By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
C.J. Dunton is a year-round surfer who also enjoys walking on Sea Isle City’s beaches – even in the dead of winter.
On Saturday, he and his wife, Anastasia, took their black Labrador retriever, Luna, for a romp on the beach near 85th Street during a frigid afternoon.
Dunton noticed that some of the beaches and dunes suffered erosion from a series of recent storms, while other parts of the shoreline seemingly had little or no damage.
“Here, it does get bad. But I’ve seen it worse,” Dunton, who lives in Ocean View, said of Sea Isle’s beaches near the south end of town.
Sea Isle’s shoreline was widened in the summer of 2020 during a replenishment project that included a total of 760,000 cubic yards of fresh sand being deposited on the midtown beaches from 28th Street to 53rd Street and from 75th Street to 93rd Street in the Townsends Inlet section in the south end.
As is usually the case every winter, some parts of the beach get hammered by coastal storms, but others escape relatively unscathed.
Dunton thinks Sea Isle’s beaches are in pretty good shape overall compared to the normal erosion they usually suffer during winter.
“This year, they are pretty good, in general,” he said.
Mayor Leonard Desiderio said some beaches were able to withstand strong winds and stormy weather this past week, but others had some damage.
“The southern tip in our Townsends Inlet section of our community held up well, while the center of our community and parts north suffered some erosion,” Desiderio said.
He noted that at this time, no emergency work is planned.
“As usual, we will continue to monitor all of our beaches, especially knowing that we are not out of January, and February and March are not upon us yet,” the mayor said.
A walk along the beaches Saturday showed that large stretches of shoreline remain nice and wide, particularly in the midsection of town and the southern tip of the island.
However, there appeared to be erosion to the downtown beaches and dunes starting at 40th Street and heading north along the streets in the 30s.
Storm waves appear to have washed away a good portion of the top layer of powdery sand on the beaches from about 40th Street to a few blocks farther north. Thousands of seashells and even large pieces of driftwood littered the beaches in that area Saturday.
In some spots, it appeared that large amounts of sand were washed up against the dune fencing or the pathways leading to the beach. Some of the fencing along the dunes and the pathways was all but buried by the sand.
Sections of the dunes beginning at 39th Street and heading north also seem to have been eroded. There was also some apparent dune erosion in the south end at 85th Street and a few adjacent blocks.
Dunes play a critical role in protecting the shore towns from storms, serving as the first line of defense against the raging ocean.
Most recently, the Jersey Shore was lashed by a series of unusually high tides and gusty winds from Jan. 15-17.
On Jan. 18, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection assessed 81 sites in the Jersey Shore communities. The agency found that 76 of those sites had minor beach or dune erosion and five had moderate beach or dune erosion resulting from the Jan. 15-17 storm.
Sea Isle was included in the DEP’s beach assessment on Jan. 18. Overall, Sea Isle’s beach and dune damage was classified as “minor.”