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Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge
Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge Review
This 2,500-acre preserve includes the Monomoy Islands, a fragile 9-mile-long barrier-beach area south of Chatham. Monomoy's North and South islands were created when a storm divided the former Monomoy Island in 1978. A haven for bird-watchers, the refuge is an important stop along the North Atlantic Flyway for migratory waterfowl and shorebirds—peak migration times are May and late July. It also provides nesting and resting grounds for 285 species, including gulls—great black-backed, herring, and laughing—and several tern species. White-tailed deer wander the islands, and harbor and gray seals frequent the shores in winter. The only structure on the islands is the South Monomoy Lighthouse, built in 1849.
Monomoy is a quiet, peaceful place of sand and beach grass, tidal flats, dunes, marshes, freshwater ponds, thickets of bayberry and beach plum, and a few pines. Because the refuge harbors several endangered species, activities are limited. Certain areas are fenced off to protect nesting areas of terns and the threatened piping plover. Get trail maps and information at the small visitor center.
In season, the Rip Ryder leads for bird- or seal-watching tours. 508/945-5450. www.monomoyislandferry.com.
Monomoy Island Excursions offers seal and seabird tours and boat trips out around Monomoy Island on a 43-foot high-speed catamaran. 508/430-7772. www.monomoyislandexcursions.com.
Outermost Adventures provides water-taxi services to Monomoy Island and offers fishing, birding, and seal-watching cruises. 508/945-5858. www.outermostharbor.com.
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