Narragansett Bay


Opponents of mandatory HPV vaccinations want the Rhode Island General Assembly to stop requiring the vaccines for all seventh graders. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay wonders if  politicians should be allowed to interfere in medical decisions.

John Bender / RIPR

Upper Narragansett Bay is cleaner than it used to be. That’s according to the latest data from the Narragansett Bay Commission.

Robin Angliss / NOAA

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration plans to continue to monitor daily the three beluga whales exploring Narragansett Bay. Biologists want to make sure they return safely back to their Arctic habitat.

Three beluga whales spotted in Narragansett Bay are healthy adult males, likely from the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Canada. 

(Video courtesy of Matt Jarbeau)

In what Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management chief Janet Coit says is an effort to protect the striper fishery, DEM today filed new regulations for the recreational striped bass fishery for the 2015 fishing season.

The new rules set a bag limit of one striped bass per person per day, at a 28-inch minimum size, down from a daily limit of two fish per person last season. On the commercial side, the regulations will remain the same as last year – five fish per vessel per day, with a 34 inch minimum. But the commercial quota will be reduced by 25 percent.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Rhode Island is among 15 states whose shellfish industry is at long-term economic risk from the effects of ocean acidification. That’s according to new study funded by the National Science Foundation.


State legislators have introduced a resolution that would create a special commission to study the effects of ocean acidification on Rhode Island.

The world’s oceans are becoming increasingly acidic from all the carbon dioxide we’re dumping into them. Important habitats and fisheries, like shellfish, are rapidly degrading in many parts of the world due to ocean’s changing chemistry.

Courtesy Save The Bay

Seals from Maine and the Atlantic Provinces of Canada start migrating to Narragansett Bay in October. But February is one of the best months for seal watching in Narragansett Bay. That’s when the number of migrating seals peaks, ranging between 300-500. 


A new bill introduced at the general assembly could ban the use of plastic bags across the state.  It’s the latest attempt to ban plastic bags in the last several years.

The bill would gradually phase out the use of plastic bags over the course of two years at retail stores such as grocery, and convenience stores.  Over the past three years similar bills have some received public support, but failed in the General Assembly.  

Rose Island Lighthouse Foundation

Scientists are embarking upon a major campaign to get wild heron back on Rose Island.  Over the last decade the birds have disappeared from the island which sits between Newport and Jamestown in Narragansett Bay. .

Some 300 hundred pair of heron nested on the island until the mid-2000’s.  That number has dwindled to zero. The island’s caretakers think human activity, and environmental changes are to blame.   They’re fundraising to bring the birds back.  Rick Best is a spokesman for the Rhode Island Lighthouse Foundation.

What happens in the deep seafloor, west of Costa Rica, may unlock some mysteries about what happens in Narragansett Bay.

A biology professor at Brown University recently dove in the submersible Alvin, operated by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and owned by the U.S. Navy, to collect samples of microbes from openings in the Pacific sea floor, from where heated water flows. These seafloor openings are known as hydrothermal vents.

Jeremy Rich said he wants to better understand how fast microbes grow here.

U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse says the new climate change deal between the U.S. and China is good news for Rhode Island.  

The U.S. is committing to reducing carbon emissions 28 percent by 2025.

Whitehouse sais though Rhode Island is not a major carbon polluting state, it’s already feeling the effects of climate change. “Particularly with rising sea levels, Narragansett Bay is 3 to 4 degrees warmer, the winter flounder catch has virtually collapsed,” said Whitehouse.

Providence Business News Editor Mark Murphy joins Rhode Island Public Radio's Dave Fallon for our weekly business segment The Bottom Line.

This week Dave and Mark talk with Kent Dresser, executive director of the nonprofit “Clean Bays”. He’s a licensed captain experienced in marine salvage and towing. They discuss the challenges to clearing old wrecks and pilings that lurk along the bay. The removal is one step toward reviving the waterfront in Providence and East Providence.

When to Listen

You can hear The Bottom Line each Friday at 5:50pm.

Catherine Welch / RIPR

In our series One Square Mile we're exploring Narragansett Bay: what's lurking in the bay, its rich natural resources, how it affects the state's economy and the lives lived on the bay.  One of those lives is that of a tour guide who for years has delighted ferry passengers with fascinating stories of the many lighthouses in and around the bay.  

At Quonset Point, the ferry called The Ava Pearl idles along the dock as passengers line up to board. A man with a shock of white hair stands near the front of the line.

One Square Mile: Kayaking Narragansett Bay

Oct 10, 2014
Catherine Welch / RIPR

All this week we’re looking we’re looking at one of the Ocean State’s most visible resources: Narragansett Bay, with a series we call One Square Mile. There are plenty of ways for residents and tourists alike to get out onto the water: sailboats, surfboards, even jet skis.  

Rhode Island Public Radio’s John Bender went kayaking to get a feel for why people choose to pick up the paddle.