Saturday, July 31, 2010
Observations from day 2
We boarded the T commuter boat around 1pm on a beautiful day. The waterfront was full or people and bustling with activity. The inner harbor had a lot of recreational boating going on. As we travelled down the inner harbor, the waterfront was largely industrial or formerly industrial, now commercialized areas, the shore all seawalls and piers, with many large waterfront buildings. Several of the harbor islands could be seen ahead, however, and their undeveloped nature was an interesting contrast to the busy waterfront. One of the first things that struck me about the harbor was actually how small it felt. One might expect something like open water with land on the horizons, but you see the islands immediately, and they and the very numerous small spits and points are surprisingly close - the landscape is very complex. Many of the islands had a similar profile, sort of ovalish with a high point closer to one end, like an egg cut lengthwise and laid sideways. This shape is characteristic of drumlins. We passed the airport and an old fort and moved into the outer harbor. Further out the boat traffic was still heavier than I expected. There were fewer recreational boats, although still a lot of them, and there were a lot of the larger commuter boats and ferries like the one we were on. We saw the treatment plant on Deer Island, which the professor later described in detail. We passed two man-made navigation aids, Nixes Mate and, off in the distance, Boston Light. We saw another fort, on Georges Island, passed through Hull Gut, and pulled into Hull. The beach at Hull was light gray and appeared from a distance to be gravelly. From Hull we travelled down to the Fore River Shipyard. Despite being an industrial area, with a former shipyard and a present day human waste pelletizing plant, the area looked and smelled clean and unpolluted. At that point the boat headed back up to Boston, stopping at the airport. Along the way we passed through a flock of gulls circling and swooping down to the water. According to the professor, the gulls were feeding on the remains of a school of small fish which were being eaten by striped bass. A small gathering of recreational fisherman were in the immediate area as well, presumably hoping to feed on the bass.
Overall I think this short cruise revealed a surprising diversity of habitats in such a small area. I look forward to exploring some of them in detail.