Site 23: Trail's End

Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow - Elegiac Verse, Stanza 14

 

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This is the final site on the Land of Fires trail - and as the shoreline continues to change this site is often underwater at high tide! However, if you come during the low tides you see a whole world hidden in the inter-tidal zone. This point is exposed to tides, currents, and winds - wave action here is the greatest at any point along the trail. As such, the species composition is much different here than in the marsh or at the sandy beaches. Barnacles and blue mussels cover the rocks, sometimes hummocking upwards over each other. Large common periwinkles (Littorina littorea) are frequent here, feasting on macroalgae, as well as the carnivorous Altantic oyster drills (Urosalpinx cinerea), which drill into the barnacles in order to feed. If you look carefully, striped anemones (Haliplanella luciae) also cling to the rocks here, drawing particles out of the flowing water to consume.

The muddy, exposed marsh floor to the left gets filled with water at high tides. Here, prime habitat for quahogs attracts locals above ground, out to collect shellfish, as well as many worms, such as clam worms (Neris virens), in the sediment out for a meal.

If you feel like getting dirty, you too can dig in the mud in search of buried treasure. You can look for critters in the rocky shoals of the bay. You can cloud watch, watch the sail boats, or simply smell the salty breezes rising off the ocean to the south. Narragansett Bay is before you, a estuarine habitat where the fresh water of the rivers meets the salt water of the Altantic Ocean. Enjoy!

Land of Fires - Site 23