Our Beach

Environmental Stewardship

Pleasure Beach is a beautiful, joyful place that magically melts our troubles away. It is a place to relax, tosocialize and to recreate. Every once in a while, it is important to remind ourselves that Beaches are dynamic places that require care and maintenance to preserve. What follows is a brief reminder of nature's creativity, and how we can support natural processes while maintaining our property.

The Long Island Sound Coastline

Many organizations and individuals study the ecosystem – the physical and biological aspects and how they interact – of Long Island Sound. These people, including Waterford Association Inc, continuously monitor the coastline and use their observations to preserve and protect our beaches and their inhabitants.

Coastlines are constantly evolving because of natural forces like wind and waves, but also from human influences likefoot traffic, construction and pollution. We have witnessed some of these changes in recent years:

  • In 2012, tidal waves from Hurricane Sandy deposited large amounts of sand on top of the backdunes on thesouth side of the beach, and moved significant volumes of sand into the parking lot.
  • In the mid-1990s, Waterford Association Inc. Members created the north dunes to prevent future erosionresulting in property loss.
  • In the last decade, water currents have flattened Kiddie Beach, creating expansive sand bars and new sand spits.
  • Over the last couple years, unknown environmental causes have led to the erosion of the Clam Pond's peat beds.

Pleasure Beach Ecosystem

Pleasure Beach is a barrier beach (sand spit, barrier spit). A barrier beach is a narrow, low-lying strip that runs parallel tothe coastline that is separated from the mainland by a narrow body of tidal wetland. Barrier beaches are formed by the accumulation of sand deposited by water currents. They have recognizable features: beach, dunes, and tidal wetland.

The beach is always in flux. It changes minute to minute. It is width and shape are carved out by the tide and waves respectively. Tides are caused by the moon's gravitational pull. High tide occurs when the moon is closest to us and low tide when the moon is farthest away. There are two tidal cycles daily. You can check to see when today's tides are occurring: visit here. Waves are created by the winds. When the wind is blowing stronger, the waves become more powerful. Powerful waves can cause destruction of beaches by erosion.

A dune is simply a hill of sand. Beachdunes are important because:

  • They act as a barrier to stormsurge and flooding
  • They provide significant wildlifehabitat
  • They act as a reservoir of sandthat nourishes eroding beachesand feeds sandbars duringstorms

Dune vegetation, the plants that grownon the dunes, are important because their root systems prevent water from washing away the sand and depositing it somewhere else. Without dunes and dune vegetation, an intense storm couldwash away the entire beach.

Dunes are constantly changing. If you walk on the beach during the winter, you have probably noticed that it seems like the beach has washed away. This is because of the seasonal fluctuations in wave action that change the shape of the beach. In the spring, the current returns sand from the offshore sandbars.

Tidal wetland, a.k.a. "The Clam Pond", "The Creek", "Blue-y Land", "The Crab Pond". Our salt marsh is a birthplace for babies and a refuge for their parents. Fish, and crabs, and birds – oh my! There are hundreds of species living on the backside of our beach. This biodiversity is the foundation of a healthy planet. Naturally, the Clam Pond is an educational "touch tank" for children and adults alike. Catching crabs and digging clams is a past time for many. While we play, it is also important that we respect the marsh and interfere as little as possible to protect the biodiversity.

Marine Biology

The following is a Common Name inventory taken in 1995 of the species diversity present at Pleasure Beach. Further information about each species can be viewed here: MarineBio

American Beachgrass
Autumn Olive
Black grass
Coast Blight
Common Blackberry
Common Evening Primrose
Common Saltwort
Common Reed/Phragmities
Dusty Miller
Early Seaside Plantain
Glasswort/Marsh Samphire
Halberd-leaved Oarch
Late seaside Plantain
Poison Ivy
Salt-marsh Fleabane
Salt-spray Rose
Seaside goldenrod
Seaside spurge
Smooth Sumac
Spike/salt grass
Water Hemlock

Wild Morning Glory
Woody Glasswort
Woody Nightshade
Virginia Creeper

Macroscopic Benthic Organisms
Atlantic Horseshoe Crab
Blue Crab
Common Periwinkle
Common Spider Crab
Fiddler Crab
Green Crab
Hermit Crab
New England Dog Whelk
Smooth Periwinkle

Finfish (various)

Common Slipper Shell
Ribbed Mussel
Soft-shelled clam

American Egrit
Bank Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Blue Jay

Common Crow
Common Grackle
Common Nighthawk
Common Tern
Common Yellowthroat
Double-crested Cormorant
Glaucus Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Great Blue Heron
Green Heron
Herring Gull
House Finch
Laughing Gull
Least Tern
Mute Swan
Red-winged Blackbird
Seaside Sparrow
Snowy Egrit
Song Sparrow
Tree Sparrow
Tree Swallow

Field Mouse
Water Rat
Garder Snake

Stewardship: Our Environmental Responsibilities

As owners and stewards of this land, we have a responsibility to minimize our environmental impact. What follows is asummary of the current environmental issues at Pleasure Beach and what we can do to help.

Beach Erosion is inevitable, but we continue to mitigate weather and usage impacts by maintaining healthy dunes. However, dune vegetation is highly sensitive to foot traffic; if walked on beach grass will die back. What you can do to help: Keep off the dunes and remind others to do the same.

Invasive species are plants and animals that originate elsewhere and adversely affect their current habitat. One particularly troublesome Pleasure Beach invasive species is phragmites. All over New England, phragmites is rapidly displacing native wetland plants, such as Cattails, which shrinks wildlife habitat and starves birds. What you can do to help: Do not pick the phragmites; doing so spreads the seeds and encourages new growth. Systematically apply herbicide with care to avoid harming native plants, animals and fish; please research the proper methods before attempting.

Hypertrophication is the detrimental addition of nitrogen and phosphate to an aquatic system. It causes overgrowth of algae which suffocates fish and other aquatic wildlife. Hypertrophication results from sewage contamination and the use of fertilizers which runoff into the aquatic environments. What you can do to help: Refrain from applying fertilizers to your lawns and gardens, especially before it rains. Keep pets and their waste off the beach. For personal needs, use the portable toilet in the parking lot.

Sudden Vegetation Dieback (SVD) happens when smooth cord grass, which grows on top of the peat beds in the Clam Pond, dies. This leads to the disintegration of the peat beds that provide shelter for species like crabs, fish and periwinkles. In recent years, the degradation of the peat beds in the Clam Pond is quiet visible, with jagged, holey edges where sold walls used to be. What you can do to help: Unfortunately, the cause of SVD is unknown. But, we can maintain what is still there. Don't walk on or jump off the peat beds, and don't pick the sea grasses that hold the beds together.

Litter and pollution. Human's biggest environmental impact continues to be pollution, especially from synthetic, non-biodegradable waste. What you can do to help: Carry out what you carry in. Recycle and use trash receptacles.

References and Continued Reading

Dune protection and restoration

Connecticut's costal management program & coastal habitat restoration

Tidal wetland & habitat restoration

Biodiversity and Marine Species database

Human impact on marine environments

Long Island Sound pollution


Invasive species

Sudden Vegetation Dieback

100+ ways to make a difference

© 2014, Annie Gourlie