Cobscook Bay Journal

August 9, 2007

Eastport, Maine, 6 a.m.

Passamaquoddy Bay

The day dawns on Passamaquoddy Bay, a Native American name meaning “a place where pollock leap out of the water.” In the foreground, a former Eastport cannery (built 1907) now provides resting place for seagulls.

Across the bay is Campobello Island, which hosts the summer home of Franklin D. Roosevelt and an international park. Senator Edmund Muskie of Maine, was also a frequent visitor of the island.

Looking over at New Brunswick from the Motel East balcony, we are among the first in the continental U.S. to see the sunrise.

Edmunds, Maine, Friedman Field Station, 9 a.m.

Two researchers

Left: Despite the gray skies, crew members, Ken and Jorge are in good spirits as they prepare for the day ahead.


Robin Rigby of Japan discusses the sampling methodology with science teacher, JB Kavaliauskas, of Maine

Right: Robin Rigby of Japan discusses the sampling methodology with science teacher, JB Kavaliauskis, of Maine. The method used is part of the Natural Geography In Shore Areas, an international collaborative effort led by Robin to inventory and monitor biodiversity in the narrow inshore zone of the world’s oceans at depths of less than 20 meters.


Kate and Christine sport their new hats

Left: Kate and Christine sport their new hats, compliments of the Census of Marine Life.

The research will contribute to three Census projects, the Gulf of Maine Area program, the History of Marine Animal Populations, and Natural Geography In Shore Areas.

Researchers on boat

The crew’s raingear provides a splash of color on the water as the first boat heads out to Birch Island in the far background. The research boat is captained by Dr. Carl Merrill of Suffolk University who runs the Friedman Field Station each summer.

The boat is one of two that will make several trips to carry passengers and supplies to and from the research site.

Birch Island, Maine 10 a.m.

Birch Island

Only accessible by water, Birch Island is both isolated and beautiful. The jagged coastline and rocky shores are part of the scenic beauty of the Maine-New Brunswick area.

The seaweed -covered rocks serve both as a haven to many intertidal species, and a slip hazard for the human species.

Robin Rigby demonstrates how to lay out the quadrats

Above the high tide line, Robin Rigby demonstrates how to lay out the quadrats, simple squares made of plastic tubing to mark off sampling areas. The quadrats are 1 m2, 50 cm2, and 25 cm2 respectively, and represent increasing levels of sampling effort with different kinds of information collected from each.

They are placed at random points along the high, mid and low-tide transects laid while the intertidal is exposed. The same is duplicated at depths of 1, 5, and 10 m measured below the low tide line. This simple yet scientific sampling method is a trademark of the international NaGISA project or Natural Geography In Shore Areas.

Dr. Thomas Trott of Suffolk University and Dr. Gerhard Pohle of Huntsman Marine Science Center

Project leaders from the US and Canada, Dr. Thomas Trott (right) of Suffolk University and Dr. Gerhard Pohle (left) of Huntsman Marine Science Center, respectively, discuss the sampling method during a break in the rain.

Tom Trott, project leader of this History of the Near Shore study, has researched macroinvertebrates at intertidal sites along the coast of Maine for years, and Gerhard Pohle is a lead taxonomist in the region and is coordinating the Natural Geography of In Shore Areas effort in the Gulf of Maine area.

Common periwinkle, Littorina littorea, in rockweed, Ascophyllum nodosum, with barnacles, Semibalanus balanoides, and a green alga and a red crustose covering the rocks in the background.
Photo: Common periwinkle, Littorina littorea, in rockweed, Ascophyllum nodosum, with barnacles, Semibalanus balanoides, and a green alga and a red crustose covering the rocks in the background.

Rockweed (Ascophyllum nodosum) is a dominant algae found at the site and provides critical habitat for other species. Rockweed is used as a source of carrageenin, primarily as an emulsifier for food and cosmetics, and also for livestock feed and fertilizer. As a result, local harvesting has decreased intertidal rockweed habitat and possibly species diversity.

It provides critical habitat for other species, and is a source of carrageenin for human uses, primarily as an emulsifier for food and cosmetics, but also for livestock feed and fertilizer. Rockweed is harvested locally, and as a result, has resulted in decreased intertidal rockweed habitat and and possibly species diversity.


Jorge and Christina, collect seaweed samples to take back to the lab.

Jorge and Christina collect seaweed samples to take back to the lab for classification. Each sample bag is marked to correspond to the sampling point, which is linked a specific GIS location. This establishes a baseline in order to track changes over time.

Researchers can come back to this exact 50 cm2 location in years and decades to come and compare the species abundance and diversity found in 2007.