Guest blog post by Facilities Manager Oakley Jackson
Of the many wonderful aspects of Hurricane Island I have to say that my favorite part is how closely we get to live to the elements and the marine environment. I relish the constant flux of island life. Our watery world is ever changing: tides coming and going, puffy clouds flying by, and of course the abundance of marine life that is thriving all around us. In twenty-eight years I have found that there is never a dull moment.
When I move back to my summer cabin, a mere twenty feet from the ocean’s edge, I like to think I become a sea creature again. This belief was reinforced a few mornings back as I was mentally preparing myself for an early plunge. As I made my way down to the water’s edge I noticed a sleek little mink (Neovison vison) doing the same. I was honored that my timing for a dip matched that of one of my favorite local mammals. In years past I have been lucky enough to witness mink pulling their prey up the shoreline. Amazingly they are dexterous enough not only to catch sizable lobster (Homarus americanus) and ground fish but also to drag them ashore and devour them on the rocks. The lobsters do not go out without a fight however, on several occasions I have come across body carapaces stained with the blood of their assailants.
Now is the time of year that there is no shortage of prey for mink, and humans for that matter. I have had five lobster traps set close to Hurricane’s Eastern shore since early May and only in the last few weeks have the keeper bugs started to show up in shallow waters. I get a big kick out of taking students that are new to the Maine coast out in our lobster boat, Fifth Generation, and seeing their looks of awe as a trap breaks the surface and it’s contents come into view. I have also started bringing hand lines with us when we haul and after we are done letting students drop a hook in and try their luck at catching mackerel (Scomber scombrus). We hit a school last week and were rewarded with our first catch of the season, six shimmering macki dogs! These fish were later laid out in trays and used for dissection with the oversight of one of our science educators. I am forever grateful for this slice of the Atlantic Ocean and the incredible organisms I get to share it with.