Recently our marine science class took a field trip to the edges of Humarock Beach, one of the best preserved environments in Massachusetts. It is characterized as a barrier beach, and protects the fragile estuary that lies behind it which consists of drumlins, salt marsh and mud flats. Its abundance makes it ideal for the habitation and reproduction of many species.There is one species, however, that has invaded this environment and will contribute to its destruction. By building houses, humans have disrupted this beautiful, serene place.
The edges of Humarock Beach have sand dunes that protect the estuary and its wildlife. The dunes are especially critical in preventing water from reaching the estuary whenever a storm raises the surf. In the middle of the beach, though, these dunes are replaced with houses built on stilts, and as a result the estuary is flooded with ocean water whenever a storm hits. On our field trip we noticed that behind these houses the area was not as well developed and that there was a change in the environment that significantly reduced the wildlife.
Another problem caused by humans can be seen in their effort to prevent the drumlin from eroding. The drumlin is a glacial deposit of gravel that provides sand to the entire beach. Waves from the ocean erode the drumlin and carry the gravel away so that it is eventually ground into sand. Humans, in an effort to protect the houses on top of the drumlin, have built a stonewall to prevent the drumlin from eroding. Consequently, over time the beach will become smaller so that the ocean will destroy the estuary, which is vital to the survival of marine life.
Humans depend on marine life as a source of food, income and much more. By developing land along the beach, humans have disturbed this eco-system. Hopefully generations to come will learn to understand an environment before settling in it.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.