Author Archives: SandyNeck

Turtle Stranding Begins at Sandy Neck

Kemps rainbow Blog

On Friday, November 16th 2018, staff located and recovered a stranded Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle while out on patrol at Sandy Neck Beach. The turtle was still alive and moving. Staff then transported the turtle safely back to the Gatehouse where it was transferred over to Mass Audubon staff. This turtle, nicknamed “Miracle” was recovered just as a beautiful rainbow appeared over the waters of Cape Cod Bay! The turtle will be evaluated and ultimately transported to a rehab facility for further treatment. We are hoping for a successful recovery!

Donna Rainbow Turtle Blog

Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles are critically endangered. Juvenile turtles strand this time of year on Cape Cod beaches after they become trapped in Cape Cod Bay and “cold-stun” as the waters begin to cool. If you are walking along the beaches of Cape Cod Bay this winter and find a cold stunned sea turtle, you can:

-          Move it above the high tide line. Do not put it back in the water.

-          Cover it with dry wrack or seaweed

-          Mark the spot with a piece of beach debris or draw an arrow in the sand.

Call immediately. If you are on Sandy Neck Beach, please call the Gatehouse 508-362-8300 or check-in with the Ranger on duty. Otherwise, Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary can be contacted 508-349-2615 ext. 6104 and staff can provide you with further instruction.

First Kemps! Blog

Sandy Neck Official Merchandise Holiday Sale!


Holiday sale pix

• BALL CAPS (ADULT)………..$20… SALE!
• BALL CAPS (YOUTH)…………$20
• WINTER HATS…………………$20
• GROCERY TOTE……………..$4
• SNK SKIM BOARD……………$100..SALE!
• SNK MAGNATE………………..$3
• JEEP TEE………………………$10…SALE!
• ORV TEE……………………….$10…SALE!
• SNK PINNEY…………………..$15
• 4TH OF JULY TEE…………….$5…SALE!
• SNK BOARD 18X18…………..$15
• SWEATPANTS………………..$25…SALE!
• YOUTH #1 TEE……………….$20…SALE!




On Wednesday September 26, 2018 in the Harborview Room at the Barnstable County campus, in the west wing of the old jail, twenty three AmeriCorps placements pledged:


I will get things done for America- to make our people safer,

I will bring Americans together to strengthen our communities.

Faced with apathy, I will take action.

Faced with conflict, I will seek common ground.

Faced with adversity, I will persevere.

I will carry this commitment with me this year and beyond.

I am an AmeriCorps member, and I will get things done.


AmeriCorps placements promised to maintain and improve miles of trails, paths, and waterways, and implement new programs and to positively impact our community.  They will be serving several towns and communities working  with their Shellfish Departments, Audubon sanctuaries, Land Trusts, Natural Resource Departments and the Red Cross just to mention a few.


The excitement of new beginnings and positive energy resonated hope and positivity and it could be felt throughout the room.

After learning about the mission of the Cape Cod AmeriCorps each of the placements introduced themselves, where they were from and which placement they would be servicing with.  Following placement introductions all agencies representatives introduced themselves with their names, agencies and their favorite spot on Cape Cod.


Welcoming new placements and experiencing the tremendous feelings of expectation and desire for all positive impactful things about to happen was indeed a privilege to be present to experience.


Cheers to the energy and efforts of those AmeriCorps placements, their very fortunate agencies and all the work and improvements that are about to begin.



Andrea L. Higgins

Natural Resource Officer

Town of Barnstable

Coast Sweep Success! Thank you!


A big shout out to everyone who made the Sandy Neck Beach Park 2018 Coast Sweep a huge success! We had a wonderful turnout with awesome results. There were 63 bags of trash collected with an estimated weight of 320 pounds. The volunteers collected everything from fishing gear to hundreds of cigarette butts. Plastic items were high on the list of beach trash as well as tons of rope that had washed up. We cannot stress enough how important it is to become involved in the maintaining and care of the environment and from yesterday’s showing, the message was received. Thanks to everyone who volunteered yesterday and to our friends who are out there every day, bag in hand, picking up as they go! We can only succeed together!

Thank you all!

The Staff at Sandy Neck Beach Park



Osprey Chicks Fledge at New Site on Sandy Neck!

Osprey Fledgling 12

The Osprey Pole by the Halfway House research cottage on the Sandy Neck marsh trail has been around for almost 8 years without any nesting success. This year, for the first time, not only did an Osprey pair nest at this site, they also fledged 2 chicks! These birds were observed testing out their newly acquired flight feathers and navigating around the nearby Tree Swallow nesting boxes yesterday afternoon!

Osprey Fledgling 22

What’s Keeping the Beach Closed and Why?


One of the most common questions we field this time of year, depending on Off-Road Vehicle access is “Why isn’t the ORV Beach open all the way yet?” While many people are aware of the Piping Plovers, a federally protected species of shorebird, there are actually several shorebird species that nest and fledge at Sandy Neck Beach including the Least Tern, another protected species. Depending and where and when these birds nest, certain sections of the beach may remain open or closed for different periods of time.


Both the Piping Plover and Least Terns nest in sandy and gravelly habitats between the high tide line and the toe of the primary sand dune in areas with little to no vegetation. These areas are generally highly desired locations for human recreation and can lead to conflicts of shared use.


Least Tern colonies can vary in size and location, and locations may change throughout the season due to disturbance from humans and predators, high tide inundation and other environmental factors. When Least Tern chicks hatch, they remain in the nest bowl for a few days before wandering up to 500+ feet from their original nest sight. Chicks will seek shelter in vegetation or near debris, but will begin to wander towards the shoreline as they age. Least Tern eggs and chicks are well-camouflaged and are difficult discern from the sandy/rocky habitats they are found in. Without proper protection, Least Tern eggs can be crushed by Off-Road Vehicles. Tire ruts can also create problems as chicks may become trapped within the ruts which prevents normal movements and may further expose them to negative interactions with vehicles.


Sandy Neck Shorebird Monitors work daily throughout the season to monitor these species and ensure proper compliance with both State and Federal Guidelines. This allows these rare birds the proper protection they require while at the same time allowing for recreational opportunities throughout the park. Through careful observation, proper protection and diligent monitoring, staff works hard to ensure that areas may once again re-open as soon as possible; as shorebirds begin to move, hatch and fledge. We want to thank all of our patrons for their patience and support during the season in providing these birds with proper protection, nesting and fledging opportunities.


Stay tuned-in to our Sandy Neck App for the latest updates regarding beach openings and Off-Road Vehicle access!

If you have any questions, please contact the Sandy Neck Gatehouse or speak to a Natural Resource Officer or Wildlife Monitor out on the beach!”


Earlier this month, Sandy Neck Staff discovered this mysterious object which washed ashore during an extreme high tide. Can you guess what it is?

Nick Whale Rib

2018 4th of July at Sandy Neck Beach Park!

4th of July at Sandy Neck Beach Park

The Sandy Neck Staff wishes to extend a warm welcome to everyone for the 2018 summer season at Sandy Neck Beach Park!

4th of July

With the 4th of July fast approaching we want to update you on Beach conditions. The Off Road Vehicle Beach is open .5 miles.  The speed limit is 5 MPH.  Park on the berm, 30’ from the fence line, with your headlights facing the dunes.

Campers may park with either their headlights or taillights to the dunes. We ask those campers who park with the taillights to the dunes to put their hang tags in the rear window of the camper for easy viewing! Daytrippers may park with campers. Daytripper area is well marked and no campers will be allowed to park in Daytripper area. Parking plan is available online at

The Sandy Neck Staff has been working extra hard to make this upcoming holiday a safe and successful one! In order to accommodate as many vehicles safely on the ORV (Off Road Vehicle) corridor during the peak times, Staff may assist in “stacking” vehicles during the parking process as conditions allow.

There will be NO two-wheel camper drive tests conducted from Monday, July 2nd through Sunday, July 8th.

There will be NO tow behind trailers allowed on the ORV corridor Friday, June 29th through Sunday, July 8th.

We expect a busy 4th of July Holiday and want everyone to have fun and remain safe!  A couple of reminders to help you enjoy your time here at Sandy Neck:

1. On the ORV Corridor, dogs must be leashed at all times (15′ leash or less). No dogs allowed in parking lot or on public beach. No pets are allowed past the ORV closure line.

2. Fires are allowed in designated areas starting at 7 pm (please visit our web site for more information).

3. Per State of Massachusetts Fire Marshall regulations: NO Fireworks or Sky Lanterns are allowed to be set off from any beach.

4. No vehicles can enter the park after 9pm.

5. Curfew is 11 pm. You must be out of the park by that time.


Please call the gatehouse at 508-362-8300 with any questions

Thank you for making SandyNeckBeachPark your vacation destination!

Terrapins Receive Additional Conservation Efforts at Sandy Neck Beach


For the last 12 years, the Town of Barnstable has worked hard to help protect the Diamondback Terrapin population at Sandy Neck Beach. The Diamondback Terrapin is a threatened species in the state of Massachusetts. It has been significantly impacted by both habitat loss and overharvesting throughout history.

While efforts are now in place to protect the Terrapin, it still faces many issues to this day. One of the conservation efforts in place at Sandy Neck is the Diamondback Terrapin Headstart program. Each year, a small number of nesting female terrapins deposit their eggs directly in the Marsh Trail, an area still used by some property owners to access their cottages. While these nests would otherwise be run over and destroyed, endangered species monitors are able to find these nests and relocate them to a safe location where they will be monitored until they hatch.

The hatchlings from these nests are then distributed out to schools and other organizations where they will be taken care of and raised throughout the winter. Upon release in early summer, these “headstart” Terrapins are about the size of a 3-year-old turtle in the wild, and their chance of survival is significantly higher.

While it is likely that the headstart program is having a positive impact on the Terrapin population, there has been no way to quantify these observations solely through population trends. Fortunately, through the help of Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, Sandy Neck staff was able to begin “PIT (Passive Integrated Transponder) Tagging” headstart Terrapins this year.

Each Terrapin is implanted with a small tag just under the skin of the rear leg. These tags do not require any batteries or maintenance, and will presumably stay with the animal for life. While these animal cannot be “actively” tracked through this tag, if they are seen again in the wild they can be scanned to see if there is a PIT tag inside of them. Much like a microchip for pets, these tags contain a unique ID code which will allow us to determine what year they were raised and even what classroom they were raised in. Along with additional data taken including measurements and weights, we can see how well these turtles are doing after transitioning in the wild even years into the future, should we encounter them again!

Tagging 1


We are extremely excited to continue to expand conservation efforts for the Terrapin population here at Sandy Neck, and look forward to incorporating a mark and recapture study in the future through the use of these wonderful devices.


A reminder that the Town of Barnstable’s Public Terrapin Release will be held on Monday, June 25th 2018 at 5:30pm at Sandy Neck Beach. All members of the public are invited to join us as we say our last goodbyes to a few Terrapins that were raised over the winter. We will talk more in-depth about terrapin anatomy and conservation and watch as these majestic animals make their way back into the wild in order to live out the rest of their lives!