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MassBays Science Walk 2021

Take a Science Walk! A unique opportunity to learn about some of MassBays' work in our estuaries.

MassBays worked with partners in Spring 2021 to produce an outdoor Science Walk, where visitors to the Bays can learn about the research, restoration, and monitoring activities underway with MassBays' support.

During 2021, the Science Walk was on display at Martin's Park, near the Boston Children's Museum, Boston, at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, Brewster,  Rock Harbor, along Bay View Drive, Orleans, and at the Ipswich Mills Dam, Ipswich. 

The Science Walk will be resumed in Spring 2022, starting in Swampscott (details to be provided). In the meantime, the posters may be viewed below. Links are also listed below.


Table of Contents

Welcome to MassBays' Science Walk

Poster includes a map of the U.S. indicating 28 National Estuary Programs; indicates that MassBays is funded by EPA and hosted by Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management.

MassBays National Estuary Program is one of 28 "estuaries of national significance" established under the Clean Water Act. MassBays is dedicated to protecting, restoring, and enhancing coastal habitats, and provides technical support to communities to address issues threatening the health of estuarine ecosystems. 

To learn more about MassBays click here.

Intro Science Walk .

Protecting Boston's Remaining Salt Marsh: Belle Isle Marsh Reservation

Poster includes photos and information about the Salt Marsh Sparrow, a species threatened by sea level rise. The poster presents information about efforts to collect data information that will help support the long-term health of the marsh.

Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) has partnered with Friends of Belle Isle and others to conduct a comprehensive inventory of environmental resources in Belle Isle Marsh. This is the first step towards protecting remaining salt marsh in Boston and safeguarding people and wildlife from the impacts of climate change.

To learn more about MyRWA' s important work in these communities click here.

MyRWA Science Walk poster

Examining Environmental Conditions in Salem Sound.

This poster describes the resources and stressors in Salem Sound, and describes work underway to document them.

Salem Sound is an urban estuary surrounded by six thriving communities. In 2019 and 2020, and using innovative techniques to gather continuous data, scientists monitored key sites around the Sound to better understand changing conditions over time and identify causes of pollution. A report of initial findings is forthcoming.

To learn more about data gathering techniques click here.

Salem Sound Science Walk poster.

Addressing Bacterial Pollution in the Merrimack River.

The poster displays a diagram describing combine sewer overflows, and the uses of the river: a source of drinking water, a place for recreation, and a home for wildlife.

The Merrimack River is the largest source of freshwater to Massachusetts' bays. The river also carries pollution to the sea. Merrimack River Watershed Council (MRWC) is working with partners across two states to identify pollution hotspots, especially related to combined sewers, and to improve conditions to keep the water safe for drinking and recreation.

Learn more about MRWC's important and exciting work  by clicking here.

MRWC Science Walk poster

More Oysters for Massachusetts: The Mass Oyster Project

The poster includes photos of upwellers and oyster beds.

Once one of the most abundant creatures in Massachusetts coastal waters, oysters have declined over the years. The Massachusetts Oyster Project (MOP)'s goal is to bring back the native oyster to Massachusetts. With funding from MassBays, MOP has built upwellers in Gloucester and Marblehead and has successfully grown and released oysters in the North shore. 

Learn more about this project and how you can help by visiting the MOP website.

MOP Science Walk poster


Restoring Horseshoe Crab Populations in Massachusetts.

Poster shows data of horseshoe crabs counted in Massachusetts by volunteers for the past several years.

After decades of decline, several management and policy actions resulted in successful restoration of horseshoe crab populations in Massachusetts. Every spring, thousands of these fascinating creatures return to our shores to spawn. These events are documented by a dedicated group of scientists and volunteers from North & South Rivers Association (NSRWA).

Learn more about NSRWA's work by visiting their website - see how you can make a difference.

NSRWA Science Walk poster.


Tracking Marine Invasive Species in New England.

Poster shows some example of invasive species and results of the 2018 assessment.

Invasive species are introduced by human activities and are a threat to the environment, the economy and public health. Every few years CZM leads scientists and volunteers in a rapid assessment of coastal waters in New England to document new species which don't belong before they can do harm. Findings of the 2018 survey are described in a report.

To learn more and participate in MIMIC click here. And always keep an eye out for anything that matches these descriptions!

CZM Science Walk

The Importance of River Herring to Ecosystems.

Poster shows information on tagging and counting herring.

River herring are a vital part of the food chain and each year we wait expectantly for their return to spawn in our rivers. After years of decline, management actions are resulting in increasing numbers in our rivers. Each year many volunteers take part counting herring. MIT Sea Grant scientists are developing techniques to facilitate  counting and tracking of herring to improve restoration efforts. 

Learn more about this research here.

MIT Sea Grant Science Walk poster.

Removing Barriers to Flow Can Improve Salt Marsh Health.

Poster describe salt marsh barriers and how these are documented and assessed.

Dams, roads, bridges, culverts - these structures act as barriers to the flow of water vital to salt marsh health and sustainability. Many structures have grown old. Ipswich River Watershed Association (IRWA) prioritized >1000 barriers for ecological impact and infrastructure condition, and will promote action to improve and possibly remove barriers. Restoring habitat continuity and wildlife movement will increase resilience. The assessment is available here.

IRWA Science Walk poster.

Coastal Development Threatens Salt Marsh Habitat.

Poster talks about threats of coastal infrastructure to salt marsh habitat.

The Massachusetts coastal zone offers many recreational opportunities including boating and fishing. However  infrastructure such as docks and piers are impacting vulnerable habitats including salt marsh. Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) scientists are studying optimum dock height and orientation to minimize shading impacts on salt marsh vegetation growth. This informs the permitting process.

Read more here about this work.

DMF Science Walk poster.


Using Innovative and Traditional Methods to Restore the Great Marsh.

Poster describes traditional and new methods of salt marsh restoration.

The Great Marsh is the largest in New England and is home to a vast number of species in Massachusetts. It supports entire ecosystems, as well as many recreational and economic uses which in turn threaten its integrity. Scientists are working tirelessly using new and traditional methods to conserve this invaluable salt marsh and strive to regain what has been lost.

Read more about the Great Marsh Partnership's efforts here.

MVPC Science Walk poster

Are Acidic Waters Impacting Our Shellfish?

Poster describes the program in Cape Cod Bay to monitor acidification and help aquaculture.

Coastal acidification, caused by pollutants, can affect  growth and survival of many organisms. Acidity destroys calcium carbonate used by shellfish to build their shells so oysters and other shellfish cannot survive. This affects the ecosystem as well as fishing and aquaculture. Center for Coastal Studies monitors acidity conditions in embayments around Cape Cod. 

Watch this fun video to learn about coastal acidification.

CCS Science Walk poster

Taking Action to Mitigate Coastal Acidification in Massachusetts.

Poster describes the recommendations of the special commission to support monitoring for acidification.

Shellfish aquaculture is a lucrative industry in Massachusetts, employing 7000 people. A legislative commission examined our preparedness to address coastal acidification and made recommendations  to expand monitoring. With EPA funding, MassBays and UMass Boston developed a system to measure acidity 24/7 in Duxbury, a hotspot for oyster aquaculture, starting this fall. Results will inform how to address the issue.

Commission Report available.

MassBays UMB Science Walk poster.

Restoring Eelgrass in Boston Harbor.

Poster describes some of the work of the Division of Marine Fisheries to restore eelgrass in Boston  Harbor.

Eelgrass is a vital habitat that supports many marine organisms, sustains the livelihood of coastal communities, and protects coasts from storms and erosion. However human activities and climate change are causing severe eelgrass loss. Since 2005 Division of Marine Fisheries scientists worked tirelessly to successfully restore 15 acres of eelgrass in Boston Harbor. 

Learn more about these efforts in this video.

DMF Evans Science Walk poster.

Information Collected by Citizen Scientists is Important!

Poster describes new tools to help citizen scientists contribute information to help inform resource management.

Citizen scientists are the backbone of many data collection efforts. Many tools are being developed to make data collection easier and fun. iNaturalist is an example and includes a component on wrack, often considered a nuisance on beaches, but in reality a treasure trove for marine organisms.

Download the app (free on your phone) and start contributing your observations, and next time you see wrack, stop, look, and snap a picture!

MassBays Carr Science Walk poster

Different Embayments Need Different Management Techniques.

Poster describes how embayments with different characteristics need different management styles.

Embayments in MassBays vary in terms of their setting (urban vs. rural) and what they look like - from shallow, sandy bays to deeper natural harbors to cobble beaches backed by salt marsh. They have different issues that need to be addressed using different management styles. MassBays has identified specific goals for different embayment types and will support communities in prioritizing actions and choosing the best methods to address specific issues. 

NUMSC Science Walk poster.

MassBays Brings People Together!

Poster closes the science walk by describing how MassBays provides support so we all benefit from clean water and healthy habitats.

We all benefit from clean water and healthy habitats. However working together is important to protect and restore our ecosystems and improve the wellbeing of communities who depend on our estuaries for their livelihood. MassBays is instrumental in bringing people from different sectors and agencies to work together and providing funding and technical support to communities.

Learn about the Healthy Estuaries Grants here.

Final Science Walk poster.


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