A Dynamic System ~ Long Beach Island

Sunset on Barnegat Bay. Photo by Greg Molyneux.

Sunset on Barnegat Bay. Photo by Greg Molyneux.

Cross the causeway to Long Beach Island (LBI) and your senses fill up. One can’t help but take in the water view and a deep breath of salt air rising from Barnegat Bay. As LBIslanders, we get possessive about our little deposit of sand in the sea. It is our island, our Bay—and we are its guardians. LBI is a barrier island, a long, narrow piece of land, separated from the mainland by a shallow bay that parallels the coastline. Barrier islands are found mostly along the eastern coast of North America.

As a barrier island, LBI is dynamic—it is always changing. Storms and the nature of the sea have shaped this barrier island. Waves and currents remove sand from one part of the island and deposit it on another part. The constant tides transform LBI. The beach sometimes erodes and the bay sometimes fills in. Historically, great storms have had dramatic effects on the characteristics of this particular barrier island.

There is a charm and a culture to each island. Here on LBI, we have a sense of quiet casualness that dates back to early days. There is a slow pace and an appreciation for the beauty and power of nature. For all the conveniences we don’t have here, we are richly rewarded in natural amenities and peacefulness.

“We can take action to protect our island and its waters before it’s too late. Now is the time. It’s our Bay—our responsibility.”

Life is obviously seasonal on this island. In the late spring, we have the return migrations—of birds and people. In the winter, there is a kind of cocooning that occurs, when we insulate ourselves. Fewer than 9,000 people make LBI their year-round residence. With the summer heat, the number of people swells to more than 150,000 visiting the various towns that make up the Island.

As LBIslanders, we seek out familiar sights and sounds—Old Barney Lighthouse rising up in the north, the squawking of gulls all along the shores. The cool breezes remind us that we are distinct from the mainland but connected by the water. We take for granted that our glorious Bay will be there for us. But, are we there for the Bay? We all need to become aware of the challenges to the health of our Bay. With this knowledge, we can help Barnegat Bay thrive. We can take action to protect our island and its waters before it’s too late. Now is the time. It’s our Bay—our responsibility.

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