Research at the Hurricane Island Field Station

The second video in our "Day in the Life" short film series focuses on the applied research being conducted by Hurricane Island staff (and our participants!).  Director of Research Caitlin Cleaver takes us up close and personal with the Collaborative Scallop Project, from the dock, to the boat, and even under water. Special thanks to Conservation Media Group for making this work possible and for supporting our fabulous film fellow Wilder Nicholson!

Hurricane Island, part of the Fox Islands Archipelago in Penobscot Bay, Maine is approximately 10 miles offshore from Rockland. The 125-acre island is situated at the confluence of the Eastern Maine and Western Maine Coastal Currents and the discharge from the Penobscot River to the north of the island forms a gradient of estuarine and marine habitat. To the southwest, the western Maine coastal current causes water stratification and a zone of upwelling that affects the local ecology, and there is striking diversity in the bedrock geology to the west.

Some of Hurricane’s biotic communities include:

“The waters immediately surrounding Hurricane Island are a hotspot for larval lobster settlement, with one of the highest rates of all sites sampled in Penobscot Bay. Hurricane is uniquely well positioned for research related to Maine’s $310 million dollar lobster fishery.”
— Damian Brady, Ph.D., Darling Marine Center
  • Lower elevation spruce-fir forest, cattail marsh, granite outcrops, seaside goldenrod/ goosetongue open headland, and rose/bayberry maritime shrubland.
  • The subtidal bottom habitat is rugged, high-relief seafloor, dominated by bedrock outcrops with accumulations of coarse-grained sediment in low-lying areas.
  • Our intertidal zone includes areas with dense rockweed, exposed high-impact beaches, small sand deposits, and artificially built-up granite faces from the quarrying-era. The tidal range at Hurricane is around 9.3 feet.


Embedded in Coastal and Island Communities

Hurricane sits in the heart of lobster country and thus is perfectly positioned to participate in monitoring studies and research on climate change, alterations in the Gulf of Maine ecosystem, and fisheries biology and management.

Vision for the Field Station at Valley Cove

As a component of the Hurricane Island Center for Science and Leadership, the Field Station enhances the educational community we strive to create by:

  • Providing middle school, high school, undergraduate, and graduate students with hands-on opportunities to participate in real-time data collection and research projects, to engage with scientists, and to explore field science careers;
  • Establishing research priorities that contribute to the broader scientific community in the Gulf of Maine and beyond;
  • Developing a network of partner organizations and individuals to support and grow HICSL’s research initiatives; and,
  • Expanding the facilities and services to support independent researchers at all stages of their career.

In the near future, we plan to rebuild the pier and improve the space at Valley Cove to eventually house a small wet lab and dry lab and expand our campus office and meeting spaces.