Monday, June 30, 2014

2014 Beaches Report Card

On Monday, June 30, 2014 Save the Harbor/Save the Bay released its third annual Beaches Water Quality Report Card on the Boston Harbor Region’s public beaches from Nahant to Nantasket that are managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR).

The report card is based on an in-depth analysis of thousands of samples taken by the DCR and the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) in 2013. The samples were collected at 34 testing sites on public beaches in 9 communities including Nahant, Lynn, Revere, Winthrop, East Boston, South Boston, Dorchester, Quincy and Hull.

The report card is based on methodology developed by Save the Harbor/Save the Bay’s Beaches Science Advisory Committee (BSAC), Co-Chaired by Dr. Judy Pederson of MIT’s Sea Grant Program and Dr. Jim Shine of the Harvard School of Public Health. 

2014 Results
Overall, water quality continues to be very good on most Boston Harbor region public beaches, however overall beach safety decreased sightly from 92.90% in 2012 to 90.45% in 2013, primarily as a result of wet weather.

Here is a snapshot of the results:

·         For the third year in a row, South Boston received the top Overall Beach Safety score of beaches tested daily with 99.15%, followed by Constitution Beach in East Boston with 97.05% and Pleasure Bay with 95.61%.
·         For weekly tested beaches, Nantasket Beach in Hull tied with Savin Hill Beach in Dorchester to top the list with 100% Overall Beach Safety in 2013, followed by a tie for second between Short Beach in Revere and Winthrop Beach with 94.12%.
·         Revere Beach scored 93.75% in 2013, down from 100% in 2012, and Nahant scored 91.18% in 2013, a slight increase from 2012—both beaches are tested weekly.
·         Wollaston Beach in Quincy, tested daily, scored 88.27% in 2013, down from 93.20% in 2012.
·         King’s Beach in Lynn and Swampscott scored 83.12% in 2013, down from 86.40% in 2012, while Malibu Beach in Dorchester scored 76.47% in 2013, down from 88.89% in 2012.
·         Tenean Beach in Dorchester scored at the bottom of the list with 62.96% in 2013, down from 81.82% in 2012.

According to Bruce Berman, Director of Strategy, Communication's and Programs at Save the Harbor/Save the Bay, the decrease in overall beach safety in 2013 is fairly easy to explain. "Bacterial pollution on these beaches is most often caused by storm water discharges that accompany summer showers, squalls and storms. 2013 was a very rainy year, with 20.88 inches of rain,  nearly twice as much rain as in in the summer 2012, which was fairly dry with just 12.07 inches of rain."

Save the Harbor is also pleased to note that Boston Water and Sewer's continued commitment to addressing illegal connections has resulted in improved water quality at Constitution Beach in East Boston, which achieved an overall beach safety rating of 97.05% in 2013, a substantial improvement over previous years despite the wet weather. 

Though water quality on many of the region's public beaches is great, Save the Harbor continues to be concerned about water quality at King's Beach in Lynn and Swampscot, and at both Tenean Beach and Malibu Beach in Dorchester, and to a lesser extent at Constitution Beach in East Boston and Wollaston Beach in Quincy. In 2014 Save the Harbor will continue to work with these communities to help them secure the resources they need to address these problems.

Beach Flagging and Posting Accuracy

Flagging accuracy continued to be a problem on area beaches in 2013, as it was in 2012 when we were forced to flunk the flags. You can find a nice piece on this subject by Larry Harmon of the Boston Globe by following this link.

Overall flagging accuracy decreased slightly in 2013 from 2012. While blue flag accuracy remained fairly high, more than 50% of the red flags were still wrong on area beaches in 2013, as a result of the 24 hour delay between when the samples are taken and the results posted.

In early June, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health amended the beach flagging protocol to reduce the number of incorrect red flags flown on the beaches. Save the Harbor supports that change, which you can read about here. We are confident that the new posting policy will improve the accuracy of the red flags, but also note that it will not improve water quality on these beaches.

In 2014, Save the Harbor will continue to advocate for additional public investment to help local communities address persistent pollution problems that continue to close beaches in Lynn, Dorchester and Quincy. We will also continue to work with the Metropolitan Beaches Commission, and with DCR, MWRA, EPA, DEP, DPH and our Beaches Science Advisory Committee to develop more accurate models to better predict when to post or flag a beach.  

You can download the 2014 Beaches Report Card, see the data and learn more about the methodology on which the report card is based at:

For more information on Save the Harbor / Save the Bay’s Beaches Report Card, contact Bruce Berman on his cell at 617-293-6243 or email

Save the Harbor / Save the Bay would like to thank Dr. Jim Shine and Dr. Judy Pederson, Co-Chairs of our Beaches Science Advisory Committee, Kelly Coughlin of the MWRA, DCR’s Gary Briere, and Save the Harbor’s water quality analyst Jacqueline Sussman and policy intern Yudan Jiang for their help with this report.

Hi everybody! My name is Hanna Petroski, and I'm an Environmental Policy/Communications intern at Save the Harbor this summer.

 I grew up in a landlocked state, so it might seem strange that I came all the way to Boston for the summer to join an organization devoted to beaches. However, I spent my last summer on a beach, counting sea turtle nests. Somewhere between tripping over driftwood in the early mornings, dipping my toes in the surf during hot afternoons, and tracking turtles across the sand under the stars, I fell in love with the ocean. I knew I wanted to spend this summer as close to the sea as possible. Working on the beach, in every sense of the phrase, is a dream come true.

            I was drawn to Save the Harbor / Save the Bay for their holistic approach to conservation. As much as I love turtles, they aren't the only creatures to use the ocean. The harbor and beaches need to work for people too, and I'm excited to be part of an organization that has had so much success with cleaning up the water for both swimmers and marine ecosystems.

            In my three years studying environmental studies at the University of Chicago, I've focused my studies on ecology and human-environment interactions. I hope I can use this knowledge to effectively work on conserving the beautiful regions along the coastline here. I also hope to learn more about some of the behind-the-scenes work of environmental conservation, and to take this knowledge with me for my final year of undergrad and whatever comes after.

It's nice to meet you all, and I hope to see you at our events!

The Real Maxwell Kennedy-Reid

Hello everyone my name is Maxwell Kennedy-Reid and I will be a Lead Harbor Explorer this summer at Save The Harbor.  This is my first year with the program and after meeting Bruce I can say that I am very excited to have the opportunity to serve such a passionate organization with such a positive message.  I love having fun, cracking jokes and living life to the fullest but I suppose you want to know a little more than that.

I grew up in Cambridge Massachusetts and then moved to Medford in 6th grade.  I have always been a fan of the ocean ever since I was a kid because I love going to the beach with friends and family.  Whenever I am there I feel relaxed and at times away from the world, meaning away from the stress of school, jobs and life as a whole.  I have always viewed the ocean as an escape away from reality because its so beautiful and peaceful whenever I go to see it.  Every summer my friends and I spend a majority of our time at Nahant beach playing volleyball, lacrosse or just catching a swim and enjoying the beautiful summer days and nights, we can spend hours on top of hours there which unfortunately turns into a problem when we forget to re-apply sunblock (so pretty much every time) but it also leads to great adventures and even better memories.

Although I may not be the most educated and informed about the ocean I truly do enjoy it.  I am someone who is grateful to have the chance to serve Save The Harbor and learn more about the great beaches and other bodies of water we aim to protect while having fun and meeting everyone through sports and other activities.  Im also a huge fan of sports I play Lacrosse at Stonehill College and many intramural sports in my free time to stay active and because of my love for athletics.  Im excited to start the program and can't wait to meet you all.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Seagull Diversity in Boston Harbor

It’s safe to say that no matter where you go in Boston Harbor you will inevitably notice seagulls.  However the term seagull is generic and ambiguous in terms of physiology and behavior. While many of these species look similar they do in fact differ considerably.  Of the 26 species found in North America and around the Arctic Circle, 14 of them can be found in Boston Harbor.  Most of these species come down from the Arctic Circle to breed in the winter, however three of them are year round; Great Black-backed Gulls, Black-tailed Gulls and Herring Gulls.  

One of the most strikingly different species in both appearance and behavior is the Laughing Gull.  Unlike its closely related kin, Laughing gulls spend there winters much farther south closer to the equator and migrate to the northeast to breed in the summer.  Their distinct call for which they are named after and being the only species of these genera with a black neck and head typically present in summer make them easy and fun to identify for this time of year.  The rarest of the 14 species to pass through Boston Harbor is Franklin’s Gull.  This species has one of the longest migrations of these species spanning over 5,000 miles.  Never actually residing in the harbor Franklin’s Gull migrates up through the Northeast in the fall then heads west over the Great Lakes to western Canada to breed in the summer.  Another unique characteristic of this species is that unlike
other gulls this species has two distinctive molts that change its head and neck from completely black to a gray patch around the eyes and its beak from orange and black tipped to black and orange tipped.
Besides for size and markings, there are many other defining features that can be used to identify the various species of gulls that inhabit our coastal communities such as eye color, tail shape and the pattern in which they fly.

I highly recommend that if you’re interested in shoreline ecology, ornithology or just and enthusiast of birds and wildlife to find a field guide or app for your phone that you can take out with your on these excursions.  I highly recommend Peterson Field Guides due to their ease of use, beautiful illustrations and comprehensive subject matter.  However, if you want to travel light having the right app on your phone may be the way to go.  After trying out many of apps, the iBird Pro app is by far the most useful and educational tool for any bird outing.  With almost a thousand birds in its library and a host of features such as audio calls, photographs, illustrations, migration patterns and direct links to Flicker to post your own pictures right from your phone this is must have.  
I am a recent graduate from Central Connecticut State University and have been volunteering with Audubon Society for the last four years now.  I have been extremely fortunate to intern here in Boston for Save the Harbor/Save the Bay where I am able to research and write about issues that effect shore ecology and water quality.  

Until then, here are some other pictures of Boston Harbor’s avian wildlife I have managed to capture that I would like to share with you along with some links to live bird cams hosted by Cornell's Lab of Ornithology.  

A Great Black-backed (top left) and Ring-billed gulls in the Seaport District
Female Red-breasted Merganser (top left) and its mate (top right) off of Fish Pier
Great Egret (bottom) foraging for fish or crayfish and taking off

Great Blue Heron Cam

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Get To Know Me - Lindsay Phenix

Hello All!

My name is Lindsay Phenix and I will be a Senior Harbor Educator this summer for Save the Harbor/Save the Bay.  This will be my first summer on the harbor and I can’t wait to get started!  Before we dive into the excitement to come, here is a little bit about myself!

I grew up in Tewksbury, Massachusetts and spent just about every summer on Cape Cod.  It was there that my love of the ocean began.  Thanks to my dad and grandfather I became fearless when it came to exploring the waters and shores just down the road from our beach house.  Turning over rocks to see what lived underneath, snorkeling in the shallows, collecting shells, and catching crabs with nothing more than string and the previous night’s leftovers provided endless days of entertainment and wonder.  It’s safe to assume that from those early days I developed sea foam in my veins and the ocean has fascinated me ever since. 

This fascination with the ocean and the living world around me led me to major in Biology when I attended Saint Michael’s College in Burlington, Vermont.   Although the green mountain state has no ocean in sight, I managed to work in my aquatic interests through my minors in Environmental Studies and Studio Art.  (Fun Fact: Although it often confused my art professors, I always chose to paint or draw sharks for my final projects)

The summer leading into my senior year I had the opportunity to study abroad on the Caribbean Island of South Caicos (located in the Turks & Caicos Islands).  There I studied with the School for Field Studies conducting research on the island’s marine life and marine protected areas.  Additionally, I learned about the many conservation efforts taking place to protect the fragile reef ecosystems from over fishing and global warming.  My time in South Caicos was amazing and the marine life was vastly different from everything I was used to finding in New England waters.  I can now say that I’ve captured and tagged sea turtles and baby lemon sharks, as well as swam with beautiful spotted eagle rays and countless tropical fish. 

My journey thus far has certainly been an interesting one, and I can’t wait to see where Save the Harbor/Save the Bay takes me.  Not only am I getting the opportunity to share my love of the ocean with others, but I’m also getting a chance to share another love of mine – that being sports!  I played volleyball, basketball and softball throughout high school, and I went on to play Division II Volleyball for my college.

I’m looking forward to this wonderful opportunity with Save the Harbor/Save the Bay, meeting new people, and most of all helping to inspire the next generation of crab catchers, beach explorers and shell enthusiasts!

Get ready to dive into summer!!


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Kelly Randall- About me!

Hello everybody!

My name is Kelly Randall and I will be a Senior Harbor Educator this summer with Save the Harbor/ Save the Bay! This will be my first summer with STH, and I am beyond excited to get started- this is my first blog post of many, and I would like to take the time to tell you a little bit about myself!

I grew up on the Long Island Sound in Connecticut where I spent my summers exploring our beaches and waters on kayaks, sailboats, and stand-up paddleboards (needless to say- I love the water!)

Exploring tide pools in New Zealand
Ever since I was a child I have had a strong interest in our oceans, and knew that I would want to spend my life studying all they have to offer. I took my first Marine Science class in high school, and fell in love with the subject. I then went on to study Environmental Studies and Marine Sciences at Stony Brook University on Long Island. While completing my degree, I had the amazing opportunity of studying abroad in New Zealand at the University of Auckland. While there, I was able to further develop my knowledge and passion about Marine Sciences while studying the Southern Ocean and Antarctic Biology, as well as Ecological Restoration. I was also able to begin my SCUBA certification and had the opportunity to dive in the beautiful (but cold!) New Zealand waters- I even got to see a Little Blue Penguin in the wild!

My varied experiences and passion for my studies have led me here- to Save the Harbor/ Save the Bay. I am incredibly excited for the opportunity to work for a non-profit organization, teaching kids about the Boston Harbor and the importance of its conservation! I am eager to scour the beaches for horseshoe crabs and explore the Boston Harbor islands, as I am not a native Bostonian. My favorite lessons to teach are ones that enable kids to get up close and personal with some sea creatures- nothing is more exciting than pulling a crab trap out of the water and seeing what critters you’ve caught!

As I have said, I can’t wait to get this summer started! I am most looking forward to meeting new people, leading engaging activities centered on the Boston Harbor, and hanging out with some famous Boston lobsters!

Hope to see you on the beaches!


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Save the Harbor 2014 Better Beaches Awards

On Saturday, June 7, 2014 Save the Harbor / Save the Bay awarded $31,500 in Better Beaches grants to 18 groups to support dozens of free public events in nine beachfront communities from Nahant to Nantasket this summer.

This year's Better Beaches Program awards winners at
Save the Harbor's office on Boston's Fish Pier.
This year’s “Better Beaches” events include sand sculpting competitions, beachfront concerts, environmental education programs, family fun nights, reading nights, art festivals, beach yoga, and other beach programs in Lynn, Nahant, Revere, Winthrop, East Boston, South Boston, Dorchester, Quincy and Hull.

By the end of the season, Save the Harbor's Better Beaches program will have invested more than $214,000 in small grants to beaches friends groups in Lynn, Nahant, Revere, Winthrop, East Boston, South Boston, Dorchester, Quincy and Hull. They in turn have leveraged our funds with $816,000 in additional cash and in-kind support for a total investment of more than $1 million in more than 200 free beach events and programs since 2007.

“The Boston Harbor region's public beaches are important assets to the region's residents and visitors alike,” said Patricia A. Foley, President of Save the Harbor/Save the Bay. “We are proud to support our partners in the city's waterfront neighborhoods and beachfront communities as they work to share their beaches and the harbor with the region’s kids and families.”

Among the events funded by the Better Beaches program this year
is the Revere Beach National Sand Sculpting Festival.

Save the Harbor / Save the Bay launched the Better Beaches grants program in 2008 to help local communities and formal and informal beaches Friends Groups jump-start free events and activities on public beaches from Nahant to Nantasket with the support of The Boston Foundation.

Today the funds to sustain this program come from the annual “Harpoon Helps Cupid Splash” pledge fundraiser, and Save the Harbor’s Better Beaches Program funding partners at Harpoon Brewery, JetBlue Airways, National Grid, Comcast Massachusetts, the Harold Whitworth Pierce Charitable Trust, Russo Marine, and P&G Gillette.

Nearly 200 brave souls plunged into the chilly waters of Boston Harbor this year
to raise funds for the Better Beaches Program at the Harpoon Helps Cupid Splash.

This year the “Harpoon Helps Cupid Splash” raised more than $30,000 from nearly 500 splashers and supporters to fund this year’s Better Beaches program grants, as participants competed for JetBlue Airways tickets and great gifts from Harpoon Brewery.

 "Harpoon started brewing beer on the waterfront 27 years ago. We couldn't have imagined then how Boston Harbor has been transformed into such a wonderful place" said Charles M. Storey, Sr. V.P. of Marketing at Harpoon Brewery. "Nor could we imagine that we would have so much fun plunging into clean, cold water and having a cold beer! We love being a part of the Cupid Splash and supporting Save the Harbor/Save the Bay and the Better Beaches Program."

Special thanks to our program partners at the BCYF Curley Community Center, the Department of Conservation & Recreation, the YMCA, Legal Sea Foods, Mix 104.1, and Tasty Burger for their support.

This summer Save the Harbor will once again host two Better Beaches events at the BCYF Curley Community Center at M Street Beach in South Boston. These include the Youth Beach Bash and Splash, which will bring 500 kids to the beach to celebrate clean water, and the Swim and Paddle for Boston Harbor, a one mile, chip-timed competitive swim and a stand up paddleboard race on one of the cleanest urban beaches in America.

Competitors line up for the stand up paddleboard race at last year's Swim and Paddle for Boston Harbor.

Here are the 2014 Better Beaches Awards Winners.

    In addition to the grants, Save the Harbor/Save the Bay also gave each group a bag of one-inch diameter marbles to scatter on their respective beaches as part of the “Simply Marble-ous” Treasure Hunt sponsored by JetBlue Airways. Anyone who finds one of these marbles between July 4th and the end of the summer will be have a chance to win a round trip airline ticket from JetBlue Airways.
    Ronda Ivy McLeod, Manager of Regional Marketing, Northeast at JetBlue Airways, whose team  raised more than $2,500 at this year's splash said "We are always happy to partner with Save the Harbor/Save the Bay. Core to our mission is inspiring humanity, whether it is in the air or on the beach!"

    For more information about Save the Harbor/Save the Bay, visit our website at and follow savetheharbor on Facebook and Twitter.

    For information on upcoming Better Beaches events, join our Boston Harbor Facebook page at

    Wednesday, June 4, 2014

    Waves of Change: The Report of the Metropolitan Beaches Commission.

    On Tuesday June 3, 2014 the Metropolitan Beaches Commission (MBC) released itsreport “Waves of Change” on the Boston Harbor region’s 15 public beaches in Nahant, Lynn, Revere, Winthrop, East Boston, South Boston, Dorchester, Quincy and Hull owned by the Commonwealth and managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). The MBC is Co-Chaired by Senator Tom McGee of Lynn and Representative Carlo Basile of East Boston, and is led and managed by Save the Harbor/Save the Bay.

    Copies of the Commissions report “Waves of Change” and the hearing minutes, public comments, the budget analysis and other technical reports and appendices on which the report is based are available online at 

    The Commission held ten hearings at the State House and in each of the region’s waterfront neighborhoods and beachfront communities to examine the progress made on these beaches since it released its first report in 2007. “The investments we have made on these beaches strengthen our communities and the economy, improve people’s lives and demonstrate that government can work,” said Senator Tom McGee of Lynn, who Co-Chairs the Commission.

    The report identifies a number of continuing challenges and opportunities that need to be addressed to move these beaches from good to great. These include staffing levels at the beaches, which increased after 2007, but declined in recent years to the point where the Commission believes “that the beaches will inevitably reenter a cycle of decline, undermining the progress that has been made and failing to meet public expectations, as was the case before 2007”.

    “The Commonwealth’s investments in the Boston Harbor cleanup, the Boston Harbor Islands and our region’s public beaches have already resulted in dramatic improvements in the quality of life for residents in Boston and the region’s coastal communities,” said MBC Commissioner Paul Grogan, President and CEO of The Boston Foundation. “To protect those investments we must continue to find ways to fund the incremental changes that are necessary to further improve our beaches.”

    Much of the Commissions effort in 2007 and again in 2013 has focused on the basic issues of beach management, maintenance and programming. To address these challenges and take full advantage of new opportunities will take continued independent oversight by the Commission. It will also take additional funds for capital projects, new equipment and continued investment in improved water quality to meet the growing need of the more than one million people who live within a short drive or ride to the beach.

    Other key challenges and opportunities identified in the report include: water quality and beach flagging, coastal resiliency and sea level rise, water transportation, improved information technology and management systems, parking and public safety, dog management and piping plover nesting areas. The Commission also called for DCR to invest additional funds to support free events and programs that are so important enhancing the public’s enjoyment of the beaches.

    “Local friends groups and Save the Harbor have helped jumpstart free events on these beaches, but government has a responsibility to provide direct financial support of these volunteer efforts to make them sustainable,” said David Spillane of the award winning planning firm Goody Clancy, who helped Save the Harbor manage the hearings and produce the report.

    The Commission recommends that DCRs budget for full-time operations and seasonal staffing be increased by $3.5 million per year, and that the DCR make at least $190,000 per year available in matching grants to beach friends groups in waterfront neighborhoods and beachfront communities to support free events and programs.

    According to Bruce Berman of Save the Harbor/Save the Bay, the non-profit who helped lead and manage the inquiry and author the report, “These beaches contribute directly to the competitiveness of our region, making our cities and beachfront communities better places to live and work. Moreover, the combined economic impact of millions of residents enjoying these beaches also makes them important economic engines for the regions waterfront neighborhoods and beachfront communities, creating new jobs and economic opportunity.”

    The regions public beaches, like Constitution Beach in East Boston, are much more than a great place to spend the day,” said Representative Carlo Basile of East Boston, who Co-Chairs the Commission. “They are portals to the environment, remarkable recreational resources with the potential to improve the quality of life for all our residents.”

    The Commission would like to thank the nearly 1,000 people who took part in the hearings and helped to shape the findings and recommendations contained in their report. 

    Copies of the Commissions report “Waves of Change” and the hearing minutes, public comments, the budget analysis and other technical reports and appendices on which the report is based are available online at

    About the Metropolitan Beaches Commission
    The Metropolitan Beaches Commission was created in 2006 by the Massachusetts Legislature to take an in-depth look at the metropolitan region’s public beaches in Nahant, Lynn, Revere, Winthrop, East Boston, South Boston, Dorchester, Quincy and Hull that are managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation. You can download a copy of their 2014 report “Waves of Change” at

    Co-chaired by Senator Tom McGee of Lynn and Representative Carlo Basile of East Boston the Commission reconvened in 2013 to examine the impacts of the reforms and recommendations made in its first report and issue additional findings and recommendations to better leverage these resources for residents in the future. The MBC is comprised of 22 elected officials and community, civic, nonprofit, and business leaders from Boston and the metropolitan region's waterfront neighborhoods and beachfront communities. It is led and managed by Save the Harbor/Save the Bay. 

    For more information, visit