New London Maritime Society bids on Little Gull Island

Today, the New London Maritime Society placed a $100,000 bid in with the U.S. General Services Administration to buy Little Gull Island, a small one-acre island located 12 miles from New London and seven miles from New York. Save the Sound worked with the New London Maritime Society over the past several weeks to secure funding for the bid from several organizations including the Quebec-Labrador Foundation, The Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut, and several other anonymous donors.

Little Gull Island as seen from Great Gull Island

Little Gull Island is one of three islands that make up the Plum-Gull Islands Complex, a Long Island Sound Stewardship Site as recognized by the Long Island Sound Study.  According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Little Gull Island has excellent potential to support nesting seabirds in the future given its proximity to Great Gull Island, home to the largest federally endangered roseate tern colony in North America.

Little Gull Island is in a critical foraging area for roseate and least terns; the management and protection of this island will contribute toward the larger island protection effort in this part of Long Island Sound.

Roseate terns

The island also boasts a grey seal rookery, its shoreline providing prime habitat for the seals nesting area.

Grey seal hookery on Little Gull Island

Little Gull Island is most prominently known for the lighthouse that sits on the island. The original lighthouse went into use in 1806; a newer one was constructed in 1867 and is still standing today.

1869 Little Gull lighthouse with its original dwelling
Photo: U.S. Coast Guard

In 2009, the Coast Guard identified properties that they deemed in excess, Little Gull Island being named one of them. The island was offered originally at no cost to eligible entities under the provisions of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000. No qualified organization was found to assume ownership and now the island will be auctioned off in the next several days.

If today’s bid from the New London Maritime Society is accepted, the New London Maritime Society will manage the preservation of the Little Gull lighthouse and will work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to potentially manage the wildlife property.

The public auction closes tomorrow, but bidding among registered bidders may continue for several more days. The New London Maritime Society has set up an online fundraising campaign for others interested in donating to the bid for Little Gull Island. Contributions can be made online here or directly to the New London Maritime Society.

You can read more about the Little Gull Island sale in this recent article by the New London Day.

Posted by Rebecca Kaplan, director of communications for CFE/Save the Sound

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