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Island Science

The Season of Change | Nantucket, MA

The Season of Change

Fall on Nantucket usually heralds the slowing down of life on-island. Businesses change their hours, restaurants close for a few days every week, and the ferries have reduced schedules. During a typical fall, the rhythm of the island shifts from the manic excitement of summer to school schedules, Friday night football games, and making plans for winter travel.

Flooding on Nantucket

Climate Change on a Local Level

In early September, the Coastal Resiliency Advisory Committee for Nantucket adopted September as Climate Change Awareness month, followed swiftly by a proclamation by Nantucket Select Board. What does that mean? As part of the proclamation, the Select Board “…encourages all residents to learn more about the threats of climate change and sea level rise and the planning efforts underway to increase community resilience.”


September is a time for reminiscence and reflection: time for all to take a collective exhale as we look back on the growing season. The pace has slowed and we turn our attention to gathering harvests and preparing the delicious comfort food of autumn.

Drive-by Botany

I am a terrible gardener. I try with my perennial garden beds, but the ecologist in me always wants to leave the plants to their own. Let them fend for themselves. Survival of the fittest is the theme. Needless to say, it’s the native plants that don’t need much water and the weedy species that persist. Anyone who has read my previous columns knows that I am not a fan of non-native invasive plants. However, the term “weedy” can be used for a number of plants that may be 1) native, but with fast growing, invasive tendencies (think poison ivy) or 2) non-native species that grow well in ruderal habitats such as roadsides, parking lots, and bike paths.

Milkweed Tussock Moth Caterpillar | Nantucket, MA

Monarchs and Moths:

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the diversity of milkweed plants that grow on Nantucket. By now, the blossoms have faded, the seed pods are maturing, and the lush leaves continue to photosynthesize in the hot August sun.

Turning an Island Museum Inside Out

The Nantucket Shipwreck and Lifesaving Museum has found an innovative way of sharing their exhibits during the global pandemic: they are turning their museum inside out! Instead of welcoming the public inside this year, they are encouraging visitors to come to the museum’s grounds at 158 Polpis Road, to enjoy the gorgeous scenery and see the outdoor exhibits express what would be found inside the museum.