World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Cape Cod Bay

A map showing the location of Cape Cod Bay.
Cape Cod and Cape Cod Bay from space, April 1997.
Cape Cod Bay from a beach in Dennis.

Cape Cod Bay is a large bay of the Atlantic Ocean adjacent to the U.S. state of Massachusetts. Measuring 604 square miles (1,560 km2) below a line drawn from Brant Rock in Marshfield to Race Point in Provincetown, Massachusetts, it is enclosed by Cape Cod to the south and east, and Plymouth County, Massachusetts, to the west. To the north of Cape Cod Bay lie Massachusetts Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.[1] Cape Cod Bay is the southernmost extremity of the Gulf of Maine. Cape Cod Bay is one of the bays adjacent to Massachusetts that give it the name Bay State. The others are Narragansett Bay, Buzzards Bay, and Massachusetts Bay.


  • History 1
  • Geology 2
  • Ecology 3
  • Fishing 4
  • View 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7


In 1524 the great Italian navigator Giovanni da Verrazzano was the first European to discover Cape Cod Bay, his claim proved by a map of 1529 which clearly outlined Cape Cod.[2] In 1620, the Pilgrims first sheltered in Provincetown Harbor where they signed the Mayflower Compact, the first democratic document signed in the New World.[1]


Most of Cape Cod is composed of glacially derived rocks, sands, and gravels. The last glacial period ended about 12,000 years ago. During the end of the last glaciation, Cape Cod Bay was probably a large freshwater lake with drainages across Cape Cod in places like Bass River and Orleans Harbor. The Provincetown Spit, i.e., the land north of High Head in North Truro, was formed by marine deposits over the last 5,000-8,000 years. These deposits created Provincetown Harbor, a large, bowl-shaped section of Cape Cod Bay. Generally, currents in the Bay move in a counter-clockwise fashion, moving south from Boston, to Plymouth then east and then north to Provincetown.

Since 1914, Cape Cod Bay has been connected to Buzzards Bay by the Cape Cod Canal, which divides the upper cape towns of Bourne and Sandwich.


The sea life of the bay is quite varied and healthy. Fish such as Flounder, Blue-Finned Tuna, Sand Eel and Striped Bass all call the bay home. Sea Mammals are also quite common in Cape Cod Bay such as seals, dolphins and whales.

American whaling had its start in Cape Cod Bay.[3] The Pilgrims shot at a whale unsuccessfully while they were anchored in Provincetown Harbor in 1620. Ichabod Paddock of Yarmouth introduced shore whaling to Nantucketers in 1680.[3] The North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) was considered by New England whalers to be the "right" ones to hunt, as they float when killed and often swim within sight of shore, leading rapidly to their near extinction.


Cape Cod Bay grows a lot of attention during fishing season with popular deep-sea charter boats, private boat fishing, fly fishing & whale watching. Fisherman typically fish off the coast of the South Shore (Massachusetts) and inner cape for fish such as Blue Fish, Cod, Flounder, Striped Bass, Bonito, Tuna, Mackerel, Pollock, Haddock, and even Sharks.[4]

Fishing season typically takes place between May and October. Although plenty of fisherman prefer to fish from shore rather than a boat, Massachusetts requires a Recreational Saltwater Fishing Permit for anyone 16 years of age or older.[5]

Many coastal towns have fishing piers, and boat charters that provide daily trips into Cape Cod Bay to catch fish. The most popular bait used is sea clams.


Cape Cod Bay from space

See also


  1. ^ a b Theresa Mitchell Barbo (2008). Cape Cod Bay A History of Salt and Sea. The History Press.  
  2. ^ History of Barnstable County, Massachusetts. p. 950. Retrieved 2010-08-21. 
  3. ^ a b John Braginton-Smith, Duncan Oliver. Cape Cod Shore Whaling: America's First Whalemen. Retrieved 2010-08-21. 
  4. ^ . "Deep Sea Fishing." Captain John. N.p.. Web. 6 Dec 2012. .
  5. ^ "Massachusetts Recreational Saltwater Fishing Permit." Massachusetts Saltwater. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Dec 2012.

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.