The Beach Times

The Shankpainter Pond Wildlife Sanctuary – Home of the Quaking Bog
Posted by Kinlin Grover | Monday, January 13, 2020


Quaking Bog

Provincetown is known for a lot of things, as it's an artists colony that has perhaps Cape Cod's best nightlife, and features two of the region's most popular beaches.

The town is also known for its Carnival celebration, its incredible dining scene, and the bustling atmosphere along Commercial Street.

Basically, Provincetown is a place you can head for near any Cape Cod activity, and it'll rarely disappoint.

But did you know that Provincetown is also home to the Shankpainter Pond Wildlife Sanctuary? This park is notable because it contains the world's largest quaking bog on a barrier beach system, an ecological distinction that attracts all kinds of rare plants and animals.

If you're looking to escape the bustle of Provincetown, you're only a few minutes away from the Shankpainter Pond Wildlife Sanctuary and a peaceful afternoon in nature.

What is a Quaking Bog?

So, Provincetown is home to the world's largest quaking bog on a barrier beach system, but what does this mean?

In short, a quaking bog describes any bog where layers of peat, shrubs, or other plants form on top of the water or mud. The vegetation shakes when you walk on it, hence the name quaking bog.

A barrier beach is a long, narrow beach that runs along the shoreline and provides protection to the mainland or, in this case, marshland.

The size and location of the Shank Painter Pond Wildlife Sanctuary are significant because the area provides plenty of space for wildlife to nest and eat in Provincetown.

Birds and also wildlife can spend their days near the sea before returning to the safety of the bog at night, or simply live at the marsh because of the natural protection and food sources it provides.

The Basics of the Shankpainter Pond Wildlife Sanctuary

Getting to the Shankpainter Pond Wildlife Sanctuary couldn't be easier, as it sits just north of downtown Provincetown. To reach the area, drive towards Herring Cove Beach and turn left 0.4 miles past the Pilgrim Bark Park. There is a small parking lot off the highway that leads to a trail. From there, you can get to the pond.

You can also walk to the park via a sand trail that meets with Ships Way Road in downtown Provincetown.

Overall, the park is 7.52 acres in size and open for hiking, birdwatching, and fishing. The main trail has an observation deck overlooking Shankpainter Pond, while there's also a secondary trail with a viewing bench. 

The Flora and Fauna

The area around Shankpainter Pond is often referred to as the ecological crown jewel of Provincetown because of the variety of plants and animals you'll come across there. In fact, there are even a few endangered species that call this pond home.

One such endangered species is the dragon's mouth orchid, which is a pink flower with a yellow center that you'll find throughout the park. Of course, the orchid isn't to be confused with the pink lady's slipper, a flower of particular concern that is also present in this conservation area. Other plants you'll come across include the carnivorous pitcher plant, the gold club, the bogbean, and the grasspink.

Another endangered species that lives in the Shankpainter Pond Wildlife Sanctuary is the spotted turtle. You'll also have the opportunity to see rare birds like hawks, osprey, and heron, in addition to more common birds like red-winged blackbirds, warblers, and ducks. River otters, Easter spadefoot toads, and box turtles also live here, while anglers will find largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and pickerel to catch.

Make the Most of Your Time in Provincetown

No matter what your reason for visiting P-Town might be, you'll find plenty to do throughout your stay.

Taking a quick trip up to the Shankpainter Pond Wildlife Sanctuary not only provides an escape from the bustle of Commercial Street but also allows you to see the largest quaking pond on a barrier beach system in the entire world. While that distinction isn't necessarily exciting, how often do you get the chance to see the largest anything on the planet?

Making the most of your vacation to Provincetown, Massachusetts, means exploring as seeing as much of the area as possible, and the Shankpainter Pond Wildlife Sanctuary is an excellent place to begin.



Provincetown Shankpainter Pond Wildlife Sanctuary Wildlife

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