Cape Cod is only some 18,000 years old in geologic time, but its history includes a vast collection of people, places and events, most from a time long faded into memory. From the beginning of its creation to the foundation of its National Seashore, Cape Cod is one of the forbearers of our national heritage.
Cape Cod National Seashore includes over 2500 acres of historically diked salt marshes, 35% of the Massachusetts total, and including some of the biggest diked marshes in the Gulf of Maine. Work continues, in cooperation with other agencies and private groups, to restore these degraded estuaries.
Cape Cod is a large peninsula extending 60 miles into the Atlantic ocean from the coast of Massachusetts. Located on the outer portion of the Cape, Cape Cod National Seashore’s 44,600 acres encompass a rich mosaic of marine, estuarine, fresh water, and terrestrial ecosystems. These systems and their associated habitats reflect the Cape’s glacial origin, dynamic natural processes, and at least 9,000 years of human activity. Geomorphic shoreline change, ground water fluctuations, tidal dynamics including rising sea level, and atmospheric deposition are among the many physical processes that continue to shape the Seashore’s ecosystems. Marine and estuarine systems include beaches, sand spits, tidal flats, salt marshes, and soft-bottom benthos. Freshwater ecosystems include kettle ponds, vernal pools, sphagnum bogs, and swamps. Terrestrial systems include pitch pine and scrub oak forests, heathlands, dunes, and sandplain grasslands. Many of these habitats are globally uncommon and the species that occupy them are correspondingly rare.