In July and August, we conducted our SCUBA dive surveys on Muscle Ridge and Ocean Point. Our goals were to document juvenile and adult densities and to collect individual scallops for tissue samples for genetics and the shells for a growth rate analysis. For the first time ever, we completed our dive days by the end of August!! In past years, we’ve had to do dive surveys through the fall and even as late as November 29th, so this was a very welcomed change and speaks to the field team we had in place. In mid-September, three technicians from Dr. Stokesbury’s lab at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s School for Marine Science & Technology traveled to Maine to do three days of drop camera work. They were able to take photographs at all of the stations that were sampled last year and Bailey learned how to work the winch on the scallop boat, F/V Julianne. On September 22, we deployed our Muscle Ridge spat bags, these in addition to four lines on Ocean Point at the end of August. Looking forward to more spat in 2017!
The drop camera surveys were supported with funding from the Patagonia Retail Store in Freeport. The staff from the store also got to come to Hurricane Island over two days this Summer to volunteer their time to help with the project. During that time, we were able to process a number of the shell samples we’ve collected over the years as well as work through some of our spat bags from 2015. They were an incredible help and I think enjoyed their time on the island. We were so thankful for that funding opportunity and wehope they’ll come back next year!
Bailey, Jessie and I engaged 90 students participating in nine different Hurricane Island education programs in the Scallop Project, either through processing shell samples or spat bags. In addition, we hosted 80 people in partnership with the Vinalhaven Land Trust for a morning on Hurricane where they learned about the Scallop Project as well as other initiatives. These were great ways to get the word out about our project!
Currently, I am working on analyzing data from the past four years and reviewing papers that talk about the effect of closed areas on target species. We hope to understand what the effect of the closure has been to date and whether or not we should plan to continue monitoring both the Muscle Ridge and Ocean Point closed areas. Jessie decided to take on a portion of the analysis as an independent project and possibly an honors thesis this year at Colby. Specifically, she is working on analyzing data from our spat bags.
The Stokesbury crew is busy analyzing data from the drop camera surveys and Sarah Kingston, a post doctoral fellow at Bowdoin College, has agreed to start the initial genetic analysis. Stay tuned for a summary of results as they become available!
We continue to move forward with developing an aquaculture operation on Hurricane Island. We envision aquaculture as an opportunity to integrate our education programs with our research efforts. We renewed our Limited Purpose Aquaculture (LPA) for growing sugar kelp. Bailey and Jenn, our Director of Education, worked with students from Northport Middle School to deploy seed lines that the students had grown in their classroom at the site on Hurricane in October. We also put juvenile scallops collected in our spat bags from Muscle Ridge into two bottom cages where we hope they’ll survive the winter. Bailey and I tagged 100 individual scallops to track their growth throughout the year.
To further support our aquaculture operation, we participate in water quality and phytoplankton monitoring in partnership with the Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR). We collect a water sample and a phytoplankton sample on a bi-weekly basis from May through November and send our samples to the DMR lab in Boothbay Harbor. The water quality program, which is a state-wide effort through DMR, monitors for E. coli and the phytoplankton program monitors for biotoxins that can cause Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning and other public health-related problems. Our hope is that through this monitoring, we will be able to reclassify the waters around Hurricane to allow us to consume the species we grow through aquaculture. We will likely not have an issue with E. coli; however, harmful algal blooms could be an issue in the summer months and so, we may have to abide by seasonal closures.