Friday, May 16, 2008

Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge

[Kyle] The next day, the forecast was for rain in the afternoon so Maryanne and I got up early for a quick upwind sail in the dinghy further up Coatue, landing right on the beach. We had the whole place to ourselves (we beat the crowds!). The place is a wildlife refuge mostly for the many nesting birds on the island. Maryanne and I dressed differently for this expedition. Maryanne had on several waterproof layers including sea boots. I wore shorts and a long sleeve shirt and went barefoot. This meant, of course, that I got to land the boat when we hit the beach and launch when we left. We walked through the sand and grass (very soft!) to the Atlantic side, back past the boat, crossed back to the harbor side and walked back up to the dinghy. At one point, we got to a crossing and I had (got!) to carry Maryanne through thigh high water in soft sand. I didn't mind. We were having fun. We got back in the dinghy and had another fast downwind sail back to the boat, again all smiles.

We put the dinghy back in lifeboat mode for our offshore passage to Maine and got everything ready for sea before retreating into the cabin just ahead of the rain. Footprint was coated in salt and needed a good fresh water rinse.

[Maryanne]The 2 mile walk around one end of the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge was stunning. Wild remote beaches, wildlife clearly not used to seeing humans. There were sand dunes, marshland areas, scrub, etc. I was glad we had such a nice day, as the area is fully exposed to the Atlantic. We beach combed, and came across lots of interesting discs on a string, which we guessed were the egg cases of some marine animal, but we had no idea what. A quick internet search afterward, and we discovered these are whelk cases - apparently each disc will contain upto 200 tiny baby whelks (Sea snails). Also we saw plenty of large horseshoe crab shells (mostly after the birds had finished picking at them). We have still to see a live one, but the evidence is everywhere. The place was full of wild birds, waders and sea birds, and some sections of the shore are marked as seed areas for Scallops (no collecting)... The walk along the beach gave me plenty of pleasant flashbacks to my marine biology studies, we really enjoyed ourselves; exploring like kids.

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