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Joseph Sylvia State Beach

The Nantucket Sound shoreline of State Beach is a very popular beach for families because there is a gradual slope into deeper water and the waves are usually small. On a hot summer day, parking places along the paved parking lane adjacent to the road are mostly full by 10am. The Sengecontacket Pond shoreline is popular for walking and accessing productive shellfishing beds (you will need a town permits to harvest them).

Location: In the towns of Edgartown & Oak Bluffs along the Nantucket Sound shoreline and Sengekontacket Pond.

Size: 104.2 acres / Approximately 2 miles long

Owned by: The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Department of Conservation and Recreation

Managed by: County of Dukes County

Running the length of this two mile long beach is a state highway – an essential and very scenic transportation link between Oak Bluffs and Edgartown.

Erosion is a continual problem at the northern end of State Beach.  Here the beach is so narrow that we actually lost part of the road during Hurricane Bob in 1991.  The erosion is thought to be caused by the northernmost of the two permanent inlets connecting Sengekontacket Pond and Nantucket Sound.   Most of the erosion occurs with the combination of strong winds out of the northeast and strong ebb tides push the normal longshore currents away from the beach and further into Nantucket Sound.  This starves the downdrift beach of new sand and causes erosion south of the bridge.  Photographs showing evidence of this erosion are in the Photo Gallery (link above).
To rebuild the beach, we have had several large beach nourishment projects, the most recent of which was over the winter of 1996-1997, when 80,000 cubic yards of sand was dredged from Sengekontacket Pond and pumped onto the northern end of State Beach.  This is also when the three wooden groins were built.  Since then, the County has repeatedly surveyed 21 locations in that area.  A report summarizing these data will be available soon.  

State Beach also supports a diverse assembleage of nesting birds, including the Federally Threatened piping plover, the State Species of Special Concern least tern and the American oystercatcher.  

For more information go to Shorebirds

Fishing is a popular activity.  Striped bass are present from early May to November.  While fishing is good anywhere on the beach, bait fishing from the big bridge is normally more productive.  For night fishing the Sengekontacket Pond shoreline can be as good as the Nantucket Sound shoreline.  Bonito are present in peak numbers in July and August.  Albacore show up in mid August and stay into October.  Fishing the rising tide at the big bridge is best, and with a September or October northwest wind it can really heat up along the jetties.  This beach is great for light tackle spin fishing ahe spring and the fall. Fishing Tournament  

The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation Division of Waterways provides a grant of $30,000 per year to assist with management of the beach enabling us to tackle major projects like beach nourishment, dune restoration and universal access.

The County of Dukes County PO Box 190, Edgartown, MA 02539
Phone: 508.696.3840    Fax: 508.696.3841
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