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Why East Gloucester's Seine Field is Quintessential Cape Ann

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Things to Do on Cape Ann

​Seine Field is a tranquil open plot of conservation land nestled into East Gloucester, off Farrington Avenue. Managed by the Essex Greenbelt as part of its chain of conservation lands, the field is is a type of ecosystem called “Open Heath” or "Relic Sandplain Grassland”.

Accordng to the Greenbelt's website:

"Relic Sandplain Grassland occurs primarily near the coast on flat plains consisting of glacial outwash. They are essentially treeless communities dominated by native grasses and plants with sparse shrubs and patches of bare soil and lichen."

Apparently, this type of land was once very common throughout New England, but has become a rarity. Land development ate up much of our naturally flat open areas over the centuries, so it’s nice to know that this lovely spot is being preserved. 

Another interesting tidbit about the field is the name, which has deep roots in Gloucester's fishing history and culture. For over a century, local fisherman used the field to dry their large nets ("seines") in the sun and make any necessary repairs. Purse-seine fishing has been around longer than anyone alive can remember, and the seine boats (and their crews) are iconic around here. Seine fishery has been immortalized by artists and photographers for generations and is also celebrated in local traditions such as the annual Seine Boat Races held every June during St. Peter's Fiesta.

Seine Boats, Gloucester -- Emile Gruppe (1896-1978)


Protection of Fisheries -- Charles Allan Winter (1869 – 1942). Part of a series of (WPA-Era Murals at Gloucester City Hall.) Photo Credit: Peter Williams / Museum Services


Seiners in a Fog Bank -- Dennis Poirier (1954 -- )


Seine Boat Rows By (Scene from the Fiesta of St. Peter, 2012) Photo Credit: Jay Albert


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