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The Changing Shape of the Cape & Islands: West Falmouth Harbor, Chapoquoit Beach & Black Beach

Editor’s note: This is the 17th in a series of articles covering the region’s dramatically changing coastline. Click here to see all of the articles.

West Falmouth Harbor Chapoquoit Beach  Black Beach

Photo courtesy of the Falmouth Museums on the Green

The town of Falmouth has 70 miles of coastline and a total of 14 harbors. In West Falmouth, at about the halfway point of the town’s Buzzards Bay coastline, one comes to West Falmouth Harbor, an attractive spot that sees a good amount of boat traffic. The harbor flows into a series of smaller inland harbors including the Outer, Mid, and South Basins, Old Field Cove, and Snug Harbor. The harbor has one access channel, which is protected by a 700-foot breakwater extending from Little Island at the north side of the entrance and a short jetty stretching the southerly Chapoquoit Point, commonly referred to as Chapoquoit Island.

Falmouth Harbormaster Gregg Fraser says West Falmouth Harbor is a unique spot. “It’s one of our larger harbors,” he says. “There’s a newly refurbished town pier, a dinghy dock, and a shallow draft boat ramp there. It’s also one of the few harbors in town that still has a healthy eelgrass presence.”

The harbor and the Great Sippewissett Marsh, a large tidal salt marsh to the south, are sheltered from Buzzards Bay by a 1.6-mile beach system consisting of Chapoquoit Beach to the north and Black Beach to the south. In this article, we look at how erosion and the continual movement of sediment along the coast have affected both the beaches and the harbor—and what continued loss of beach might mean down the road.

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