnant and stale?

Coastal lagoons (salt ponds) aren't always cut off from the ocean. During severe storms, especially hurricanes, waves wash over the dunes of the barrier beach into the lagoon.

The waves erode sand from the beach and dunes so that a channel is cut through to the lagoon. The barrier beach has been breached by the storm and the channel is called a breachway. Seawater from the ocean can then flow into the lagoon through this breachway. If storms haven't conveniently opened a channel to the lagoon, humans have found it advantageous to create an opening by dredging out a channel. Today, all but two salt ponds in Rhode Island have permanent breachways.

Even without breachways, the water in the ponds wouldn't become stale or stagnant because fresh water enters the salt ponds from rainfall and runoff from the land. Without the breachways to the sea, the water in the ponds would become brackish as more and more freshwater was added to the saltwater.