Located where the Oyster Creek joins the Barnegat Bay, Sands Point Harbor Preserve has been utilized and enjoyed for thousands of years. Oyster Creek, some say, is named for the prehistoric midden of oyster shells piled at the river mouth. Sea stories tell of the shells piled high enough to be noted from a sailing ship in the bay. Today the shell pile has lost its visual prominence to passing boaters, and to some goes unnoticed. But its quiet story shares themes of our Native American ancestors, geologic sea level chronology, ecological processes, shellfish and marine life. Archeologists have determined that for untold generations Late Archaic through Late Woodland Indian cultures gathered, roasted, dried and processed the oysters for food. Thousands of years ago, when these oceans where much more shallow, Indians gathered the very large oysters from areas now miles out into the ocean. It’s hard to imagine what this region looked like to those Indians. Today, we know this area is an important ecological transition from upland maritime forest of pines, to wet woods of sweet gum and red maple, and blending from high salt marsh to the shores of the Barnegat Bay.
Parking at the end of Bay Parkway allows visitors to enjoy the easy walk along the bay front. Here they discover treasures from sea glass to sea shells. Most other areas of the Preserve are much too wet for hikers. We ask that visitors respect the archeological significance of the oyster shell midden and not remove the shells or disturb the surroundings. No hunting is permitted.