Island Updates

summer 2015

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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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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Summer Flies

Post by Oakely Jackson, Program Instructor

We have been wrapped up in the bustle of summer for several months now. The peak of the season has been marked by a full harbor, a dock jam-packed with tenders and pleasure cruisers and the island alive with plants and programs.  As the so called “Mayor of Hurricane” (I am honored Bob) I have been keeping track of the comings and goings of the island and playing host to the masses, which have been as many as fifty people at times.  That many individuals can sure go through a lot of TP, water and Goldfish. We are kept busy raking the composting toilets flat, filling our beloved blue water jugs on Vinalhaven, and keeping enough vittles on the table.

Our dishes have been supplemented with greens and veggies from our gardens.  The straw bale garden is over-flowing with squash, cucumbers, broccoli and green tomatoes.  The berries are also in season and most guests leave the island with raspberry stained fingers.  We now have a hive of honey bees on the island and the multitude of wildflowers are constantly being plundered of their pollen. In order to provide the bees with a greater variety of options we put in a new flower garden between the flywheel and Sam’s cabin.  Although we have out-witted the deer (I have seen several does and a buck this summer) with our new and improved fencing, we opted to not fence the flowers and there has been a lot of nibbling going on… R.I.P. sunflowers.

Even with plenty of summer left, I am getting the sense that things are starting to wind down. With only a few summer programs to go and the interns leaving soon it is sad to admit that another season is coming to a close.  In the three years I have been on Hurricane, for the first time this summer it has felt like we truly have a functioning community with enough people to run the island and the type of team cohesion that gets you excited to go to morning meeting. A major role in any community is the cook, and Micah brought us all together in the galley, both with the production of food and the sharing of meals. Micah is a techno-crazed magician who can produce the most scrumptious food while never missing a beat. Micah is now off to another island, this time in the Bahamas, and we are left to wonder when the next time we will eat beans out of a pressure cooker will be. You will be missed dearly Bean King, go forth and prosper!

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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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Field Naturalist on Hurricane this Summer

We are excited to have a field naturalist joining us this year as part of the University of Vermont's Master's program. For his master’s project, Ben will be working on Hurricane Island for the 2015 summer season, completing an ecological inventory and asking some prodding questions about the role of fungi, lichens, and other small critters in the overall ecology of the island. 

Ben grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina, a city that is somewhere between mountains and coast, small town and big city, old-timey and new-fangled. Although deeply attached to his homeland, Ben happily shipped off to the Pacific Northwest for undergraduate studies at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. In college, Ben took the notion of "broadening your horizons" as literally as possible, traveling to India, banding birds in Mexico and Oregon, and sailing the Oregon coast aboard a tall ship as part of his studies. After graduating with a BA in international studies and a BS in environmental science, Ben returned to Ahmedabad, India, where he interned at an arts-for-social-change academy for a year: writing grants, gaining some web design know-how, and occasionally walking on stilts or singing a few lines in Hindi, as the day required. Returning to Charlotte, Ben did some freelance graphic design, helped start a yoga studio, and worked on the front lines of the budding vegan culinary scene in town. 

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2015 Summer Interns

We are excited to have finalized the team for our summer season on Hurricane Island! Our summer interns will arrive in late June and help with the delivery of our middle and high school summer programs. They are an integral part of our community and we are looking forward to having them on the island. Stay tuned for updates from our interns about programs on the island, research, and more!

Jacqueline Rosa - Science & Experiential Education Intern

Originally from Connecticut, Jacque earned her degree in Marine Science from the University of Maine. During her time at UMaine, she spent a summer working at the Darling Marine Center (DMC) while completing her capstone research on the American lobster. Jacque then participated in the DMC's Semester by the Sea program. After graduating, she moved to California to work as a Marine Science Instructor at Catalina Island Marine Institute. She is passionate about helping kids gain environmental awareness and is excited to be back on the beautiful coast of Maine (and finally eat lobster again!).  

Olivia Lukacic - Science Education Intern

Olivia was born and raised in Massachusetts, but has now fallen in love with Vermont while attending the University of Vermont for the past three years. Studying environmental science and forestry has allowed her to critically look at the space around her with greater understanding. Although she spends classroom time daydreaming about being outside, she hopes to work to combine education and the environment to inspire the younger generation of scientists! While at school she spends many of her mornings on the Lamoille River watching the sunrise as a member of the women's rowing team. Waking up in the dark is tricky, but she would not trade the unique perspective on the river for anything. When Olivia is not rowing, she loves hiking, climbing, exploring, as well as reading and cooking! During winter, which is in her top two favorite seasons, she loves cross country skiing, snowshoeing, sledding and making paper snowflakes. Her love for the outdoors began while growing up on conservation land and she continues to be curious about everything that goes on around her, and particularly loves swapping knowledge about the natural world with others. Olivia's family spent many summers camping on the coast of Maine and she cannot wait to live on the Island this summer!  

Bailey Moritz - Scallop Research Intern

Though a proud Seattleite at heart, Bailey is currently a junior studying Earth & Oceanographic Science and Environmental Studies at Bowdoin College in Maine. Last summer she was on campus researching ocean acidification in a clam flat and getting covered in mud. In hopes of improving her Spanish skills, she went abroad on an ecology and marine conservation program in Panama, living with home stay families, researching Caribbean spiny lobster, and eating lots of plantains. Interested in the interaction of society and marine resources, she hopes to pursue fisheries science in the future. After becoming a leader for the Bowdoin Outing Club, she tries to spend most weekends exploring some corner of Maine by foot, canoe, or white water raft. Scuba diving has been her favorite activity since high school and inspired an awe and passion for the underwater world, which she loves to learn more about and share with others. Whenever she has free time, she plays percussion in a Middle Eastern Ensemble and can't pass up a good round of board games. 

Silas Rogers - Sustainability Intern

Silas grew up in the foothills of western Maine, but finds himself at home on Maine’s coast, and on the water. He is currently enrolled at The Apprenticeshop, a school for traditional boatbuilding in Rockland, Maine, for a two-year apprenticeship. There, he is honing his skills as a woodworker, building and restoring wooden boats. 

Silas enjoys activities such as biking, skiing, rowing, and sailing. Another of his favorite pastimes is playing music. He has been part of many music groups over the years, playing a mixture of instruments including fiddle and guitar, and hopes to bring music to the island this summer.

Excited to be a part of the Hurricane Island family, Silas is full of enthusiasm and energy, guided toward understanding and improving the island systems. He is always ready to take on a challenge, especially if it is hands-on. 

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