An Adventure Under The Strawberry Moon – Samantha Ayala

Greetings to all! I hope your summers are going well from whatever corner of the world you’re in right now, and I hope you’re all taking care of yourselves, both physically and mentally.

A brief preface- what exactly is a Strawberry Moon? (I asked myself the same thing!) The Strawberry Moon marks the last supermoon of 2021 and it happened on the 24th of June this year. Why is it called the Strawberry Moon? This is because the moon typically falls around the harvesting season of strawberries, and from some places in the world, it has a pinkish-reddish hue to it.

For this special moon, Fire Island National Seashore had a Strawberry Moon Hike to the breach from the Wilderness Visitors Center. Some more background- Fire Island used to be connected continuously from end to end, but following Hurricane Sandy in 2012, a breach was created by the force of the storm that cut the island. This breach is a great example of the constant change of Fire Island as well as the increasing severity of storms with climate change. The breach has remained untouched and Fire Island National Seashore is simply letting nature take its course, although it does seem that naturally the breach is filling in a little bit. The hike from the Wilderness Visitors Center is about 1.7 miles.

Photo of the Wilderness Breach in November 2012 (Credit: Stony Brook Great South Bay Project)
Photo of the Wilderness Breach in March 2021 (Credit: Stony Brook Great South Bay Project)

On the way, we managed to see some piping plovers! Piping plovers are endangered shorebirds that nest on the shores of Fire Island. Recently, a few nests hatched and we saw plovers hiding up in the dunes. They’re so small, I had to take a photo through my binoculars!

Piping plover on the beach

While it was cloudy and we didn’t get to see the moon, we did get to see the most gorgeous sunset on the beach. The walk to the breach was well worth the hike through the sand and the high tide soaking our shoes- the view was amazing! In the water, you could see horseshoe crabs mating. Their mating season is coming to an end, and they tend to be most active during the full moon and the new moon.

The Wilderness Breach
Two horseshoe crabs mating

My favorite part of the hike came near the end. We were walking back, and the sky over the ocean seemed treacherous, almost as if a storm was coming with how dark it was. I would have never expected to see a small rainbow there, let alone a double rainbow! Everyone on the hike was so surprised, we all stopped for a moment before taking photos to take it all in- the rainbow peeking through and growing more and more apparent through the clouds, almost feeling like a metaphor for the last year and a half.

The rainbow beginning to make its appearance in the sky
Double rainbow under the sunset!

The Strawberry Moon hike has by far been one of my favorite programs. While I have visited the Wilderness area and hiked to the breach before, it feels like this experience showed me even more of the beauty at Fire Island, something I experience everyday at all of the various sites at my park!

I hope that you’re all doing well- remember to stay cool, drink water, and continue having a great summer!

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