Friends of Sengekontacket
Annual Report 2019-2020
State Beach Cleanup Projects – FOS continued our intensive beach cleanup campaign again this year. We fund young workers to pick up trash along the beaches and road several times per week. In partnership with Dukes County, we fund the Beach Patrol Officer extra hours to pick up along the roadside daily and patrol for dogs or vehicles on the beach. We have received many great comments about the beach cleanliness for the past two years.
FOS sponsors intensive cleanup projects (beaches, dunes and pathways) in October, Earth Day and late June. This year the island-wide Earth Day cleanup was cancelled. However, FOS organized several cleanups with small groups of volunteers in order to maintain social distancing.
SENGEKONTACKET IN-WATER POND PROGRAMS
Summer interns – For the past five years, in partnership with the Oak Bluffs and Edgartown Shellfish Departments and the MVC, FOS has funded two students studying marine and environmental sciences to work on hands-on educational Shellfish Department projects. This past summer, due to COVID-19, the Shellfish Departments could not support interns. We expect the program will resume next summer.
Experimental Oyster Beds – FOS continues the sponsorship of an MV Shellfish Group project to develop small oyster beds in the upper reaches of Majors Cove to help mitigate nutrient inputs and reduce algal blooms before they work their way downstream to the larger pond. The project uses spat-on-shell oyster clusters which are generally believed to be less appealing to predators and would remain unharvested to reproduce and hopefully become a self sustaining population. Results of spat-on-shell oysters produced in 2018 and collected in the fall of 2019, were encouraging with a good number of healthy oyster clusters retrieved (photo). In 2020 the project focuses on growing oysters to a larger size before planting them. An estimated 1.5 million oyster larvae spawned this summer will be over-wintered (2020-2021) in cages in Majors Cove and planted in Senge in the fall of 2021.
Bathymetry and Tidal Flow Measurement Project – FOS, in collaboration with the MV Shellfish Group and Martha’s Vineyard Commission, is funding extensive Bathymetry (depth) and Tidal Flow measurements of Senge. This data will be analyzed and compared to hydrodynamic models develop for the 2005 Mass Estuaries Project. This data will help determine changes in flushing and silting of the Pond over the past 15 years. The results of the project are expected to provide the data needed to support dredging in some critical channel and flats areas to improve pond circulation.
BARRIER BEACH PROGRAMS
Dunes Restoration and Nourishment- In partnership with Dukes County, we oversee a system of sand fencing and periodic sand re-nourishment needed to rebuild State Beach dunes. Over the past 3 years sand has been rapidly accumulating, beach grass planted by FOS is thriving and other native plants are filling in the developing dune areas. Over 4500 cubic yards of sand dredged from the Little Bridge channel in January was spread on the more vulnerable dune areas. FOS sponsored volunteer planting of an additional 2500 sq ft of new beach grass in March.
EDUCATION AND OUTREACH
Carry In /Carry Home Program - Instituted more than twenty five years ago, the project is a hallmark of FOS’s education outreach. A competition is held at the Oak Bluffs and Edgartown schools each year to develop artwork to be displayed on signs at the 48 beach entrances. The contest could not be held this year due to COVID, but we hope to continue in the spring. This past summer we were able to reuse signs created last year.
Environmental Education Program with Felix Neck - Educators from Felix Neck developed and deliver classroom programs in all Island schools and lead field trips based on state-mandated curriculum standards. With FOS support, Felix Neck staff reach out to middle school teachers to increase participation in water education programs with students from Oak Bluffs and Edgartown. This year, due to COVID, Felix Neck is offering outdoor homeschool and afterschool options for Island students. FOS provides funding for a number of Island students who need financial support to attend the program.
NIPSY - Our beach cleanup programs were showcased in 2019 with the addition of NIPSY, our shark made from beach trash, who was a highlight of the Ag Fair (two blue ribbons) and Tivoli Day. Hundreds of visitors stopped to talk, take pictures and to thank FOS (and make a few donations) for the work we are doing to help the environment. Unfortunately, NIPSY was damaged during a winter storm last year, but she will be rebuilt for next year.
Oar and Paddle Regatta – This year participation had to be limited to small heats, and no crowds were allowed to watch on the beach. We still had a blast paddling for cleaner waters and raising awareness about FOS. We hope to return to a full Regatta next summer and see some strong competition on the water!