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Sept. 18, 1999 Landsat image of Cape Cod. The Outer Beach (magenta arrow) along the right-hand side of the Cape is eroding back at a few feet per year. Some of the sand is building out to the south and north (yellow arrows), but some of the sand is being lost to deeper water, so the Cape is shrinking.

All pictures in this slide show, except this one, by R. Alley, C. Alley, J. Alley or K. Alley.


One good tern…

deserves another.


The great Nauset Marsh, viewed from the back porch of the Salt Pond Visitor Center, Cape Cod National Seashore.


Bumblebee visiting pickerelweed, which grows in the shallows at the edge of Great Pond, Eastham, Cape Cod. By building a lake-studded outwash plain into the ocean, the glaciers left a rich mix of aquatic habitats.


Gulls, such as these herring gulls, are widespread and successful generalists, equally at home along fresh and salt waters, as well as cleaning up messes left by humans.


A fish that doesn’t watch out may realize too late that he blue it.

Great blue herons, Nauset Marsh.


Salt marshes are highly productive, and support a diversity of life…

including sandpipers (top) and yellowlegs (right). Nauset Marsh, Cape Cod.


Cormorants were not present on the Cape a few decades ago, but now are commonly seen fishing or drying their wings.


Coasts loom large in our natural psyche, and tens of millions of people each year visit our coasts for recreation and sunburns.

These pictures show a cold, gray day at Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, and there are still lots of people out.


Waves and tidal currents move immense amounts of sand, leaving beautiful ripples, as shown in these closeups from First Encounter Beach.


Cape Cod’s beaches may be backed by rapidly eroding bluffs, by sand dunes covered with a thin layer of hardy vegetation that can be damaged easily by human activities (as shown here), or by salt marshes.


Nauset Light. The light was moved in 1996, just before the rapid erosion of the bluffs along this part of the coastline dropped this historical building into the waves. Everyone with a long memory of the Cape has stories of things that have been lost to the encroaching sea.


Great Rock, the Cape’s largest glacial erratic (big rock carried by the glacier) attests to the ability of ice to move pieces of many different sizes. The rock extends below the picture, and then about as far into the ground as above.