- Buzzards Bay
Buzzards Bay is a bay of the
Atlantic Oceanadjacent to the state of Massachusetts. It is approximately 45 kilometers (28 miles) long by 12 kilometers (8 miles) wide and is a popular destination for fishing, boating, and tourism. Since 1914, Buzzards Bay has been connected to Cape Cod Bayby the Cape Cod Canal. In 1998 Buzzards Bay was designated an Estuary of National Significance.
It is surrounded by the
Elizabeth Islandson the south, by Cape Codon the east, and the southern coasts of Bristol and Plymouth Counties in Massachusetts to the northwest. To the southwest, the bay is connected to Rhode Island Sound. The city of New Bedford, Massachusettsis a historically significant port on Buzzards Bay, known for its role as one of the world's most successful whaling ports in the early- to mid-1800s.
The latter portion of the
PleistoceneEpoch in New Englandsaw the creation of Buzzards Bay through the interplay of glacial and oceanic processes. Beginning approximately 50,000-70,000 years ago, the edges of the continental ice sheetcovering much of northern North Americabegan to fluctuate, leaving moraines to mark former extents of the ice. One such moraine forms most of the eastern shoreline of Buzzards Bay.
In addition to the moraines, the melting ice sheet produced extensive
outwash plains composed of mixed sediments and ice that bordered the bay to the northwest and west. Melting ice blocks in the outwash deposits formed distinctive circular features called kettle lakes. Numerous examples of kettle lakes can be found to the northwest of the Cape Cod Canal. Finally, waters released from the melting ice sheet raised sea level by 60-120 meters (198-396 feet) and drowned preexisting outwash channels. Buzzards Bay attained its broad current configuration approximately 15,000 years ago; the current sea level was present approximately 3,500 years ago.
The combination of shallow depth, tidal action and surface waves promotes mixing of the estuarine waters leading to a productive aquatic ecosystem. Like many estuaries, however, increasing development and land-use change by the surrounding communities are accompanied by nutrient runoff leading to
eutrophication(an increase in nutrient levels leading to oxygen depletion) in the smaller embayments. Decreases in eelgrass, scallops, and herringhave also been noted, but direct cause-and-effect relationships are not clear. Coordinated management efforts in Buzzards Bay have helped to decrease shellfishclosures, conserve habitat for sea birds, and preserve open space.
The name was given to this bay by colonists who saw a large bird that they called a
buzzardnear its shores. The bird was actually an osprey, and small numbers of osprey continue to breed along the shores of the bay.
In 1991, towns located on Buzzards Bay suffered the worst effects from the
storm surgeof Hurricane Bob.
The bay was the location of one of only three documented fatal shark attacks in the state's history. It occurred in 1936.
*cite web | url=http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Newsroom/NewImages/images.php3?img_id=17013 | title=Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts | publisher=
NASA Earth Observatory| accessdate=2006-05-08
* [http://www.mass.gov/envir/water/buzzardsBay/buzzardsBay.htm The Buzzards Bay watershed] .
* [http://www.buzzardsbay.org The Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program] .
* [http://maps.bpl.org/id/M8643/# 1906 Bird's Eye View of Buzzards Bay]
* [http://www.savebuzzardsbay.org/ The Coalition for Buzzards Bay]
* [http://www.danamorris.net/BB/BBay.html Sailing Buzzards Bay: Photographs]
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