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...." Please contact us for a copy.

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.

Last updated: November 23, 2021

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Mailing Address:

Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park
21 Second Ave

Charlestown, MA 02129


617 223-8666

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