Park Alert

End of public ferry season: As of October 9, regular public ferry service to the Boston Harbor Islands has ended for the season. Visit the calendar page for information about off-season cruises and programs.


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Islands in Literature

Image courtesy by photograph Chuck Hicks 



Come here, children.

Let me put your thoughts

into words.


Breathe deep,

taste the air—

moist with mangrove spice

and tidal decay.


One day

when you smell that smell

you will remember my words

and this day.


Listen, children.

Listen to the wind—

Do you hear it singing

through the driftwood?

Lonely sailors mistook it

for a siren’s song.


Look, children.

The bright yellow sargassum

floating in from the deep.

Pick it up.

Gently. Gently.

Now hold it over your hand

and watch the life fall out.


Remember, children:

we are no less fragile

than these tiny creatures.


Now, children, see the sea

with its peacock feather colors

and white veins of sand

which turn green at the flats

and then blue at the reef

and purple in the deep.


Know that I, too, will one day

flow into the deep—

but my words, dear children,

will live on in your mouth.

~ Sean Bloomfield,


In 1965 the great scientist EO Wilson conducted an experiment on a small mangrove island in the Florida Keys. At that time biologists were curious how an ecosystem, once completely destroyed, could regenerate. Much attention had been paid to the islands around the volcano Krakatoa in Indonesia which in a two-day eruption (26-27 August 1883), destroyed all flora and fauna on adjacent islands. However, within months, life came back until within a period of time the islands once again showed a fully functional ecosystem. Wilson theorized that the regeneration of an ecosystem must adhere to a mathematical formula.

After working with biologists and a mathematics friend to do a complete survey of flora and fauna on a small mangrove islands in the Florida Keys ( Wilson would point out that there were literally thousands of these islands in the vicinity) , he hired a fumigator to completely enclose the island and fumigate it, thus killing all flora and fauna. Once that was done, he began to observe – over weeks and months as the island totally regenerated. The species were not all the ones which had been exterminated but they corresponded in size and number to those that were once there.

Working with his friend the mathematician, Wilson set up the formula for the creation of an ecosystem. Does anyone remember the Star Trek movie with the Geneses “bomb” to create life on a “dead” planet? I wonder if they were thinking of his formula.

This poem is an ode to the mangrove island which gave all its life for science .

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