P.O. Box 235, Friendship, ME 04547 (207) 832-8224 www.lobsters.org
November 18, 1999
Dear Volunteers and Friends of The Lobster Conservancy,As you've probably noticed, our newsletter has been expanding as TLC grows. There is so much we wish to share with you about the volunteer monitoring program, establishing the Friendship Lobster Laboratory, and other goings on. We are trying a slightly different format this time to make it easier for you to skim through and get to the parts that most interest you. "Friendship News" includes what's happening at the island lab and the mainland office in Friendship, Maine. "Juvenile Lobster Research News" summarizes recent findings based on our long-term monitoring program surveying the abundance and distribution of recently settled and early juvenile lobsters. "Outreach and Education News" includes upcoming and ongoing events in which we participate. And, finally, "Gifts that Support our Research" summarizes fund raising ideas and successes.
Friendship Lobster Laboratory
November marks Diane's sixth month living and working on location at the Friendship Lobster Laboratory. Progress on converting the Friendship Long Island lobster pound to a research facility has been extraordinarily successful (see photos).
We are happy to report that we are now ready to close the gates of the pound dam to corral the lobsters! Scientists from the National Marine Fisheries Service laboratory in Woods Hole have donated pit tags for us to mark the lobsters that we'll trap inside for behavioral and ecological studies. The local lobstermen and previous pound keepers have been extremely helpful in offering advice about the mysterious workings and quirks of lobster pounds! Thanks, guys we couldn't do it without you.
We have also been forming new collaborations with researchers interested in lobster pound projects. Dr. Michael Tlusty from the New England Aquarium came out and took core samples last weekend to ascertain the health of the bottom sediments.
Friendship Long Island is a much quieter place this time of year. Only a few visitors made it out to the pound this fall. Sara's brother Mark brought Suzanne, Devon, Jordan and Christina Ellis all the way from Ottawa, Canada. They helped out around the pound, ate a lovely picnic, and took a walk to the historic granite quarry on the island. Intertidal volunteers Al Stewart and Bobbi Costello came up from New Hampshire to check out the new facility, too.
Friendship Mainland Headquarters
Nancy Appel Boothby of Waldoboro has continued volunteering part-time in the office. She has sent out updates to most of our Adopt-a-Lobster "parents." Many thanks to parents and donors who have sent in further contributions to help support our research.
Home-schoolers Trevor and Molly Sibley visited TLC's office to learn about lobsters. Photo by Donna Sibley.
In September, Donna Sibley brought her children Trevor and Molly to visit TLC's office. These home schoolers were interested in learning about marine organisms, especially lobsters. Sara gave them a quick tour and answered their questions about lobster biology. They even bought lobsters and tried eating them for the first time. However, Trevor wrote back to say he didn't really like eating lobster after all. So that will leave more for the rest of us!
Juvenile Lobster Research News
The Lobster Conservancy's first scientific research publication entitled "Method for assessing relative abundance, size distribution and growth of recently settled and early juvenile lobsters (Homarus americanus) in the lower intertidal zone" appeared this month in the Journal of Crustacean Biology, Volume 19, pp. 738-751!
Although research at Lowell's Cove continues year round, the volunteer sampling season has come to an end for 1999. By October, there were 43 people regularly monitoring 25 sites from Penobscot Bay, Maine to coastal New Hampshire. A million thanks to all of you for going out at crazy times of the day and braving all sorts of weather to collect information on lobster nursery grounds around New England. This concludes the 5th year that The Lobster Conservancy has been coordinating volunteer-based research. Our goal is to continue into the new millennium, maintaining current study sites and adding new sites in Casco Bay, southern Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.
The last of this century's data is trickling in, and Diane and Sara are busy analyzing and summarizing the information. For a preview, see our final report on the Penobscot Bay work at Island Institute's web site, www.islandinstitute.org/penbay/tlc99.pdf.
September and October surveys at Lowell's Cove uncovered a great abundance of recently settled and young-of-the-year lobsters. Helpers included Polly Wilson and Anne Barrett of Portland and Peter Milholland of Friends of Casco Bay. We are exploring ways to involve FOCB and their volunteers next year as we spread the monitoring program to cover more survey sites.
Polly Wilson (right) and Anne Barrett have been helping Diane survey Lowell's Cove. Photo by Diane Cowan.
Seven years and 9,000 tags later, November 1999 marks the last month during which Diane will tag lobsters at Lowell's Cove. Tagged lobsters will continue to be recaptured during monthly surveys. The last of the tags were purchased thanks to the financial support of Maine/New Hampshire Sea Grant and the University of Maine's Lobster Institute.
Long-time volunteers Amy Watson, Corie Bibber, Pat Masonheimer, Kathy, Ned and Kristin Osolin, and Chris Heinig all finished up another year's sampling throughout Harpswell. We'll be putting their data together over the winter.
Amy Watson found this tiny 5th stager at Cundy's Harbor in September. Photo by T.G. Watson.
Southern Maine and New Hampshire
Our newest volunteer, Enid White, was trained in the fine art of searching for juvenile lobsters on September 16 using artificial light in the pre-dawn wee hours! Searching was about as far as Enid and Diane got they only managed to find one lobster. In spite of this, Enid continued searching the area in October in hopes of finding a more suitable site. Thus far, however, the juvenile lobsters of York, Maine remain elusive. They must be out there somewhere!
Al Stewart and Bobbi Costello finished up a second season of sampling at Odiorne Point State Park, New Hampshire. Throughout the season, Al and Bobbi explored the coast of New Hampshire and southern Maine for sites that new volunteers can monitor next year.
Diane scouted out a new site on Friendship Long Island and hit pay dirt on October 28! Not only were there abundant settlers Diane witnessed a predation event. It was a dark night as she came up on a pair of glowing yellow eyes. Reaching the ledge, Diane could see that the rather enormous raccoon had bisected a young lobster (approximately three years old) and was eating it. She and Sara plan to establish transects at the new site during the November spring tides.
By October, there were 29 volunteers monitoring 18 intertidal sites around Pen Bay. Our final report on TLC's part of the Penobscot Bay Lobster Collaborative 1998/1999 has been submitted to the Island Institute. It will soon be posted on our web site. In the meantime you can read the report on the Island Institute's web site at www.islandinstitute.org/penbay/tlc99.pdf. While you're at it, check out the smiling faces of most of the Pen Bay volunteers at (http://www.islandinstitute.org/penbay/tlc.htm).
Outreach and Education News
Since April 1999, Diane has been publishing a monthly column in Commercial Fisheries News called "Ask the Lobster Doc." The articles convey health and handling tips to industry participants. These will soon be available on our web page for all to read.
The press has covered TLC several times over the last few months. Two articles in the Courier-Gazette discussed our arrival in Friendship and Diane's public presentation there. The November issue of Working Waterfront recognized Julia Deitz for her work as a summer intern for the Island Institute and TLC. All articles about TLC will be posted on the press page of our web site (http://www.lobsters.org/press/press.php), so take a peek periodically.
Gifts that Support our Research
As the holiday season approaches, you may be searching for unique gifts that support a good cause. Look no further! The Lobster Conservancy can offer some ideas. Our Adopt-a-Lobster program continues to be a popular gift. Lobsters' "parents" receive a certificate of adoption, a description of their lobsters, color photos of representative lobsters, and periodic updates. For more information visit our web site, or contact us directly by phone or mail.
TLC also sells caps that sport a red lobster, plus the words "The Lobster Conservancy, Friendship, Maine." We have a few of the original Orr's Island hats, which have become a limited-edition collector's item! The price for hats is $20 ($15 plus $5 shipping and handling).
Placemats are the newest items in our gift collection. The placements are color photographs on 11" by 16" laminated card stock. They make a novel addition to any table and work well as posters too. There are two images to choose from: a live lobster that is half blue/half regular coloration, and a close-up of a lobster's face in living color. The price for placemats by mail is $4 each, plus $1.50 shipping and handling.
Thanks once again to all the volunteers who made our research possible this year. We wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season.
Yours in TLC and Friendship,
Sara Ellis, Executive Director and Diane Cowan, Senior Scientist