What Lives in Buzzards Bay and Is It Safe to Swim?

Whether it’s safe to swim in Buzzards Bay is among the first questions that tourists may have. This body of water, which has its shoreline in Massachusetts, is an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean.

The surrounding area is home to several wild species, and Buzzards Bay is teeming with marine life. This is all the information you need to know about the animals that live in and near Buzzards Bay, including whether swimming is safe.

What Is Buzzards Bay?

The Atlantic Ocean bay known as Buzzards Bay is next to Massachusetts. According to Britannica, the bay is 30 miles long, 5–10 miles wide, and reaches the base of the Cape Cod Peninsula. The Elizabeth Islands to the southeast and Cape Cod to the northeast encircle the bay.

Buzzards Bay is home to several small islands, such as the Elizabeth Islands, Amrita Island, and Bird Islands. There are many 19th-century lighthouses in the region, one of which is located on the tiny island of Bird Island.

Buzzards Bay’s shoreline is home to numerous fishing communities, summer resorts, and yacht clubs. It is a well-liked location for fishing, boating, and tourism. The first settlers arrived at Buzzards Bay in the seventeenth century. The name is thought to have originated from colonists mistaking local ospreys for buzzards.

Is Buzzards Bay Safe to Swim?

As per the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program, swimming is generally safe in most of the Bay’s beaches. There are 31.9 miles of “semi-public” beaches, 13.4 miles of public beaches, and 310 miles of beautiful coastline in the Bay Area.

The water on most of Buzzards Bay’s beaches is quite pure. But after a lot of rain, a few beaches usually have significant levels of fecal coliforms. These beaches are typically found next to stormwater pipes, rivers, or salt marsh channels.

According to the website, beaches are often monitored for water quality by towns on the same day each week, so unfavorable conditions in the days after a lot of rain can go unnoticed. Because of this, following a significant downpour, it is advisable to avoid swimming at certain Buzzards Bay beaches for a day or two.

Lastly, although Buzzards Bay’s waters are home to sharks and other marine animals, assaults on people—especially those that result in death—are comparatively uncommon. Let’s explore what might be found in the bay’s and its environs’ waters.

Wildlife in Buzzards Bay

Given that Buzzards Bay is a well-liked fishing location, a lot of marine species is likely to reside in this body of water. Let’s investigate a few of the most prevalent animals.

Trophy Fish

Fishing enthusiasts will find Buzzards Bay to be a pleasure, with an abundance of species to capture. Many fish inhabit Buzzards Bay, but the region’s striped bass, black sea bass, fluke, and scup are among the most sought-after species by anglers.

According to the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program, the bay is acknowledged as a highly valued resource region because of the numerous finfish species that call it home. In the spring and summer, it offers a home for fish that migrate north.

A striped bass’s color can vary; it might be black, steel blue, or pale green with dark stripes running down its flanks and silver bellies.

The Buzzards Bay Coalition, which spoke with knowledgeable angler Tom Richardson, said that starting in May, larger striped bass start to appear in shallow areas around rock piles and other bottom characteristics. Expert anglers have the opportunity to catch 50-pound striped bass!

Black sea bass, as their name implies, are typically black in appearance with a somewhat whiter belly. Richardson advises searching in slightly deeper water than that of striped bass in order to find these species. Lastly, scup and fluke are bottom-dwelling fish that are simple to catch. Shallow waters are preferred by scup, which can even be captured from land!

Baitfish and Shellfish

Buzzards Bay is also home to a variety of shellfish. They consist of mollusks/bivalves like quahogs (hard-shelled clams), bay scallops, soft-shelled clams, and oysters, as well as crustaceans like lobsters.

Smaller fish can also be found in Buzzard Bay’s many coves, inlets, and freshwater streams. Silversides, alewives, sand eels, and minnows are some of these species. Fishermen can gather these “baitfish” to use as live bait since they draw larger recreational species.

Whales, seals, and sharks

In Buzzards Bay, there are more critters than fish hiding there. The region is home to a number of shark species, including the following:

Sand tiger sharks
Spiny dogfish
Basking sharks
Great white sharks
Sandbar sharks
Thresher sharks
Smooth dogfish
Blacktip sharks
Bull sharks
Blue sharks

Additionally, Buzzards Bay is a fantastic location to see whales. There are often humpback whales in the waters of Massachusetts. Right whales from the North Atlantic may also be seen; they frequently swim in and near Cape Cod Bay and the Great South Channel. In the North Atlantic Ocean, minke whales are also frequently seen.

Finally, throughout the winter months, guests visiting Buzzards Bay can take pleasure in seal watching. The harbor seal is the most prevalent kind of seal in the region, according to the Buzzards Bay Coalition.

From October through May, these animals travel from Maine and Canada to the warmer coastal waters around Massachusetts. Because of this, Buzzards Bay’s winter months are ideal for seeing seals.

Coastal beaches and rocky shorelines are good places for wildlife observers to spot seals. They are found on Cape Cod, from Demarest Lloyd State Park near Dartmouth to Woods Hole.

Additionally, seals have been known to drag themselves onto piers and bays, including New Bedford Harbor. Gull Island is another popular location for seeing seals. Midday low tide is the ideal time to search for them.


The Buzzards Bay area is abundant with birds, as the name would imply. But the name of the bay probably originated with colonists mistaking native osprey for buzzards. It’s still possible to spot ospreys near Buzzards Bay.

In fact, during the past 50 years, there has been an amazing global rebound of these birds, according to the Buzzards Bay Coalition. This is because to less polluted fish, clearer water, and the efforts of organizations committed to creating and preserving osprey nesting habitats.

Other birds that guests may see nearby are:

American wigeon
Common eider
Common goldeneye
Greater scaup
Green-winged teal
Horned lark
Purple sandpiper
Red-breasted merganser
Snow bunting
Surf scoter
White-winged scoter

Every spring, vernal ponds appear in the surrounding forest of Buzzards Bay. Soon, salamanders and frogs will be coexisting in these seasonal wetlands.

According to Sea Coast Online, these two animals normally migrate to vernal pools in the spring to mate and lay eggs. The absence of fish, which feed on the eggs of frogs, makes the pools a perfect habitat.


The area around Buzzards Bay is home to a wide diversity of mammals. Since many mammals are having their babies in the spring, it’s one of the finest seasons to see wildlife. The Buzzards Bay region is home to foxes, and kits are born in March and May.

Mammals including deer, squirrels, rabbits, and more can be seen in places like the Great Neck Wildlife Sanctuary.

An Overview of Buzzards Bay’s Wildlife

Buzzards Bay is home to a variety of animals, including seals, whales, sharks, and fish of all sorts. Mammals like deer foxes and amphibians that breed in vernal pools can also be seen in the area. At last, the osprey and scoter populations in the air above Buzzards Bay are abundant.