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.

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.

Last summer, signs on Vineyard beaches warned swimmers about Portuguese man-of-wars, the brightly colored siphonophores that deliver a painful sting. And anyone who has spent much time in the water in the summer is probably familiar with the big, pink jellyfish and the small harmless moon jellies of August. But there is a new gelatinous menace lurking in Vineyard ponds, largely unknown and barely visible. 

Sara Brown

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Wild Thing: Blueberries

(Vaccinium corymbosum,Vaccinium angustifolium)

Blueberries won’t ripen until June (at least), but spring is the perfect time to scout locations. The plants have small white or pink bell-shaped flowers that make them easy to identify. If you find a good stash, take note, and then keep quiet. Wild blueberries are in high demand.

Wild Thing: Oysters

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

Wild Thing: Bay Scallops

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

Oceanography: Holy Blond Bivalves, Batman!

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.

Wild Thing: Autumn Olive

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.

Island of the Owls

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

Oceanography: Those Old Vineyard Blue Bloods

In the summer, volunteers on the Vineyard visit beaches under the light of the moon to count horseshoe crabs as they come ashore to spawn.

Pinkletink? Beetlebung? Clam?

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.

Oceanography: New Jelly? No Thanks

Last summer, signs on Vineyard beaches warned swimmers about Portuguese man-of-wars, the brightly colored siphonophores that deliver a painful sting. And anyone who has spent much time in the water in the summer is probably familiar with the big, pink jellyfish and the small harmless moon jellies of August. But there is a new gelatinous menace lurking in Vineyard ponds, largely unknown and barely visible. 

Tracking Island Otters

It was an otherwise quiet Vineyard night – the water calmly lapped the shore, the grasses rustled in a light breeze.

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