• Miles of uncrowded white sandy beaches extend to the horizon, separating the clear blue ocean and undulating grass-covered dunes.

    Fire Island

    National Seashore New York

There are park alerts in effect.
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  • Pet Restrictions in Effect March 15 through Labor Day

    Dogs/other pets (except for service animals) are not allowed in the wilderness or on any of Fire Island's federally owned oceanfront beaches from March 15 through Labor Day to help protect threatened and endangered beach-nesting shorebirds. More »

  • Backcountry Camping Permit and Access Procedures

    Reservations for required permits must be obtained through www.recreation.gov. Due to the breach at Old Inlet, access to both east and west wilderness camping zones must now be from Watch Hill or points west, and involve a 1½ to 8 mile hike. More »

  • Attention Watch Hill Ferry Passengers

    Due to channel conditions, delay or cancellation of ferry service between Patchogue and Watch Hill may occur. For updated ferry schedule information, please call 631-475-1665.


Ghost Crabs can be found on Fire Island beaches
Ghost crab

Fire Island forms an interface between two distinctly different marine environments. The Atlantic Ocean borders the southern exposure of Fire Island and the Great South Bay and other estuarine environments border its northern exposure.

The estuary is one of the most productive habitats on earth, with its phytoplankton, eelgrass beds and salt marshes. In the Great South Bay, that means home for a variety of sea life. Detritus from the marshes is washed into the bay, where it is used as food by many organisms, including mollusks and crustaceans.

The sandy beaches within the intertidal zone support algae, bacteria, and a few species of worms and small crustaceans.

Crustaceans include crabs, shrimp, copepods, isopods, and other invertebrates with a hard exoskeleton.

One economically important shellfish in the waters surrounding Fire Island is the blue crab (Callinectus sapidus). Other crabs include the lady crab (Ovalipes ocellatus), green crab (Carcinus maenas), and spider crab (Libinia emarginata).

Ghost crabs (Ocypode sp.) dig their burrows on the beach, while mole crabs (Emerita talpoida) live in the swash zone along the edge of the ocean. The horseshoe crab is not a crustacean, but in a class of its own, more closely related to spiders.

Other crustaceans include the sand shrimp (Crangon septemspinos), and grass shrimp (Palaemonetes vulgaris).


Learn More
A series of Science Synthesis Papers was published in 2005 to support the preparation of a General Management Plan for Fire Island National Seashore.

Did You Know?

Hundreds of small, round, pearly-pink eggs lie scattered at water's edge beside horseshoe crab molt..

Horseshoe crabs come near shore on the full moon in May and June to lay thousands of eggs, which are a valuable food source for migrating shorebirds in spring and early summer. Occasionally, a perfectly-formed horseshoe crab molt can be found on the beach, shed as the young animal grows. More...