Pleasant Bay, the largest estuary on Cape Cod, is protected from the Atlantic Ocean by the Nauset Beach barrier island system. Surrounded by more than 40 miles of coastline, the Bay’s watershed includes the towns of Orleans, Chatham, Harwich and Brewster. All of these towns have grown dramatically in the more than half century since the 1960s, when the Bay was last studied by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries. This highly valued regional resource is designated by the state and recognized by the four surrounding towns as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC). A complex and multi-layered ecosystem, the Bay is at considerable risk from development within its watershed and from human activities within the bay itself.
The Friends of Pleasant Bay includes as one of its missions “To ensure habitat protection and retention of the rich biological diversity and productivity of the bay.” Concerned about the impacts of development on the Bay and alarmed that so much time had passed since a comprehensive assessment of the Bay ecosystem had been conducted, the Friends decided in 2014 to raise the funds needed to carry out such a multi-faceted study.
Unlike in the 1960s, neither the Division of Marine Fisheries nor public funding was available for such an undertaking. Fortunately, however, the intervening years have seen the establishment and growth of the Cape’s Center for Coastal Studies (CCS), founded in 1976 with a mission that includes conducting scientific research on the coastal and marine habitats and resources of the Gulf of Maine and promoting stewardship of coastal and marine ecosystems. Among its team of scientists are marine geologists, fisheries researchers, water quality experts, and seal specialists. Together we designed a comprehensive three year undertaking that acknowledges previous work by sampling many of the same niches in the Bay studied in the 1960s. Completed in the spring of 2018, the research described in the attached documents (Marine Ecosystem Assessment of Pleasant Bay, Cape Cod, Massachusetts Northeastern Naturalist 27: Special Issue 10, 2020.) acknowledges previous work by sampling many of the same niches in the Bay studied in the 1960s, in some cases using similar data collection methods, but expands that frame with the use of much more sophisticated modern methods of both data collection and analysis.
We are pleased to see, with the attached monographs, that the exciting findings from the marine ecosystem assessment of Pleasant Bay are being shared with a wider scientific audience, and look forward to further collaborations with scientists in the near future
In the half century since the completion of the state study, development has brought with it thousands of new septic systems in the Pleasant Bay watershed, all of which leach waste materials into our waters. Road runoff has also increased, as has use of the Bay by fossil fuel powered motor boats. It is imperative that the impacts of these human influences be understood by policy-makers in the surrounding towns, especially as they interact with the natural changes caused by migration of the barrier beach protecting the Bay from the Atlantic Ocean.
P E Hughes* (2020) Marine Ecosystem Assessment of Pleasant Bay, Cape Cod, MA: Conclusions Northeastern Naturalist 27: Special issue 10. 157-158.
P E Hughes* (2020) Introduction to special issue: marine ecosystem assessment of Pleasant Bay, Cape Cod, Massachusetts Northeastern Naturalist 27: Special Issue 10. iii-iv.
DOIM Borrelli*, J C Boothroyd (2020) Calculating rates of shoreline change in a coastal embayment with fringing salt marsh using the “Marshline”, a proxy-based shoreline indicator Northeastern Naturalist 27: Special Issue 10. 132–156.
DOIB J Legare*, O C Nichols*, A Mittermayr*, M Borrelli* (2020) Relationships between species communities as determined by analysis of data from multiple surveys of Pleasant Bay, Cape Cod, MA Northeastern Naturalist 27: Special Issue 10. 114–131.
L Sette*, C M Accardo*, K McKenna, K Patchett, K Rose, Brian W Sharp, Gordon T Waring (2020) The seasonal diet, distribution, and counts of harbor seals (Phoca vitulina vitulina) and gray seals (Halichoerus grypus atlantica) in Pleasant Bay and Chatham Harbor, Cape Cod, Massachusetts Northeastern Naturalist 27: Special Issue 10. 98–113.
C Nichols*, B J Legare*, T Famulare*, E Sgarlat*, T Lucas* (2020) Seasonal occurrence and relative abundance of fishes and macroinvertebrates in Pleasant Bay (Massachusetts) Northeastern Naturalist 27: Special Issue 10. 76–97.
Borrelli*, B A Oakley, J B Hubeny, H Love, T L Smith*, B J Legare*, T Lucas* (2020) The use of multimodal data to augment shallow-water benthic habitat maps for Pleasant Bay, Cape Cod, Massachusetts: stratigraphic data and seafloor maps Northeastern Naturalist 27: Special Issue 10. 48–75.
Mittermayr*, B J Legare*, C G Kennedy, S E Fox, M Borrelli* (2020) Using CMECS to create benthic habitat maps for Pleasant Bay, Cape Cod, Massachusetts Northeastern Naturalist 27: Special Issue 10. 22–47.
Giese*, M Borrelli, *, S T Mague* (2020) Tidal Inlet Evolution and Impacts of Anthropogenic Alteration: An Example from Nauset Beach and Pleasant Bay, Cape Cod, Massachusetts Northeastern Naturalist 27: Special issue 10. 1-21.