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November 2014    Volume 3, Issue 3
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Frenchman Bay Partners

In This Issue

Eelgrass Restoration 
610 Project Update
Alewife Conservation
Partner Profile
Upcoming Events
CONSERVATION TARGETS
Eelgrass
Mudflats
Diadromous Fish
Subtidal and Benthic Habitats
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MDIBL Completes Summer of Eelgrass Restoration


By Jane Disney, Ph.D, and Anna Farrell

Scientists, AmeriCorps Environmental Stewards, and college interns at the MDIBL Community Environmental Health Laboratory (CEHL) worked with the Maine Coast Heritage Trust and numerous community volunteers to restore eelgrass in upper Frenchman Bay throughout the summer of 2014. In total, 8,060 eelgrass plants were collected from the subtidal area of Stave Island, which hosts an expansive eelgrass bed, to five different sites in upper Frenchman Bay. In all, 130 volunteers spent 745 hours making grids, collecting eelgrass plants, weaving eelgrass onto grids, developing other restoration methods, and carrying out restoration projects.

This massive restoration effort followed a two year disappearance of eelgrass in upper Frenchman Bay: its complete dieback in 2012 and its failure to re-emerge during the 2013 growing season. CEHL researchers and interns spent a lot of the summer attempting to determine what caused the disappearance in the upper bay and why eelgrass does well at outer island sites, despite warming trends in the Gulf of Maine and high green crab populations at all sites. They collected data about water quality, plant strength, plant abundance, density, biomass, and composition, and green crab type and abundance in hopes of discovering a relationship between these variables that might explain the eelgrass loss. Two students participating in the National Science Foundation's Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) at MDIBL designed experiments around these variables. 

Mary Badger,a student at Smith College, studied the genetics of green crabs from around MDI. She determined that both northern and southern varieties of the invasive green crab could be found at all study locations, and that there was no correlation between the proportion of crabs with northern haplotypes (purported to be more destructive to marine habitats) and eelgrass abundance.

Alden Dirks, a student at Swarthmore College, studied eelgrass from seven sites around MDI in an effort to explain differences in eelgrass abundance between the upper bay and the outer bay. Dirks looked at the correlation between a variety of eelgrass attributes and water quality variables, and found only one significant correlation: plant biomass is correlated with nitrate levels in the water column. The relationship between this correlation and eelgrass loss is still under investigation. 

Read more about the research and findings of our REU students here and here, and the new restorations methods developed by volunteers here
Volunteers collect eelgrass at Stave Island for one of five restoration projects.

610 Project Tackles Green Crabs


By Bridie McGreavy, Ph.D

The missions of the Frenchman Bay Partners and the Frenchman Bay Regional Shellfish Committee address the long-term stewardship of the region’s resources. The two groups have been working together since 2011, and developed the 610 Project, which seeks to build capacity for opening closed clam flats by improving communication and coordination, identifying sources of pollution, and finding ways to fix these sources.  

Building from the 610 project, the Partners and the Shellfish Committee received a $6,000 grant to the Maine Community for the Green Crab Control Project. This project allows the Committee to extensively trap green crabs in select coves, measure the impact of the trapping, and also be prepared to participate in market-based solutions to this problem. Market solutions may include participating in Asian live-markets, supplying processing facilities, and providing suppliers with chitin from the shell. 

Read more about other 610 Project successes here!
A female green crab caught during CEHL's crab census in August. 

Local Alewife Numbers Show Impact of Conservation Efforts


By Dr. Chris Petersen

Two local streams, Flanders Stream in Sullivan and the Somes Brook drainage that includes Long Pond and Somes Pond on MDI, have been the focus of local restoration efforts over the past several years. Newly released Maine DMR reports from volunteer counts for both rivers in 2014 showed migrating alewives similar to 2013, which was a banner year on MDI and a strong initial year after a restoration on Flanders Stream. For this report I wanted to focus on the Flanders Stream work and subsequent report written by Claire Enterline of the Maine Department of Marine Resources. We will update work on the Somesville fish run in a future report, although you can see the document written by Ms. Enterline here.
 
Gary Edwards, the municipal liaison to the Frenchman Bay Partners, who represents the town of Sullivan, has been the energy behind replacing a culvert on Thorne Road in Sullivan in 2012 and redesigning the fish ladder there.  Alewives in Flanders Stream are actively harvested for lobster bait (see photo below), but a portion of the run is allowed to migrate upstream and spawn. This upstream number is estimated at around 15,000, close to the initial goal of 18,715. The weir appears to be working well. The new harvester Tim Briggs has devised a collection scheme that lets some alewives move upstream every day, including the four days a week that he can harvest. The number of volunteer counts nearly doubled from 26 in 2013 to 50 in 2014, giving much better coverage of the run and a much more accurate estimate of the number of alewives allowed to go upstream. The increased effort has actually made it slightly challenging to see how much the run has changed, because now data are taken throughout the entire run, not just in the peak of the run. 
 
This combination of harvesting, conservation and restoration is nothing new to the town of Sullivan. Recently Helen Gordon was conducting research at the Sullivan Town office and came across an 1833 town meeting warrant article where the town agreed to raise $100 to pay individuals at a rate of eight cents an hour to open a fishway, clear Flanders Stream from its mouth to Flanders Pond and chose a fish committee to oversee the work. This gives a documented history of over 180 years of making sure that there is good connectivity between the ocean and the pond, a critical link in the life cycle of river herring. 
 
We applaud the town of Sullivan, Gary Edwards, and all of the organizations that helped to fund this restoration work (The Gulf of Maine Council, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Maine Department of Marine Resources, Maine Natural Resources Conservation Program, and Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership), as well as all of the volunteers that have helped monitor this run over the last three years.  We are hoping for a big run next year both for Tim and the Flanders Pond watershed. Anyone interested in helping with counting during next year’s run (late April until early June) can contact Gary Edwards (gandjedwards@gwi.net).
Harvesting alewives on Flanders Stream. Photo credit: Gary Edwards

Partner Profile: Maine Conservation Corps


Over the past 16 years, Jane Disney has hosted 10 MCC Environmental Stewards; two currently serve at the MDI Biological Laboratory. Maine Conservation Corps (MCC) members serve throughout the state of Maine, volunteering with conservation and environmental education projects. Part of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry, the MCC has a four part mission: accomplishing conservation projects, creating conservation employment, providing conservation education, and engaging conservation volunteers (read more on their website). At MDIBL, Environmental Stewards Jirias Charabati and Anna Farrell engage volunteers; monitor cruise ships, phytoplankton, and beach bacteria; assist in eelgrass-based education, outreach, and restoration; and collaborate with the Frenchman Bay Partners. Charabati is serving a 900 hour term, and Farrell is serving a 1700 hour term. In 2013, 86 MCC service members devoted 63,752 hours to trail construction and rehabilitation, environmental education, volunteer management, leadership development, and veteran employment.
From left to right: Jirias Charabati, host site supervisor Jane Disney, and Anna Farrell

Upcoming Events

 
What is the Future of Frenchman Bay?
  • November 12, 20146-8:30 pm. Dahlgren Hall, MDIBL Campus. All Frenchman Bay Partners are invited to discussion and dinner, catered by Mother's Kitchen, regarding the future of Frenchman Bay. If you're interested in coming, RSVP to Jane Disney
  • November 13, 2014, 6-8:30 pm. The Partners are hosting a discussion about the future of Frenchman Bay at Galyn's Restaurant in Bar Harbor for businesses around Frenchman Bay. Please spread the word! If you or anyone you know might be interested, contact Jane Disney.
  • The Frenchman Bay Partners is collecting survey information for both events. If you are a Frenchman Bay Partner, take this survey. If you're not a Frenchman Bay Partner, take this survey
A late August sunrise over Upper Frenchman Bay. Photo credit: Bridie McGreavy
Copyright © 2014 Frenchman Bay Partners, All rights reserved.


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