Editors note: This fall COA students were awarded 5 of the 10 Maine Sea Grant Undergraduate Scholarships for 2020, along with students from Maine Maritime Academy, University of New England (UNE), and Saint Joseph’s College of Maine. These students represent some of the variety that our students have in their projects and interests. I asked one of them, Kiernan Crough, to compile some notes from each of the awardees. Below is his compliation. – Chris Petersen
Olivia Jolley (‘21) Since arriving at COA, my interest in marine studies has grown in unexpected ways. My passion for marine species has grown from sharks and a few other groups to include invertebrates and algae, microorganisms and marine mammals, and the marine environment itself.
Through courses like Fisheries, Fishermen, and Fishing Communities, I have studied management systems governing marine resources and the challenges they face as well as the value of marine life to the culture and livelihoods of coastal communities, especially here in Maine. I am intrigued by the relationships of people and places and species, and I have found new ways to explore these connections–oral history collection, museum curation, visual art, and more. I have continued to explore my marine pursuits through visual art on my own time and through opportunities at COA. In addition to marine-focused projects in courses like Illustration, I designed an independent study in Marine Illustration and completed an artist residency at Mount Desert Rock, one of the college’s remote island research stations. I became so enamored with the station that I spent the next summer at the Rock as station co-manager and experimenting with a film-based biological survey with my co-manager Annaleena Vaher.
This year I will be working on a history of Mount Desert Rock for my senior project, working with the marine mammal skeleton collections, and figuring out what my next step is after graduation. Currently, I hope to take a gap year (or maybe more) to acquire more field experience and explore, and then I plan to pursue further education and a career in a marine field that keeps me involved with the ocean and continues to provide new experiences and challenges.
Camden Hunt (‘22) I’m researching the relationship between the ocean and human action, largely with regard to seafood processing. I recently completed an internship with Mapping Ocean Stories, focused largely on Maine’s historic sardine industry. I put together a large body of poetry, as well as created, wrote, and produced a radio show for Coastal Conversations on WERU. Recently, a different body of poetry related to herring smoking went on the Downeast Fishery Trail Website, and I was able to do some archival work at the McCurdy’s Smokehouse Museum in Lubec.
Through this work, I’ve been able to investigate the way history exists within coastal communities in a way I was never previously able – I’ve been able to do work that put me directly inside of seafood processing facilities that inspired art and writing.
Hallie Arno (‘22) My interests in marine science are pretty far-reaching right now. I’m really excited about aquaculture research and the potential aquaculture has for Maine, but also skeptical of some of its limitations. I have been involved in aquaculture research and hope to pursue that to help make aquaculture more sustainable and viable. Right now I am working for Maine Sea Grant analyzing the patterns through space and time of Double-Crested Cormorants in the Penobscot River. I’m interested in the role they have in the ecology of the river, since they may be predators of anadromous fish such as salmon and alewives, and the management implications of that. Last summer, I worked at Hurricane Island Center for Science and Leadership doing field research on aquaculture scallops and kelp to try to answer industry questions. This fall I’ve been working on the COA aquaculture site and have been working with commercial wild and farmed seaweed harvesters to learn more about seaweed research and management.
Jillian Igoe (‘22) My studies in marine science aim to bridge multiple disciplines to research not only how ocean systems work, but also the cultures, policies and histories of people who live on coasts and islands relate to these systems. My main interest is in mobilizing biological and cultural frameworks in order to research the potential of an ecosystem such as the Gulf of Maine to adapt to ongoing environmental changes. In order to look into this potential, I would like to explore trophic relationships – specifically pertaining to the impact of biodiversity loss on phytoplankton-zooplankton dynamics.
In the past, I carried out an independent research project assessing the impacts of temperature change on the northern star coral (Astrangia poculata) at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. I have also held an internship position at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute analyzing images and quantifying sediment motion caused by waves within the Vineyard Sound captured by a sonar device. Additionally, I gathered data on soft-shell clam populations with my Marine Biology class for the Bar Harbor Marine Resources Committee and the Maine Department of Resources.
Kiernan Crough (‘22) I’m a third year student hailing from the rolling hills of western Massachusetts. While at COA, I’ve taken pretty much every fish and ocean related class that’s been offered in an effort to create a well-rounded understanding into the aspects of not only biology, physics, and ecology of the marine environment, but also the communities of people who have historically relied on the ocean for their livelihood.
Last year, I participated in the Caribbean Reef Expedition with SEA Semester which entailed studying a diversity of topics such as how fisheries are managed, how the global ocean currents circulate, how the whaling industry collapsed, and when we traveled to the Caribbean, how to sail. Aboard the 134’ SSV Corwith Cramer, we traveled along the Lesser Antilles, collecting samples from the coral reefs of each island we visited and learning about the histories and cultures of the communities who relied upon the reefs for food, protection from erosion, and their cultural significance. Throughout this time, a classmate and I conducted our own independent research on the effects of marine protected areas on local reef health and species diversity. In conjunction with the data collected from the reef, we interviewed local stakeholders in order to assess the level of local involvement in marine conservation and investigate the potential correlation between their involvement with the marine protected area and the overall effectiveness of that protected area.
Before I graduate, I hope to acquire more experience in the field and apply my knowledge to tackling real world problems. Specifically, I plan on conducting and participating in field research at the Edward McC. Blair Marine Research Station on Mount Desert Rock. My main interest lies with shark behavior and understanding how their territory is shifting in connection with climate change. The Gulf of Maine has been dubbed by some as the fastest warming body of water in the world, and I’m curious to investigate how that has affected the behavior and biology of the sharks who visit our coast. As a localized zone of high biological productivity caused by upwelling and home to a seasonal colony of seals, Mount Desert Rock provides a perfect location to monitor the presence of sharks and their impacts on the local ecology.