Island Updates

Deer Isle

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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Eastern Maine Skippers at the Fishermen's Forum

Every year March rolls around and fishermen, marine scientists, and industry members from along the coast of Maine gather in Rockland at the annual Fishermen's Forum. This is the 40th year this event has been running, and it is a great opportunity for everyone to connect about the major challenges and innovative ideas to address changes in Maine's fisheries.

After the fall kickoff event on Hurricane Island, the Eastern Maine Skippers Program students have been busy developing green crab project plans to implement this spring. The Fishermen's Forum was a great opportunity for all of the school groups to gather and share their project updates to the broader community. Student's from all of the schools (North Haven, Vinalhaven, Deer Isle Stonington, George Stevens Academy, Narraguagus, and Jonesport-Beals) presented on their project ideas, and the whole group will be giving a final presentation about their approach to a green crab solution on May 28th at the Grand Auditorium in Ellsworth. Below is a summary of the range of project ideas that students presented on during their slot at the forum:

North Haven students have proposed two main projects around creating fertilizer from green crabs: one group is going to determine the best ratio of green crab meal to soil for optimal growing, and the other group is going to be looking at the opportunity of green crabs as being a natural nematode suppressant and will be comparing the quantity and quality of the produce grown from corn, beans, and tomatoes that are grown with green crab added to the soil vs. their control.

Vinalhaven students have focused their efforts on testing the efficiency of traps and bait in capturing green crabs, and also on developing creative cooking ideas to make green crabs a new tasty menu item. One of the student groups is going to trial a trap used by Unity College students at a variety of depths and trying different types of bait to determine the most efficient way to harvest green crabs. Another group is attempting a new cooking method which involves a two-part process of softening the crab shell first in a vinegar brine, flavoring with teriyaki, and then smoking the crabs whole. Part of the cooking challenge will be for students to determine if there is a preferable size for the crabs which results in a soft shell and positive taste results. 

Deer Isle-Stonington High School students are banding together to assess the real impacts of green crabs by asking "How do green crabs affect the lobster industry in the waters around Deer Isle?" Students will be documenting where and in what densities they are finding green crabs, determining if green crabs eat lobsters and between what size range, if green crabs and lobsters are competing for the same food, and whether the local lobster settlement is lower because of green crabs. Students plan to collect their data using permitted ventless traps, and looking at the population ratio of green crabs to juvenile lobsters within their survey area.

George Stevens Academy students are planning to see if crushed green crab powder can be added to grass fertilizer and marketed to local golf courses like the Blue Hill Country Club. They will be testing nutrient levels in the soil with the addition of green crabs, and, if their project succeeds, look into larger distribution opportunities with their product. First, they are in the market for a dehydrator, and are waiting for the snow to melt so they can set their traps!

Narraguagus High School is planning to test three different green crab traps to determine the most cost effective and efficient design-- one used by the Department of Marine Resources (DMR) in a 1950s green crab survey, one triangular trap design, and one design they are still working on. With the help of donated supplies from Brooks Trap Mill they are going to be fishing these traps and comparing which fishes best. These students have also been surveying local community members, including wormers, clamdiggers, and gathering testimonials about the scope of the green crab problem, and its potential long-term impacts on important coastal industries.

Jonesport-Beals High School students have also been exploring compost and food opportunities for green crabs. A few highlight ideas include developing green crab rangoon, green crab cakes, green crab sushi, and a specialty green crab spice which could flavor seafood and soups--the spice would be produced by cooking, dehydrating, and grinding up green crabs into a powder! 

We were impressed with the quality of the presentations from students-- their project ideas have matured so much from the fall, and students delivered a polished presentation to a packed room! We wish the Skippers the best of luck as they launch into their projects, and hope that there will be a taste-testing opportunity during the May event to sample green crab recipes!


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