Island Updates

Cambridge School of Weston

Cambridge School of Weston 2015

After towing around a fine-mesh net to collect plankton, students spent time looking into their microscopes trying to identify the critters wiggling around in their petri dishes. 

Learning about what it takes to be a lobsterman from Jason Day

Marilyn works with students in the intertidal between Hurricane and Two Bush Island to make sure their methods are supporting their driving question

For the second year in a row (read about last year's program here), the Cambridge School of Weston came out to Hurricane Island during the lowest tide cycle of May. Seven students and two staff joined the Hurricane community, conducting independent intertidal projects as well as two group projects focused on the quarry and on identifying marine zooplankton.

Students arrived on the island with lots of ideas for their independent projects, and after the first few days exploring Hurricane's rocky intertidal environment, they worked to modify their ideas into testable questions. 

Their projects ranged from observing parental care of dog whelks over their egg patches, to determining whether different species of hermit crabs preferred to be more or less roomy in their shell, to quantifying the range of shell colors in smooth periwinkles and whether that impacted the type of brown algae they were most often associated with. 

Low tide doesn't always wait for breakfast, so students had a few early days, heading out to their study sites by 6:30am! Doing field work in the intertidal can also be challenging because there is just about an hour-long window of time to gain access to your study site before the next low-tide cycle. This meant students had to have all of their scientific gear organized, and a clear plan for their sampling strategy in order to collect the data they needed each day.

Another goal of this program was for students to learn about some of the fisheries that are core to Maine's identity. We travelled out on Vinalhaven fisherman Jason Day's lobster boat to see him haul his traps, learn about the regulations in the industry, and get a sense of the ratio of lobsters that are thrown back to 'keepers.' We also spent time talking about Maine's scallop fishery with Cait Cleaver, our director of science and research. Cait shared about the research she is coordinating to look at the effectiveness of small-scale closures in managing the scallop fishery. After learning about her project, we all helped her build spat bags, which she will deploy in the fall to collect larval scallops. If larval scallops are found in or around the closed area, these data can help Cait get a sense of whether new scallops are settling in the area.

It was a pleasuring hosting this group and I am always impressed by the observations and creative questions that students generate when they have a chance to be immersed in field work! We look forward to seeing the finished reports of the projects, and for next year's group to build on the great ideas and questions from this program!

Be sure to check out the CSW blog about their experience for more photos!

Students enjoy a great view of the sun setting across the bay

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