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Photographer's Note

Gay Head Cliffs provide an evolving natural palette
By Jo-Ann Taylor - August 10, 2006

At the edges of our lives, the sea pounds on the shore, and the shore stands guard against the sea's assault. Or does it? The Vineyard littoral has changed repeatedly and significantly over time. It is changing still. The Times asked Jo-Ann Taylor, a coastal planner, to describe and illustrate the changing Island shores, in monthly illustrated installments.

On May 24, 1602 the brightly colored cliffs at the Western end of Martha's Vineyard provided a notable landmark for English explorer Bartholomew Gosnold, who dubbed the cape Dover Cliff after the famed landmark of his homeland. According to The History of Martha's Vineyard Volume II by Dr. Charles E. Banks, the name did not survive Gosnold's journal and some time before 1662 the English took to calling it Gay Head "as descriptive of the gaily colored cliffs seen from the west when approaching the island from the sea."

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