The off-season may be quiet on the Cape and Islands, but it is a busy time for the area’s gray seals.

Sara Brown

It’s a strange twist of fate that oysters, often described as nature’s aphrodisiacs, are such funny-looking things.

Forget hunting or fishing – starting in October, gathering sweet bay scallops is where it’s at.

If all goes well, local biologists will soon be growing gold in local waters. Scientists with the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group and the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) have been breeding golden mussels, a unique-hued version of the common mussel that they hope will boost the Island’s nascent farmed mussel industry.

Sara Brown

What type of berry is safe to eat but not to plant? The answer isn’t so much a riddle as a home cook’s pro tip and a gardener’s cautionary tale. Autumn olives, small red berries with silver flecks, are abundant on the Island – too abundant, in fact. The native Asian shrubs and trees, introduced to the U.S. in the 1800s to line roadways and prevent erosion, today pose a significant threat to native foliage. In 2006 the state of Massachusetts declared it unlawful for autumn olives to be sold or replanted.

On Martha’s Vineyard, owls are found almost everywhere. But for every twenty owls you hear, you may see only one.

In the summer, volunteers on the Vineyard visit beaches under the light of a full (or darkness of a new) moon to count horseshoe crabs as they come ashore to spawn.

Horseshoe crabs – an ancient species with a mating ritual attuned to the tides – are harvested for use as bait for conch fishing, and because their blood has biomedical value. But the census counts could soon take on more urgency, with a new study showing that crabs that survive a blood donation might be impacted in other ways.

Sara Brown

Fifty years ago, Anne Hale helped found the Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary on the shores of Sengekontacket Pond in Edgartown. Twenty-six years ago she published Moraine to Marsh, a slender, spiral-bound volume that became a treasured go-to guide to the flora and fauna of the Vineyard. Hale died in 1992, and with the book out of print and the well-thumbed copies that remain in circulation showing their wear, Felix Neck undertook a major update.