Nantucket Sound is the body of water between Cape Cod and the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. It is situated at a confluence of the cold Labrador Currents and the warm Gulf Stream. This convergence creates a unique coastal habitat, representing the southern range for Northern Atlantic species and the northern range for Mid-Atlantic species. Nantucket Sound is characterized by remarkable richness of biological diversity, with habitats ranging from open sea to tidal flats, salt marshes, and estuaries. The complex networks of habitat utilization and species competition within the Sound remain an area for significant scientific research.
The Sound includes 750 square miles of water and seabed between the Cape and Islands and possesses significant marine habitat for a diversity of ecologically and economically important species. It has particular significance for several federally-protected species of wildlife and a variety of commercially and recreationally valuable fisheries. A 2003 report prepared at the request of U.S. Representative William Delahunt (MA 10th District) by the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies found that the Sound “contains significant ecological, commercial and recreational resources that have been at the heart of several past nominations for enhanced environmental protection and conservation policies within the region.”
Nantucket Sound and the waters surrounding the Cape and Islands are famous for their natural beauty and abundant, diverse, and unique wildlife. The Sound is also renowned for recreational boating and fishing, and contributes to drawing over six million visitors annually to Cape Cod and the islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. Nantucket Sound is essential to our regional economy precisely because of its natural appeal.
“The ocean and bays that surround us are perhaps our town’s most important and defining natural resource and it is these unspoiled waters that are the very essence of Cape Cod. We are a community of people drawn to the sea as sightseers, swimmers, sailors, fishermen or beachcombers. We are thankful for, and jealously seek to protect, the open space of the ocean around us. There is no other part of our community that offers more sweeping vistas, wildlife diversity and a place of refuge from the steady march of development.” — Barnstable Land Trust