Share on Google+
Muskeget Island.

Crocker Snow, Jr.'s Muskeget Island

Crocker Snow Jr.'s fascinating book on Muskeget Island.

For those who don't know, Nantucket is a town and a county comprised of three islands. The smallest of these is Muskeget Island, registering these days at around 250 acres of sand, American beach grass, bayberry, rosa rugosa, wild flowers, low Eastern red cedar and seemingly endless snarls of poison ivy.

Owned by two; the Town of Nantucket and Crocker Snow, Jr., it is a low, barren scab of post-glacial deposits perched on terminal moraine sediments steadily wearing away into eroding waves. Shorebirds and scant land birds find respite here from the huggermugger of the bigger two islands in this mini archipelago, Nantucket and Tuckernuck Islands. Gray seals have found its isolation from humans, and hungry white sharks, to be such a perfect sanctuary that they've turned it into the second largest of their breeding colonies on the East Coast.

Formerly the site of duck and shorebird hunting shacks, a Massachusetts Humane Society lifesaving station and hundreds of feral cats, Muskeget has been and remains the fortunate Crocker Snow, Jr.'s own personal backyard island ecology observation site over the last 65 years. Snow has detailed his observations in a book released this month called "Muskeget - Raw, Restless, Relentless Island". It is one of less than half a dozen books on this island, which the National Park Service designated a National Natural Landmark in April 1980, so it deserves a thorough perusing.

Snow, the founding editor of The WorldPaper, an international monthly online newspaper providing original news and analysis from 1979 to 2001, and also a foreign correspondent from Germany and Vietnam among other countries spanning 50 years, broke the book up into 14 chapters, in three sections entitled "Species Sense", "Island Episodes" and "Sounds & Smells". Chapters have titles such as "Ode to the Muskeget Mouse", Last Camp Standing", "Nerd Scientists", "Fathers & Sons" and "Bits & Pieces," to name a few. There is an island-specific glossary, a wicked cool time lapse section of four see-through pages illustrating how this island's shape has changed 1950 to 1965 to 1991 to 2015, and a generous photos section called Muskeget Scrapbook.

I have not read this delicious piece of local natural history all the way through yet because I'm savoring every page, therefore a complete report on its contents its up to you and your hard-earned dough. Crocker's book is available at Mitchell's Book Corner at 54 Main St. on Nantucket, but is not yet on their web site.