• Lush vegetation on the top of Spectacle Island's North drumlin dominates the foreground. Boston's skyline can be seen in the distance.  The park's logo with tag line minutes away, worlds apart empashises the stark contrast between the city and islands.

    Boston Harbor Islands

    National Recreation Area Massachusetts

Animals

Terrestrial Animals
The diversity of upland and marine habitats provides good nesting and feeding opportunities for a number of bird species. A few species of terrestrial mammals, including exotic species, have occured throughout the islands, such as cottontail rabbits, raccoons, skunks, gray squirrels, mice, muskrats, voles, and Norway rats. Some species have been known to devastate populations of small vertebrates and nesting birds. Although formal surveys are in initial stages, Eastern garter snake, Northern brown snake, and Eastern smooth green snake are known to occur on the islands.

An inventory was completed in 2007 to document mammal, reptile, and amphibian species expected to be found on the Boston Harbor Islands. "Due to logistical and budgetary constraints, and the lack of existing data relevant to the islands of Boston Harbor, this project was limited to islands isolated from the mainland...."

» An Inventory of Amphibians, Reptiles, Nonvolant Mammals, and Select Bird Species On Islands In Boston Harbor (Technical Report NPS/NER/NRTR--2007/094)

Wetland and Aquatic Marine Animals
The Boston Harbor Islands provide shelter and food-rich habitats for marine birds, mammals, fishes and invertebrates, as well as nurseries for their young. Much of the Gulf of Maine fauna can be found in Boston Harbor, especially around the Brewsters. Lobsters, crabs, and clams inhabit submerged portions of the islands. Mussels and barnacles cling to the intertidal zone. Jellyfish live in the surrounding waters. Several species of fish, including striped bass, bluefish, and winter flounder, live in waters surrounding the islands. Little Brewster, Nixes Mate, Shag Rocks, and other islands characterized by bedrock outcroppings contain rocky intertidal communities of rockweed and barnacles. Harbor seals haul out on some of the outer islands. Because their feeding grounds or migratory routes are nearby, humpback, fin, minke, and North Atlantic right whales and white-sided and striped dolphins are potential, though rare, visitors, as are harbor porpoises.

 
Protected Species
The Massachusetts Natural Heritage Program lists six rare species known to exist within the park, including two species listed as threatened and four of special concern. They are the birds barn owl, common tern, least tern, and Northern harrier, and the plants sea beach dock and American sea blite.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service reports several federally listed endangered and threatened species of fish, turtles, birds, and mammals near or in coastal waters of Massachusetts, but not known to be found among the Boston Harbor Islands. There are no island species on the federal list.

Did You Know?

Satellite Imagery of Boston Harbor Seafloor and Islands

Boston Harbor Islands is one of 14 national park that has the word "islands" in the name. Other island parks include Channel Islands in California, Apostle Islands in Wisconsin, Governors Island in New York and Assateague Island in Maryland.