Nature & ScienceRhode Island Beaches

Salt Pond Safari

Salt Pond Safari

Each Summer, the Salt Ponds Coalition [SPC] delivers a highly popular program that introduces people of all ages to the wonders of aquatic life in Rhode Island Salt Ponds. Using a 30-foot seine net, participants wade into a salt pond to catch a variety of aquatic creatures. Kids love exploring and getting hands-on experience with salt pond ecology.

What Happens at a Salt Pond Safari?

Each Salt Pond Safari is different because one never knows what we’ll catch! That’s what makes it so interesting. During the 90-minute program everyone gets happily wet! And together we enjoy in depth conversations on salt ponds where the content shared is tailored to the ages and interests of the audience. Each Salt Pond Safari is led by SPC Executive Director Alicia Eichinger, and her team of SPC ambassadors.

Salt Pond Safari

View Salt Ponds Coalition Salt Pond Safari Summer Schedule 2017

Events are free, but due to limited group sizes, pre-registration is required at

Want to dive deeper into salt pond knowledge? Read more highlights below. Our source is an informative and detailed case study, The Ecology of Coastal Salt Ponds published by the Trustees of the Reservation for a case study conducted at Long Point Wildlife Refuge on Martha’s Vineyard.

About Salt Ponds

For thousands of years Wampanoag populations, and later, European settlers, used coastal salt ponds for sustenance. Shellfish and fish comprised a significant part of the Wampanoag diet. In the 1800s, European settlers harvested massive numbers of Striped Bass, American Eel, Smelts, and Alewife from the salt ponds. Today, American Oysters continue to be harvested from select area ponds. A wide variety of reptiles, birds and mammals feed, breed, and take refuge in and around the ponds, and the population of what you will see changes with the seasons. In recent years, recreation has become a large focus for Salt Ponds, attracting boaters, kayakers and beachcombers who have discovered their beauty.

Salt Pond SafariEcology of Salt Ponds

Coastal salt ponds and their ecology are a result of physical processes occurring over thousands of years. It’s a dynamic process influenced primarily by:

  • Sea Level Rise

  • Climate Change

  • Land-use Patterns in a Salt Pond’s Watershed.


Although they derive their name from their proximity to and relationship with the ocean, coastal salt ponds have a continuous freshwater source, through rainfall, stream flow, and groundwater flow from the watersheds. Their physical properties, therefore, vary considerably. For example, salinities can range from fresh to brackish, depending on human management practices and the size of a pond’s watershed.

Formation of Salt Ponds

The regional geology underlying the formation of the coastal salt ponds is a reflection of glacial activity that reached its peak 21,000 years ago during the ice ages, as well as more recent oceanic processes that created barrier beaches along the shores of southern New England.

Join Salt Ponds Coalition

It takes a coalition to protect the salt ponds that make Rhode Island the special place you want to be. Events are free, and donations and memberships are warmly welcomed in order to help SPC support their work monitoring and reporting on the water quality of the 6 leading salt ponds of Rhode Island, and delivering educational programs like Salt Pond Safaris to an inquiring & interested public. Thank you for your consideration and follow the link to easily make your online donation today.

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The Author

Ann Manion

Ann Manion

I discovered Green Hill, RI seeking simplicity. Our family rented a classic Rhode Island cottage on the hill for nearly 10 years. In 2015 we realized our dream to call a place here our own. I started this blog to share stories about the special people and places around Green Hill & to create an online resource of information for residents and guests of our special beach community.