Although it’s been almost two months, it’s taken some time to get this project off the ground. But here begins the Notes from Monomoy, a collection of photos, videos, stories, and thoughts from the life of a field technician living on Monomoy Island.
About Monomoy: it’s considered a “remote” island, although you could probably throw a stone to it if you stood on South Beach in Chatham, MA. Despite the short distance, boat trips to the island- the only way to get people on and off it- require careful navigation of Chatham Harbors ever shifting rips, shoals, and currents. A trip that drops you a few hundred meters from your point of embarkation, for example, can take up to half an hour and wind through three or four miles of channels interspersed with sandbars and tidal flats. Low tide, and you’re not getting out there at all.
Which brings us to the inhabitants of Monomoy. “South Monomoy Island,” a welcome sign could read, “population: Scientists”
Nestled into the tern colony at the northern end of the island is a seasonal research camp, operated by US FWS and shared with the Massachusetts Audubon Society, which is home to a rotating cast of six scientists monitoring the terns, plovers, and oystercatchers that nest on the island. At the southern end of the island is the abandoned Monomoy Point Lighthouse, located almost a kilometer from the sea due to the ever-shifting nature of a barrier island and long since abandoned as a lighted aid to navigation. Nowadays, the lighthouse serves as an operations base for US FWS scientists monitoring the southern reaches of Monomoy, as well as the home of USDA employees conducting predator control exercises on the island. It’s a good group of people, people who relish the opportunity to make the most of what the Cape has to offer: abundant wildlife, breathtaking natural beauty, plentiful seafood, and having a great time with the rest of the islanders. (Hereafter, I’ll refer to us as the Monomoytians or Marshians.) In a place like this, the wildlife comes first, the simplest excursion can become an epic adventure, and every day is filled with sublime beauty.
I can also highly encourage you to visit my colleague Ivan’s blog at ivankuraev.com/monomoydiary. He’s living and working on the island with me.