Ten Pound Island.
Photo Courtesy Laurel Tarantino
A favorite quote of mine is one by Zelda Fitzgerald (1889~1948), “Nobody has ever measured, even poets, how much a heart can hold.” I so understand this. Science tells us that it’s impossible to die from a broken heart. I beg to differ; it sure feels like it sometimes, especially when you keep taking blow after blow, seems like the damage can be irreparable.
With friends, my heart fills with gladness for all that we have and share. These same friends have my best interest at hand when I’m sad for personal reasons. They’ll turn me around to see the positive impact I have on people that count on me and need me. Sometimes it’s hard to be needed.
I just took another blow to the heart again Tuesday night. I need more than my friends for repairs this time. Before I let the tragic issues of the world get the better of me and turn me into a cynical old woman that roams the streets hurrrmmping through life, I reach out to you, anyone that may be reading this.
The injury this time, for lack of a better description, “The Pimping out of Gloucester,” in particular, Ten Pound Island, with total disregard for nature and its needs. Where do we draw the line? When are we going to say, “You know what, enough is enough?” When every inch of it is sold off to the highest bidder?
Put before the Waterways Board Tuesday night was a proposal for a float system on Ten Pound Island. Sounds like a good idea, right? It would give people access to the island, a place for people to tie up their boats, a place where people could take the Shuttle service every hour. They even talked about tying it in with other activities… yoga, the sailing program, the arts. To me it sounds like another idea with an amusement park like theme. In fact, the proposal was called “Harbor Park.”
My apologies, I’m starting to sound cynical, I can feel it. I can’t help myself, when not one member of the board asked about the environmental impact to the area. No one brought up the fact that the island is a safe haven for hundreds of birds, birds that migrate there, nest, roost and raise their young there.
“Why shouldn’t everyone be allowed to enjoy the island?” has been a question on social media. The answer to that is that everyone can. People visit the island now by kayak, row boat, sail boat, paddle boards and small motor boats and all these folk seem to be very respectful of the area. They seem to understand the term “Carry In, Carry Out,” without having signs posted to tell them to do so. As it is now, the small boat traffic is about all the island can handle. I find the people that visit truly leave the island as they found it. If you open the area to an unlimited number of people for adventure I feel it would be incredibly hazardous to the environment. In the 90’s there was a shuttle you could catch a ride on that left you on the beach. During that time, my husband and I saw an increase in litter, dirty diapers strewn into the plant life that grows beyond the wall, human feces, an overflowing trash barrel that never got emptied, a neglected picnic table that usually had the aftermath of someone’s lunch on it, basically signs of an uncaring public.
I psyched myself up to go to this meeting Tuesday night and speak on behalf of the birds, as they have no voice in City Hall. This was going to be a great feat for me, as I’m petrified of public speaking, but I was willing to sacrifice my comfort. I was mortified when the meeting started with the Chair Person commenting, “I don’t know why all these people are here, for what issue, but I can tell you, there will be no public input.” I had my courage and couldn’t do anything with it and I was letting the birds down.
If you’ve never visited Ten Pound Island, you may not know what a beautiful sanctuary it is for several species of birds.
Snow Egrets. Photo Courtesy Laurel Tarantino
From late April to late October, there are Snowy Egrets that adorn the treetops in such numbers that I often refer to them as Christmas ornaments.
There are Great Egrets, Black Crowned Night Herons, Crows and occasional songbirds in the trees as well. Along the rocks you might be entertained by the sweet little Purple Sandpipers as they dab for small crustaceans while outrunning the splash of a small wave. Common Eiders scurry down the rocks and jump in to have a swim. Of course, there are the ever present Seagulls and Cormorants. All these lovely creatures can be seen if you take a quiet ride around the island in a boat.
There are also birds that nest on the ground in the interior of the island. One must be ever aware of their footing or they could very well harm the nest of a Mallard Duck sitting on her eggs. You might destroy an entire family of Canadian Geese if you’re not being careful,
Just Hatched Canadian Goslings. Photo Credit Denise Foley
since they may not always be sitting on their eggs, you might traipse right through them without their snarling warning. The Herring Gulls will distract your attention away from your footing to the sky as they swarm you to protect their nests, which are plentiful along the cliffs and on the ground.
I fear it will be disastrous for the birds if people are arriving every hour. In this day of cell phones with cameras, I’m afraid that this safe haven will slowly disappear and be replaced by 54 “Likes” on Facebook, because people will have to walk through the homes of these beautiful creatures in order to get a sought after photo of the Lighthouse. What will happen to the babies once they’re hatched? They’re so incredibly cute, I can see someone trying to catch one, which wouldn’t be very hard to do, since they have no defense against us humans.
Photo Credit Laurel Tarantino
What will happen to the thriving ecosystem in the water that surrounds the Island when you have a motor boat arriving several times a day, everyday of the week? I cringe to think of it.
I’ll end this long winded rant with another quote, this time from Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968) “The time is always right to do what is right.”
Please help stop the giving away of Gloucester. Believe me when I say (sadly) there are more great plans being drawn, but great for who is what needs to be asked.
To learn more about the Audubon (IBA) Important Bird Areas, which Ten Pound Island is part of, visit the following site:
Massachusetts Audubon – Conservation
Locally, here is the link to our city offices should you like to contact them with your concerns on this or any other issue:
Gloucester, MA – Official Website
Laurel Tarantino, writer, is happy to live in her hometown, Gloucester, with her husband, James,”Jimmy T,” daughter Marina Bella, and the family dog, Sport. She is known for “stopping to smell the roses” and loves to photograph and write about her beloved waterfront community.