National wildlife refuges offer us all a chance to unplug from the stresses of daily life and reconnect with our natural surroundings Nantucket National Wildlife Refuge located at the tip of Great Point on Nantucket Island, is a remarkable world-renowned spot for nature photography, birding, and surf fishing. Bounded by Nantucket Sound to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the south, Nantucket Island is heavily influenced by maritime processes. The location of the refuge on Great Point creates ever-changing coastlines and habitats through erosion and deposition of sand. The incredible five-mile drive over the sand to the refuge gives visitors an awesome experience to take in Nantucket’s beauty.
Location and Contact Information
The refuge is located at the very tip of the Coskata-Coatue Peninsula, in an area known as Great Point on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service acquired the land for the refuge in 1973 from the U.S. Coast Guard, who still manages the small acre that the Great Point Lighthouse sits upon, in the middle of the refuge.
Within Coskata-Coatue, there lies an extremely diverse assemblage of habitats including barrier beach dunes and intertidal areas and though we focus on Nantucket National Wildlife Refuge, we must incorporate discussion of these lands as well to provide the appropriate landscape context. The refuge is home to many wildlife species such as marine mammals including grey and harbor seals, numerous shorebirds such as piper plovers and American oystercatchers, various seabirds including multiple tern species and gulls, waterfowl, songbirds, and raptors.
What We Do
Wildlife conservation is at the heart of the National Wildlife Refuge System. It drives everything on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lands and waters managed within the Refuge System, from the purposes for which ais established to the recreational activities offered to the resource management tools used. Using conservation best practices, the Refuge System manages Service lands and waters to help ensure the survival of native wildlife species.
The barrier beach habitat at the refuge provides habitat for a vast number of avian species including the groups of seabirds, shorebirds, and waterfowl, as well as raptors and songbirds. Piping plovers (federally listed as threatened) occasionally use the refuge to nest during the breeding season, though in small numbers. Roseate terns federally listed as endangered) use the refuge for staging before and after the breeding season. Numerous fish species occur off the Coskata-Coatue peninsula including but not limited to, bluefish, striped bass, albacore and Spanish mackerel. Marine mammals including both grey and harbor seal are often seen basking in the sun on the beach.
Projects and Research
Most research, projects, and initiatives on the refuges comprising the Eastern Massachusetts National Wildlife Refuge Complex examine management of avian resources, various public uses, rare, threatened, or endangered species and habitats, andcontrol.