State of Wellfleet Harbor the Focus of Annual Conference

COURTESY OF MASS AUDUBON

COURTESY OF MASS AUDUBON

WELLFLEET – Sharks, seals, horseshoe crabs and snapping turtles will be the focus of presentations at the annual State of Wellfleet Harbor Conference Saturday.

An update will be given on shark research, including the discovery of white sharks in Wellfleet Harbor last year, along with the latest research on the Vibrio bacteria affecting the shellfish industry.

“I’m not sure people realize to the extent that the shellfishermen are going to making sure they stay within the guidelines the state has put forward,” said Bob Prescott, the director of Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. “It really is making sure that the shellfish are iced down literally from the time the tide drops and they are taken out of the water until they are sold or taken to the various fish markets or seafood wholesalers.”

Presentations also include the New England gray seal population’s role as a sentinel species for the health of the coastal ecosystem, a two-year study of horseshoe crab movements in the harbor and how snapping turtles feed on river herring.

Prescott says the conference is popular for residents across the Outer Cape.

“We usually get upwards to 200 participants coming in during the course of the morning and early afternoon and participating in the field walks.

The conference will be held at the Wellfleet Elementary School from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

It will be followed by a field walk from 2 to 4 p.m. at Duck Harbor. The walk will discuss the sea turtle stranding season and participants will help look for cold-stunned sea turtles.

A second walk led by the Center for Coastal Studies geologist Mark Borrelli will be held from 10 a.m. to noon on Sunday and will focus on erosion and scouring around Indian Neck and the potential impacts of climate change.

“The real focus is really science and research that’s going on in and around Wellfleet Harbor,” Prescott said.

More information and a full schedule of events can be found at www.massaudubon.org/wellfleet-harbor-conference.

By BRIAN MERCHANT, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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