Green Harbors Project

at the University of Massachusetts Boston

Malibu Bay

Malibu Bay/Savin Hill Beach is a small bay located just a few minutes south of the UMass Boston campus.  It is a microcosm of Boston Harbor with boats, dog walkers, swimmers, and fishermen and women sharing the beach and bay with the inhabitants of the salt marsh and mud flat ecosystem. This project is a Biomimicry LivingLabs experiment promoting and linking the ecological stewardship between the local community and students. The goal of this stewardship is to find solutions for the question: how can we adapt and care for both the people and natural community in a long-term approach?


View Malibu and Savin Hill beaches/bay in a larger map

Students: Lisa Greber, Julia Frederick, Nicoletta Vianella, Alexander Etkind, Meredith Eustis, Patty Slattery

This project began in the summer of 2009 until 2013. It has assessed both the ecology of the bay and needs of local residents to see how people and ecology can best work together in a small area. The assessments to date have included an intertidal biodiversity survey, transect studies of existing salt marsh and the analysis of water and sediment quality.

We also asked the community to share their stories, including their reasons for visiting the beach, their knowledge of some of its ecology and their vision for its future.

At Malibu Bay, we are celebrating as well as doing science. GHP students participated in a beach cleanup, campfire and community meetings. We also participated in the second annual Malibu Beach Festival, sharing pictures of native plants, mud snails, snowy egret and invasive tunicates with children and adults alike. At the festival we collected people’s visions for a green Boston Harbor: cleaner water for swimming; boat rentals on the beach; more fish to come back in the harbor and beyond.

Photo credits: Malibu Beach cord grass (Spartina alterniflora): M. Eustis.