Nantucket National Wildlife Refuge is one of eight refuges that comprise the Eastern Massachusetts National Wildlife Refuge Complex. This remarkable refuge located on the very tip of the Coskata-Coatue Peninsula, where the land meets the sea, and the Nantucket sound and Atlantic Ocean merge. The refuge draws many visitors with some of the best saltwater fishing in the northeast as well as excellent wildlife watching and photography.


Visit Us

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

      About Us

      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 a national wildlife refuge national wildlife refuge
      A national wildlife refuge is typically a contiguous area of land and water managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  for the conservation and, where appropriate, restoration of fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.

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      is 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. 

      Our 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.

      Least terns are the smallest member of the gull and tern family. They are approximately 9" in length. Unlike gulls, terns will dive into the water for small fish. The body of least terns is predominately gray and white, with black streaking on the head. Least terns have a forked tail and narrow...

      Identification Tips: Length: 16 inches Large shorebird Bright orange, long, thick bill Head and breast black Dark gray back and wings White belly Large white patch on inner wing White uppertail coverts and dark tail Pink legs Adult: Yellow eye Orange orbital ring Juvenile: Eye dark and orbital...

      FWS Focus

      Size: 18 cm (7.25 in) in length. Color: Breeding season: Pale brown above, lighter below; black band across forehead; bill orange with black tip; legs orange; white rump. Male: Complete or incomplete black band encircles the body at the breast. Female: Paler head band; incomplete breast band....

      FWS Focus

      Our Library

      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, and invasive species invasive species
      An invasive species is any plant or animal that has spread or been introduced into a new area where they are, or could, cause harm to the environment, economy, or human, animal, or plant health. Their unwelcome presence can destroy ecosystems and cost millions of dollars.

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      control.