NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

May 22, 2013

Keeping an eye on our shifting sands

It’s often been said of New England weather that if you don’t like it, wait a minute.

The same concept holds true for the shifting sands of our local coastline.

We’ve watched the winter storms pound away at sections of Plum Island, scourging away dozens of feet of dune and causing the destruction of six homes. These dramatic images were broadcast widely, and caught the attention of people throughout the nation.

But as a story published earlier this week in The Daily News related, that half mile of battered coastline tells only a portion of the story. Farther down the island — about 6 miles or so south — an entirely different phenomenon is taking place. Off the southernmost tip of Plum Island the sandbars have grown to gargantuan size. They are perhaps a half mile in rough circumference, a collection of odd-shaped bars, shallow pools, and deep wells. The amount of sand required to create this natural phenomenon is staggering.

About three miles farther south, the scene is even more dramatic.

Essex Bay has become clogged with sand, greatly altering the landscape and seascape. The southernmost tip of Crane Beach, a remote spot that is accessible only by boat or by an arduous trek through the unpeopled sand dunes, is melting away, apparently becoming the source of the sandbar changes that are occurring just offshore. As with the sandbars off the southern end of Plum Island, the quantity of sand that is shifting around is staggering. And it only took a few months for this to happen.

Both Crane Beach and the southern half of Plum Island have reportedly seen significant erosion due to this winter’s storms. Collectively, this is a 9-mile stretch of beach that has not a single house on it.

As bad as the erosion on the northern end of Plum Island was this winter, what is happening at the southern end is far more dramatic. One of the key differences is that both Essex Bay and the southern end of the island are wild places. There are no man-made jetties nor rock groins, nor homes and shorefront roads, no millions of dollars being spent to curb nature. What we see is the true instinct of our sandy coast.

Text Only | Photo Reprints

NDN Video
Grumpy Cat Not Impressed at "Idol" Is Shaquille O'Neal the World's Best Ex-Athlete? Raw: Obama Plays Soccer With Japanese Robot Behind The Tanlines Jersey Strong Part 2 BASE Jumpers Set World Record Screaming 2-year-old gets psyched at Penguins game Pineda: Put pine tar because he didn't want to hit anyone Beyonce on Her Biggest Influence Michael Strahan's First Day on "GMA" Clerk catches on fire after man throws Molotov Cocktail into Brooklyn store Amazon's Deal With HBO Leapfrogs Streaming Rivals Stephen Colbert Tells David Letterman His Plan for 'Late Show' Georgetown police officer filmed tripping students Viral: It's Not Pitbull - It's Amy Poehler! Recycling Highlights for Earth Day Lupita Nyong'o Named People's 'Most Beautiful' Peeps Launched into Outer Space NYPD's Twitter Request For Photos Backfires New HBO Go Commercials Capture Awkward Family TV Watching Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India
Special Features
NRA Waterfront Plans