Shifting Sands at Cape May’s Cove – A Tale of Two Beaches 2015

Cape May, NJ – If you haven’t been in Cape May since early autumn,  you’ll be surprised when you make the trek over to Cove Beach. It’s grown.

Just a month ago, the October Nor’easter with its fierce, 60 mile per hour winds and waves battered Cape May and other East Coast beaches.  Now, where once there was ocean water or jetty rocks, there’s sand. Lots of it.

Even in November, beach chairs line up along one of the new dunes, each claiming their share of the new beach.

Along with the extra sand, the Cove now has its own tide pool as well – a shallow inlet of sea water surrounded by the beach on all sides when the tide is low.

Everything changes when the tide starts coming in.

Portions of the huge expanse of beach slowly start to disappear under the advancing waves, even during a relatively minor high tide.

The tide covers much of the exposed sand along the west end of the Cove. Footsteps in the sand are washed away and the beach narrows.

Continue walking toward Cape May Point and the sandy area narrows even more.

Along this stretch of beach, six foot high walls of sand have been chiseled by the wind and waves. Best to see them at low tide.

The abrupt drop offs mark the line in the sand where the ocean meets the ever more fragile Cape May Meadows, a natural area that hosts migrating birds.  In some spots, only the wiry roots of the dune plants are keeping the sand wall in place.

A major beach replenishment project by the Army Corps of Engineers shored up the Cape May Meadows beach in 2013 after Hurricane Sandy decimated it. Tons of sand were deposited to smooth out the ragged beach.

Now, as high tide approaches, this narrow stretch of beach slowly disappears under the rising ocean water.

Shifting sands are a way of life at the Jersey shore.

Sometimes we lose some sand and sometimes we get lucky.

How long that transient sand at the other end of the Cove sticks around and where it goes next is anyone’s best guess.


About Jane Kashlak

Jane Kashlak is a journalist, a gardener and a Cape Island resident. She's also Cape May Times' photographer. She founded Cape May Times after a long and lively career in TV news.