Island Updates


Fryeburg Academy

Fryeburg Academy's AP Environmental Science class joined us for a fast-paced 24-hour visit! Upon arrival, the students explored Hurricane’s historical roots and sustainable systems. They then hopped on one of our boats to learn how to haul lobster traps with Oakley. The rest of the afternoon was spent with Chloe and Jacque, hiking and learning about basic botany and phenology (the study of seasonal change) in preparation for the development of a phenology focused research project.

After a tasty, fresh-caught lobster dinner and watching the nearly full moon rise over Greens Island, we headed to the lab where the students developed their research question and methods.  The students were interested in investigating if paper birch trees on the south end were further along in their phenophase (an observable stage or phase in the annual life cycle of a plant) than paper birch on the east side of the island. Early the next morning, the students were back in the lab narrowing down a procedure and then they headed out into the field to collect their data.

They split into two groups – one headed to the south end and one to the east side of the island.  Each group walked along a 60m transect. In order to randomly select paper birch trees, the students would stop every 15m along the transect and then collect data on the nearest paper birch to that stopping point.  At each tree, students quantified the color of leaves on a select number of branches as well as other data about that tree including height, circumference, and available sunlight.

Back in the lab, each group compiled their data and spent time analyzing the results, which were then presented to the Hurricane Island staff. Even in such a short amount of time, students were able to collect enough data to conclude that paper birch on the eastern side of the island were further along in their phenophase than paper birch on the south side of island.  We had a great time with the Fryeburg students and their instructor and we hope they enjoyed their whirlwind trip of Hurricane as well!

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Proctor Academy Ocean Classroom

Students from Proctor Academy’s Ocean Classroom semester program started the first leg of their journey on Hurricane where we enjoyed two days exploring the island and learning some valuable skills that students can take with them to sea as they begin their sailing voyage aboard the Schooner Roseway.

During the first part of the program we showed everyone around Hurricane’s sustainable systems and then took students on a hike around the island that revealed the foundations and other artifacts that remain from when Hurricane was an operational granite quarry town. Students looked through historical images and identified the church, town hall, and company store from the granite era. We also recently received the original organ from Hurricane’s Catholic Church back from North Haven, and students even took turns playing it and reviving some of the old sounds of the island in the 1900s.

After the history lesson, students learned about how to read nautical charts and perfected some basic knots including a bowline, slipknot, figure 8, and clove hitch. Each watch then raced to get everyone to successfully tie all of the knots and demonstrate their new skills.

Students also had a chance to explore the low-tide zone near Gibbon’s Point to get a snapshot of the type of organisms that make up rocky intertidal areas in Maine. We caught a lot of green crabs (some students dared to eat a live green crab), watched barnacles feeding in tide pools, and caught hermit crabs scampering around trying to hide among empty periwinkle shells.

We also enjoyed showing students how to use ornithology field guides and binoculars to identify seabirds. While we mostly saw herring gulls and eider ducks off Hurricane, we expect students to encounter a variety of amazing seabirds during their ocean voyage. We also talked about how seabirds are adapted to survive in the ocean environment.

Finally, we discussed Maine’s commercial fisheries and how important the lobster industry is to the economy of Maine’s coastal communities. We took a look at the data from this past year’s fishing season from the Maine Department of Marine Resources, and students learned about the history of some of Maine’s other historically important fisheries including the cod fishery and the scallop fishery. Students learned about how Maine manages and regulates fisheries to try and avoid overharvesting different species, and we discussed the challenges of trying to manage species that have complicated and not fully understood life histories and behaviors. Students also had a chance to see how lobster fishing works in action by going out on the boat with Oakley to watch him haul his recreational lobster traps. We got enough lobster to enjoy a lobster dinner that night, followed by a birthday celebration!

We wish students fair seas and strong winds during their next adventure on Roseway headed towards the Caribbean, and you can follow along with their trip’s progress at the school’s blog.

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Pathways 101 Deer Isle-Stonington High School

We had a great time working with students from Deer Isle-Stonington High School’s Pathways 101 program: an introductory course that is focused on developing core skills so students understand the project-based learning principles that guide the Marine Studies Pathway and the Arts Pathway programs at the high school.

Students started the program with a discussion about how they operate in groups and the constructive and destructive behaviors that individuals can bring to the table to hold group work back or help group work move forward.

Students then took on two small design challenges where they competed to build the tallest tower using just 1 meter of tape, 10 pieces of spaghetti, and a marshmallow. They also worked as a group to design aluminum foil boats to hold the most rocks while still remaining buoyant in a tub of water. Both of these activities were an opportunity for students to learn how to work as a group towards a common goal, and figure out their individual strengths within the group.

Afterwards we shifted gears to talk about the issue of marine debris in our oceans. We discussed the sources of marine debris, how long it takes to degrade in the marine environment, and how marine debris can harm marine organisms through ingestion and entanglement.

The group then split into two teams, and we recorded data on marine debris we collected from along Hurricane’s shoreline. Between the two groups we collected over 400 pieces of trash ranging from pieces of fishing debris (buoys, line, and bait strapping ties) to household waste like plastic bottles and food wrappers. One group even returned with a full tire!

The next challenge was for the groups to design a sculpture using the marine debris they collected to communicate a message about some aspect of why marine debris is a problem. Students got inspired by looking at examples of how other artists have tackled the problem including Chris Jordan and Angela Pozzi.

After planning their art projects to include the materials they would use, the message they were trying to communicate, and the design they were planning to implement, students spent the whole morning on the second day working as a group to develop their marine debris sculptures.

One group chose to make a lobster that was choked up with fishing debris, showing that trash generated by the lobster industry can impact the health of the resource it is trying to harvest. The other group built a series of marine organisms entangled in marine debris including some fish made out of plastic bottles with a comb for a dorsal fin, and a seagull made out of bottles and a Styrofoam cup.

We enjoyed working with students to complete their projects and were impressed by how quickly they learned to work together as a team. This program is part of their formative assessment on group work, and we look forward to seeing the product from their summative assessment! We also appreciate their enthusiasm and dedication to help us keep Hurricane’s coastline clean!

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Brookwood School 6th Grade

Sixth grade students from Brookwood School in Manchester, MA joined us on Hurricane for a fun-filled 24-hour program (September 17-18, 2015) that helped students kick off their school year as new members of the upper school. We enjoyed showing students some of our favorite parts of the Island and also took advantage of early fall by harvesting apples from Hurricanes trees to make cider.

Other highlights from the program involved a full-group exploration of the low tide area between Hurricane Island and Two Bush Island. Students left few places unexplored and found all sorts of exciting invertebrates including baby lobsters, sea urchins, tunicates, and we also found some lumpfish!

We spent the rest of the program with students in smaller groups rotating to different stations where they learned about maps, the forest ecosystem, Maine’s lobster fishery, and how Hurricane operates off the grid.

At the mapping station, students learned the parts of a map and how different maps communicate different messages. Making their own maps of their advisors classroom, students learned the importance of clear symbols, legends and scale bars in painting a picture of a foreign land. Students then collaborated and got creative as they worked to create a map of their Journey to Hurricane. This activity gave the students a chance to think about where their journey started, what were important landmarks and how best to communicate what this journey meant to them and they did it as a team!

Students also explored Hurricane's forest ecosystem starting with granite.  They learned about primary succession and how soil came to be on Hurricane.  Then we talked about how different types of plants would have arrived to Hurricane and how we can learn about a lot about a forest through tree rings.  After that, we discussed ways wildlife impact the forest and looked for wildlife tracks and scats. Finally, we created a Hurricane forest food web as a team and connected common species of Hurricane to each other based on habitat and diet requirements.  Each student was a different species and became directly or indirectly connected to one another through the web so that when one student moved, everyone moved.

During our lobster explorations, students were challenged to draw lobsters only from hearing their classmates describe them. We then talked about how important the lobster industry is to the State of Maine, making up 78% of Maine’s fisheries income last year and how different fisheries have been important to Maine historically. Students took a look at the collapse of the cod industry, and got a snapshot of how global ocean warming and acidification will impact the Gulf of Maine. Students also had a chance to go see our recreational lobster traps get hauled up and more about the mechanics of lobster fishing. There was also some time for students to jig for fish off the dock—where we caught and released a few pollock and mackerel.

At the sustainability stations, we learned about Hurricane’s off-the-grid campus and students also had a chance to really think about what sustainability means. In ecology, sustainability is the capacity to endure; it is how biological systems remain diverse and productive indefinitely. To pursue sustainability is to create and maintain the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony to support present and future generations. Part of understanding sustainability involves looking at how previous communities on Hurricane functioned: students learned about the human history on the island, form the quarrying era, to Outward Bound and then to our current use of the island. We talked about how each community acquired essential needs (food, water, energy, and shelter) and how we can learn from the past about how we want to live and operate on Hurricane. We also discussed our water system and how we pump and distribute water and where the water ends up after it is goes down the drain, then we talked about food and the cycle of growing food to eating and composting. Some students helped plant beds of hearty spinach and kale in Hurricanes garden that we will enjoy as the season gets chillier out on the island. We finished by talking about solar electricity and the solar thermal system, and the difference between using generators run by fossil fuels vs. photovoltaic panels and the different between the inputs of materials for each.

We had a great time with Brookwood and we hope to see students and classes back out on Hurricane in the future!

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Living on the Edge Jr 2015

Post by Olivia and Jacque, Program Leads

Learning about bees with Sam, click to see the full photo gallery from the program.

Learning about bees with Sam, click to see the full photo gallery from the program.

Last Monday, our final program of the summer began. Eight middle school students stepped off the boat beaming with excitement to spend a week on Hurricane Island. The first day was spent exploring the island on a history hike and sustainable systems tour, while eating plenty of raspberries along the way. The students even practiced using a model derrick, a human-powered crane used to move blocks of granite during the quarry era. The rest of the day was spent learning about what it means to be a naturalist and learning how to use tools such as the microscope, hand lens, and binoculars.

Tuesday started off in the lab, where we discussed the basic anatomy of insects and which kinds of insects are pollinators. This led into the next portion of the morning: a field trip to the South End to see Sam’s honey bees! Sam explained to us the three types of honeybees, how the hive is built, and the steps worker bees take to produce honey. We even tried some fresh honey straight from one of the combs! After seeing the bees up close, we raced back to the lab to grab nets and jars to collect our own bugs. The students headed up to the church and shower house, where they found butterflies and a few large spiders as well as plenty of grasshoppers to chase.  Students then drew insects from our own bug collection, and used watercolor to bring the illustrations to life.  After a morning on land, we loaded up on the sailboat in the afternoon and hit the water.  While there wasn’t too much wind, there was plenty of sunshine and laughter aboard the boat. While sailing, we practiced our knots and caught a glimpse of the seals using our binoculars. The group sailed over to neighboring Greens Island to explore turtle rock and some of the beaches. After dinner that night, we took off for Gibbon’s Point to have our evening meeting while the sun set in the distance.

Wednesday morning was devoted to botany and searching the island for edible plants. Before we set out to hike the perimeter, we went over basic plant parts and ways to group plants to make them easier to identify. This prepped us to look for all the plants we could nibble on as we walked. The students learned to identify many types of trees, shrubs, flowers and ferns, and were brave enough to try any and all of the edibles that were presented to them.  Afterwards, we foraged for beach rose, red clover, and raspberries around the island. We then headed to the kitchen, where we whipped up a simple syrup and a raspberry chocolate crumble bars for a lunch time dessert. During free time, we all jumped off the pier and then went fishing off the pier. The afternoon was spent rock climbing in the quarry. Students had a blast challenging themselves to climb different routes on the main face. That night, we fished for squid off the dock (perhaps a Hurricane first!). Although we were not successful catching squid, we played with the bioluminescent plankton in the water. Certain types of plankton utilize chemicals to produce light as a defense mechanism at night. Some plankton even squirt globs of bioluminescent goo to confuse their predators. By moving the water around, you get front row seats to a magical display of lights!

Thursday began with an intertidal exploration at Two Bush Island. Back at the lab, we took a closer look at our intertidal finds, which included a tiny lobster and a very cute lumpfish. We also used delicate species of algae to make colorful seaweed art that students took home with them. Chloe joined us in the afternoon to teach us all about bird adaptations and the kinds of birds we have here on the island. The students learned how different shape and size adaptations make some birds great at swimming while others eat insects on trees! We quietly walked along the shoreline to spot a few sea birds, while also practicing our bird calls. Chloe then challenged us to build a nest that could withstand wind, water and hurricane conditions. Our last night was spent around a warm campfire, where we enjoyed s’mores and sang campfire songs.

The morning of our final day was spent painting birdhouses that were built by previous HICSL students. The students worked in teams to decorate each birdhouse, which will soon be installed around the island. Following our art activity in the morning, the students took off with Olivia and Jacque to tackle a scavenger hunt. We raced around the island in search of hidden clues that brought us to our final riddle: Boomer, our island dog! Saying goodbye to this group was tough, as their enthusiasm for exploring and love for learning was contagious. This group had us laughing, dancing, and singing all week. We hope everyone has a wonderful final stretch of summer and start to the school year!

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Wilderness Advanced Life Support

This is the second year we have hosted a Wilderness Advanced Life Support (WALS) certification course on Hurricane. We were joined by a talented group of participants with backgrounds ranging from emergency nurses to an anesthesiologist. One of the most challenging aspects of this course for participants is that they are no longer in a familiar resource-and-expertise-rich hospital environment, and have to improvise with the medical bag they brought to the scene, trying to stabilize a situation without much outside support and working with a real time delay until they can evacuate their patient to definitive medical care. 

Olivia, Alice and Chloe get into character before the final evening scenario

One of my favorite parts of this course is that Hurricane staff get to help out and act as patients during full-group scenarios. During the final evening scenario we got moulage to simulate our bruising and open wounds, and we were also given a laundry list of symptoms and afflictions ranging from a dislocated patella to a traumatic brain injury (TBI) to an amputated hand. Covered in fake blood and strewn across the field, we waited to be approached by the response team. You can learn a lot about emergency situations by participating in a scenario-- it was incredible to hear how the team communicated information about their patients, worked out an evacuation plan, and triaged the situation. They worked calmly and efficiently, and recognized each others expertise in certain areas, passing stabilized patients off to one another in order to fully attend to the more extreme injuries. 

Everyone on the course was up to the challenge and got out of their comfort zone to learn a new set of skills and apply their medical knowledge to dealing with emergencies in a wilderness setting. We are looking forward to more WALs programs, and hope to see everyone who participated back out on Hurricane Island in the future!

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Living on the Edge 2015

Post by Olivia Lukacic and Chloe Tremper, Program Leads

We were living on the edge this week - exploring all that Hurricane Island has to offer with five awesome middle school students! For the week of August 9-15, we honed our naturalist skills and furthered our understanding of marine and terrestrial ecosystems through lots of art and exploration. The students arrived on a beautiful, sunny Hurricane day and were only on island for an hour or so before our first brave pier jumper took the plunge into the icy Atlantic! The rest of the day was filled with the always fun history hike with a sustainability twist as well as team building games.

Our first full day as a group started off with a bang! Chloe started the day off teaching about bird adaptations and introducing some of Hurricane’s most common bird species. We looked at what types of wings, beaks, and feet shapes would be best suitable for a variety of conditions, challenged each other to a nest building challenge to see whose nest could withstand the most weight, and played a hilarious game of "here I am, where are you." This game is all about trying to find your partner with a pre-determined call while you are both blindfolded and music is blasting all around. We realized how hard it could be for birds to communicate in their environment and how their songs may be adapted to their environment, while also entertaining some of the HIF staff and visitors. In the afternoon, we went with Jacque into the intertidal to learn about how animals and plants adapt in a constantly changing marine environment. We found amazing things at Two Bush Island including brittle stars, sea stars, hermit crabs, three varieties of other crabs, sea urchins, seas sponge, tunicates, and four lumpfish! We brought our species back to the lab to use our observation skills to draw the creatures and look at them under the microscope.

Tuesday was a botany bonanza! We started off with an island perimeter hike to learn how to identify plants in the field and we also collected plants that caught our eye. Back in the lab, we learned how to use field guides - this involved racing to identify plants using the dichotomous key in Newcomb's Wildflower Guide and a tree-detective game that challenged students to describe plants with proper botany vocabulary and match up mystery species to tress listed in The Forest Trees of Maine. The afternoon was our first day of rock climbing! The students learned how to belay and get used to climbing before moving to the big wall. Once at the big wall, the students were climbing machines – completing some of the most challenging climbs with ease!  After climbing, we stayed at the rock face for a little bit and collected lichens and mosses to take back to the lab and learn about.

Students build birdhouses. Click through for more photos from the program.

Students build birdhouses. Click through for more photos from the program.

Due to some foggy, wet, and windless weather our planned sailing day on Wednesday turned into an awesome art and building day! The students started off the day building and painting their own bird boxes. These weren’t your run of the mill bird boxes, however - these have a plexiglass back that allow the students to observe the nest building process. Each student constructed, painted, and took home their bird box.  Most of the plexiglass was painted over to give the birds’ privacy with viewing holes left unpainted.  The rest of the day was spent exploring the world of bugs and learning about the importance of pollinators.  We played a super fun pollinator game developed by Olivia and used watercolors to make observational drawings Hurricane’s bug collection.

The next day, after another morning of climbing, the students spend the afternoon with Josie Iselin.  Josie is the photographer, author, and designer of seven books all of which focus on the forms in nature we find at hand, especially those found at the beach. Some of her books include An Ocean Garden, Seashells, Heartstones, and Beach: A Book Of Treasure.  Upon her arrival, Josie gave a brief presentation to the students and our staff about herself and her work and then we headed into the intertidal with her to explore all of the different types of seaweed Hurricane’s coast has to offer.  We had a ton of fun holding different seaweeds up to the sun to admire their colorations and aging knotted rack by its bubbles!

The last full day of Living on the Edge consisted of a morning sail over to Crane Island where we picnicked and explored followed by an afternoon of individual project time! The students were given creative freedom to create a piece of art, or multiple pieces, that related to what they did and learned on Hurricane over the past week.  All the projects were AMAZING and very different from one another. Some students worked with washed up buoys from our buoy pile creating sculptures, painting them, and even decorating them with pressed flowers.  One student used leaf prints to create a backdrop for the Hurricane flag and another made a three-dimensional topographic map of Hurricane out of cardboard. 

Students finished up their projects on the final morning and then completed an island-wide scavenger hunt!  The scavenger hunt had the students running all over the island starting off near the galley, heading towards Gibbon’s Point on the north end, then back across the island to points like“the crack,” high cliffs, and the main quarry face.  The scavenger hunt ended with some HIF bumper stickers as the prize and a fun cook-out on the south end.  It was a great way to end a super fun week.  As always we hope the kids had just as much fun as we did and that we see them out on the island next year!

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Marine Biology 2015

Post by Alice and Jacque, program leads

We enjoyed a fun, jam-packed week with a great group of students exploring the marine environment in Hurricane Sound and beyond August 2-8, 2015. On their arrival day, students got oriented to the island by leaning about Hurricane’s quarry history and our current sustainable systems including our solar power array, our constructed wetland for filtering grey water, and our composting toilets. After dinner, we enjoyed a short hike to Gibbons Point to the see the sunset and enjoy each others company.

The Craftier Rafters before deploying their raft in the Ice Pond. Click through for more photos from the program

The Craftier Rafters before deploying their raft in the Ice Pond. Click through for more photos from the program

Our first full day started with a focus on lobster and scallops, two of Maine’s most important fisheries. Bailey, our scallop research intern, showed students how to collect data underwater and explained her current research processing spat (larval scallops) bags. Jacque and Jenn challenged students to use the concepts of density, water displacement and surface area when designing a series of submarines and boats. Everyone had a chance to look at lobsters up close, and learn more about the lobster fishery and about lobster biology. That afternoon, students prepared for the raft challenge by first learning useful knots with Silas and Oakley. Using just bamboo, plastic barrels, different lengths of rope, and their new knowledge of density and knot tying, students were challenged to design a raft in two hours that could successfully float them across the Ice Pond. In the end, team “Craftier Rafters” prevailed with a triangular shaped raft that students rode victoriously across the Ice Pond. The other team,  the “OG Crafty Rafters” faced some challenges with their raft, but as enjoyed working as a team shared lots of laughs and teamwork.

The morning of our second day was spent exploring the rocky intertidal near Two Bush Island and collecting critters to examine back in the lab. Despite a rainy morning, students had a blast working as a team to collect and identify the organisms they found. Using field guides, microscopes, and hand lenses, they identified a total of 27 different species including nudibranchs and waved whelks. Based on their observations of organisms and patterns in the intertidal zone, students split into three groups to formulate different questions to drive their group research projects they would conduct the next day. After lunch, students explored the challenges of underwater engineering as they constructed two Sea Perch, remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) which can move around underwater connected to a tether. Our hardworking students built all the components, including soldering together an electrical control box, making the motors for the propellers water tight, and designing a PVC frame. While two teams tackled the Sea Perch, the other group of students took Hurricane Sound by sail. While sailing, they observed sea birds and utilized map reading to navigate around our rocky coastline.

The crew after a successful morning collecting data in the intertidal at Two Bush Island

The crew after a successful morning collecting data in the intertidal at Two Bush Island

On Wednesday, each group of students set out to collect their data to support their research questions during low tide. Armed with different sized quadrats, measuring tools, and buckets, students carried out their data collection procedures that that varied from measuring and counting snails, to determining the ratio of invasive crabs to native crabs. For the rest of the morning, some students learned to rock-climb with Sam, where they strengthened their knot tying skills, learned how to safely belay one another, and challenged themselves to climbing the 60 foot rock face in the quarry. Others spent time in the lab, dissecting herring and analyzing the anatomy of a fish. We also took a closer look at plankton, and discussed why these microscopic organisms are vital for life in the ocean.

That afternoon, students built a passive drifter. This low-cost, ocean drifter is equipped with a GPS unit, and will be one of more than 1000 drifters that have been sent out to sea over the last 10 years. Drifter data, collected via satellite, are used by NOAA to track ocean currents and the movement of plankton in the Gulf of Maine. Our passive drifter, decorated with students names and the Hurricane Island logo, will soon be deployed offshore by the Rozalia Project.

An underwater view from Hector the Collector, Rachael's ROV that she uses to help pick up marine debris.

An underwater view from Hector the Collector, Rachael's ROV that she uses to help pick up marine debris.

Thursday we took a field trip to a nearby island to conduct a marine debris cleanup along the shoreline. Students looked high and low for trash of all kinds, and in just over an hour collected 563 pieces of debris! As we collected, each piece was recorded and categorized on a data sheet, which we also update into an online marine debris tracking platform. Following our cleanup, we returned to Hurricane to attend a presentation by Rachael Miller, the co-founder of the Rozalia Project. She spoke to students about the impacts of marine debris on ocean health and how they each can contribute to a cleaner ocean. After a tour of the American Promise, the Project’s 60ft sailboat, and a look at Rachael's ROV Hector the Collector, students and staff ended the night with a campfire and s’mores, and a lesson about the stars.

With binoculars in hand, students started the last full day with a hike around the island learning about sea birds and their habitat. The exploring continued with another hike to the highest point on the island. In the afternoon, students hoped aboard a local lobsterman’s boat and headed out to sea to haul traps. On the boat, we experienced a day in the life of a fisherman, as we measured the keepers, refilled bait bags, and practiced banding lobsters. Back in the lab, Alice and Jacque assisted students as they processed and analyzed their data from Wednesday's trek in the intertidal. Students made conclusions about their results, in preparation for their presentations the next day.  

On our final day, students proudly presented their intertidal projects to the Hurricane Island staff and gave insight into the ecology of life on the shoreline. The final hours on Hurricane were spent swimming, rowing in one of our gigs, and enjoying a cookout lunch on the South End. We had a fantastic time with these students and it was sad to see them go, but we hope to see them next summer or back in the future as interns on Hurricane!

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