Island Updates

Proctor Academy

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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Proctor Academy Kicks off Ocean Semester Program

We were joined by a great group of students from Proctor Academy on Hurricane from September 16-22 as they kicked off their Ocean term. After leaving Hurricane, they will be departing on the Schooner Roseway to continue their academics under sail, with a final destination of Puerto Rico.

HIF instructor Oakley explains how lobster traps work, and the culture of the lobster industry

HIF instructor Oakley explains how lobster traps work, and the culture of the lobster industry

Students spent time on Hurricane learning about Maine's rocky intertidal zone and lobster industry from HIF educators, they were also were in charge of cooking their own meals, learning how to work as a team, and take initiative as leaders in the program. Students enjoyed several rock-climbing sessions on our granite quarry face, and Ocean staff took students out on hikes around the island, students also spent time learning about maritime history and building the leather-bound journals they are going to use for the rest of the trip. We always enjoy having Proctor students out to the island, and we wish them safe travels and fair seas on the second leg of their adventure!

Here is a poem one of the Proctor students wrote while out on Hurricane:

A student shows off a lobster he banded.

A student shows off a lobster he banded.

A House Beside the Water

Heaven seems a little closer
In a house beside the water.
Where seabirds fly
And foghorns cry
And white sails float and wander.
With waves that splash
And tides that crash
Against the rocks and clutter.
Creating the sound
Of those who have found
Hurricane’s solemn harbor.

They have come to explore,
To love and adore
All that the island can offer.
But did not expect
To gain the respect
Of a lifetime’s work of wonder.

And so I now
Must steer around
To face the other corner.
But I’ll never forget
The time I have spent
At this house beside the water.

Kyle Heller
Proctor Fall 2014
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Proctor Academy Mountain Classroom

Procotor Academy’s (Andover, NH) Mountain Classroom program (10 students, 2 faculty) came out to Hurricane Island May 16-22, 2013 to finish up their cross-country trip investigating fisheries and food systems from California to Maine.  Students spent the first part of their stay on Hurricane completing their independent culminating projects, projects that covered a range of topics including herbalism, codfish, and shifts in the symbolism of coyotes across Native American tribes.

After listening to some fantastic project presentations, we transitioned into exploring the world of the Maine lobster fishery, and on May 20th we dedicated the day to talking about lobster biology, how the fishery is managed, and the events that set the stage for Maine’s current lucrative lobster monoculture. We then used this knowledge to frame a conversation about recent shifts the lobster industry has seen: plummeting lobster prices, concerns with increasing water temperature affecting lobster survival, shedding patterns, and settlement in the Gulf of Maine, and concerns about the long-term sustainability of lobstering as the primary occupation in coastal communities.

After a break for lunch, we transitioned to looking at some of Hurricane Island’s research and demonstration traps, discussing how they work, and different construction restrictions lobstermen have to follow so they avoid ghost fishing if their traps are lost. Proctor students helped us paint our new lobster buoys (see image below) for our additional traps which will be used this summer. 

Part of our afternoon was also spent hiking around Hurricane collecting trash that has washed up in the intertidal.  We collected 5 contractor bags of mostly buoys, rope, empty Clorox bottles, and soda bottles. Given the number of traps in the water, it was not surprising that a high percentage of the marine debris we found were associated with the lobster industry.

The next morning, we traveled to Vinalhaven and spent the morning talking with different community members about their experiences in the lobster industry and learned a little bit about the culture and flavor of a piece of Maine’s working waterfront.

We then regrouped for lunch and met with Doug Littlefield from the Vinalhaven Co-op, one of the oldest Maine lobster buying Co-ops (Est. 1974).  Doug explained more about the cost of doing business as a lobstermen, and helped us wrap our heads around the thousands of pounds of bait distributed from this facility and thousands of pounds of lobster coming into Carvers Harbor.  We also met with Tristian Jackson who is part of a group working to form a new IAM lobstering union, Emily Lane, who spoke about challenges and strategies in marketing Maine lobster, and finished off the day with a trip out on lobsterman Jason Day’s (F/V Alexander Gabriel) to watch him haul a few lobster traps. That evening we warmed up from a chilly and wet day with a Maine lobster dinner.

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