• Anna Tattelman

Nantucket Sound

I love the beach!  My best naps as a baby were being wrapped up in a towel and breathing the salt air of Popponesset Beach, on Nantucket Sound.  This is still where I spend most of the nice days of summer.  On a clear day you can see as far as Edgartown to the South (Martha’s Vineyard) and as far southeast as Great Island (the southernmost tip of Hyannis).  I also spend a lot of time on Martha’s Vineyard, on the western border of the Sound.

Nantucket Sound is about 25 miles wide and 30 miles long, located on the Atlantic Ocean in Massachusetts and is well known for its beauty and the many diverse species of marine life and birds that it supports.  It is the body of water that separates Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket, which means there are many miles of gorgeous beaches in the area.  It is home to many habitats of marine life and bird species.  I have seen jellyfish, specifically Moon Jellies, snails, crabs, minnows, and other small fish and of course there are many marine species that I have not seen, not to mention gulls, ducks, turns and Osprey.  Nantucket Sound is also home to sea turtles, scoters (a type of bird similar to ducks) and many different types of whales. 

The Nantucket Sound ecosystem must stay protected. Beyond the wildlife that live here, it is central to the Atlantic Flyway, which is one of the largest bird migration routes in the world. The Sound gives many resources to the birds that migrate through here such as food and breeding grounds. The waters of Nantucket Sound are extremely important to several species of seals and porpoises, in particular, the Gray Seal, Harbor Seal, and Harbor Porpoise. These waters are especially vital to Gray Seals because they have a well-documented and growing breeding colony in Nantucket Sound representing the southernmost breeding colony in the world, and the only known breeding colony in the United States.

Sadly, there are 5 species of endangered sea turtles known to Nantucket Sound. Those species include Loggerhead, Leatherback, Kemp’s Ridley, Green, and Hawksbill. Although these turtle breeds arrive from areas thousands of miles away, it is unclear to what extent they use the Sound as a feeding or breeding area.  Several different types of whales, such as Humpback and Minke, pass through Nantucket Sound on their migratory routes. Pilot whales are frequently sighted in the fall, while harbor porpoises migrate through in the spring. In addition, Atlantic White-Sided Dolphin, Striped Dolphin, and common dolphin sightings are also known to occur in this area. Nantucket Sound is a recognized historic habitat for the North Atlantic Right Whale, and sightings of Right Whales in this area have been consistent. A 2010 map of cetacean sightings within Nantucket Sound and surrounding areas, prepared by the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium, shows multiple sightings of right whales in Nantucket Sound. 

Because of its natural beauty and proximity to large metropolitan and urban areas, Nantucket sound is a big draw for tourists especially in the summer.  During this time there is a lot of recreational and fishing boat traffic.  It is very important that a healthy balance be maintained to preserve the vitality and beauty of this amazing place.  I hope that someday you will be able to visit Nantucket Sound.  Over nearly sixteen years, it never gets old! 



This is a photo I took on September 5, 2020 showing one of many of the sights seen from Popponesset Beach on Nantucket Sound. 


Sources:

https://saveoursound.org/nantucket-sound-cape-cod/1811-2/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nantucket_Sound











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