Where has May gone: Part I – Frenchman Bay Partners Annual Meeting at COA

By Chris Petersen and Madeline Motley

So, May has been really busy with lots of events to blog about, so, of course, we have been too busy to blog.  Over the next 10 days perhaps we can catch up a bit (probably not).  While we are doing this we will be asking ourselves the question: How do people with lives actually find the time to blog about stuff?

In the beginning of May (the 2nd) about 45 people from around Frenchman Bay gathered in Gates to participate in the Frenchman Bay Partners annual meeting.  COA students along with local fishermen, partners from the New England Sustainability Consortium (NEST), Mount Desert Island Biology Lab (MDIBL), and the University of Maine came to present their ideas for education, conservation, and management within Frenchman Bay.

The FB partners meeting spent at least half of its time in small groups, focused on expanded discussions of our conservation targets: eelgrass, mudflats, benthic habitat, and diadromous fishes, as well as new stuff like Jennifer Booher’s Coastwalk and Duncan Bailey’s Anecdata website. In the foreground Sean Smith from UMO continues discussions on watersheds, Jenn is at the table behind discussing Coastwalk, and in the far corner you can just make out Jane Disney with a group discussing eelgrass.


Frenchman Bay Partners Executive Committee in action part 1 of 3.  Chris (Vice-Prez) can’t stay in his seat talking about diadromous fishes while Bob DeForrest (member-at-large) wonders what color pen Emma will grab.

The main goal of the Frenchman Bay Partners is to communicate with local fishermen, researchers, and policy makers to form the best plan of action for the conservation of Frenchman Bay.  There was a lot of interaction (and Human Ecology!) going around and about half the time was spent brainstorming new ideas for existing projects.  The meeting was a great way for students to interact with researchers, artists, and locals about Frenchman Bay.  The Ecological Research in Aquatic Ecosystem class was especially excited to talk to Jane Disney about her restoration work on eelgrass.  This is mainly because the first homework assignment Chris gave them was based on eelgrass restoration and the students wanted to learn why they had to suffer (Note from Chris – they actually gave feedback to Jane on a draft of a report – I thought they did a great job).  On a more serious note, the homework assignment was actually very beneficial to the students!


Frenchman Bay Partners Executive Committee in action part 2 of 3.  Jane discusses where to go next on eelgrass research & restoration with students.

Surprisingly to the students, there were things other than science being talked about at the meeting.  Indeed, there was a lot of human ecology going on! You can learn about what topics were discussed during the meeting at the Frenchman Bay Partners website. We are just going to highlight two projects that we thought were particularly interesting and unique.


Frenchman Bay Partners Executive Committee in action part 3 of 3.  Anna Farrell (Maine Americorps and event co-organizer) takes notes on Benthic Habitats.


One of Jennifer Boohner’s beautiful still life pieces.

Jennifer Booher is an artist working on her latest project, The Coast Walk.  For the past few months she has been walking the entire coastline of MDI.  Strike that, she hasn’t been walking it.  “I’ve been snowshoeing, climbing, hanging on by her fingernails, and occasionally I even do some walking.”  Throughout her journey, Jennifer takes still life photographs of everything and anything that interests her.  She researches the stretch of coastline she’s doing and finds something cool about it.  Did you know that there was a cannon on Schooner Head in the early 1900s?  She loves learning about the places, the geology, and the organisms that she finds.  What’s better is inviting people along, especially when they know something about the place.  Jennifer is looking forward to a geology walk with COA’s Sarah Hall to learn about the geology of the island, and going to tidepools at Otter Cliffs with Chris and students.   It takes Jennifer about a week to walk a couple of miles, take the pictures, edit the pictures, do her research, write up her piece, and finalize her art before finally posting it on her blog.  There are so many stories missing from the blog, but Jennifer plans to turn her artwork into a book when she’s finished.  Talk about Human Ecology. A main piece of artwork are these wonderfully compelling arrangements of found objects from each location, that Jenn scans and turns into images that remind us of old plates from a natural history volume.  But talking about them doesn’t do them justice, you should check them out at Jenniferbooher.com.

Okay, we are getting long-winded here.  Just a quick note, another presentation was on a new website, Anecdata.  This website provides an open platform for groups to enter and synthesize spatial data of any kind collected through citizen science.  If you have a project that could benefit from citizen science, and want a place to have people enter spatial data of any kind, say records of seal sightings or invasive species or the occurrence of eelgrass (an actual project at the site), this seems like the most flexible site like this we have ever seen.

That is it for the beginning of May. Now, what do we do next, talk about tide pools, clam flats, fish swimming upstream, pH, Eastern Maine Skippers? Or will we just be too busy doing these things to blog again for a month?  Will Madeline get all her classwork done on time?  (She says probably not.)  Will Chris be prepared for an 8am class on Monday?  (If not, does Madeline get to sleep in?)  Stay tuned.

About marinestudiesatcoa

Chris is a professor of marine ecology and policy at College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine
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