Cobscook Bay - A Researcher's Dream
(Published in the Quoddy Tides, January 14, 2000)
This begins a series of columns focused on Cobscook Bay's marine system. Its simple purpose is to share information, so that all who use and care about the Bay will have the benefit of that information to use in their own decision-making.
Though the marine world remains largely a mystery to humans, recent scientific research is helping us get a better picture of how Cobscook and its component parts fit together as a system. This column will seek to highlight some of that research and share what the scientists are learning.
The Quoddy region has long attracted scientists interested in what was going on in the sea. There are, for example, over 600 documents, studies and reports listed in a bibliography of information relevant to the Cobscook marine ecosystem that was published and distributed to area libraries by the Nature Conservancy in 1997.
The scientific research noted in the bibliography was largely motivated by practical concerns. In 1871, for example, the US Congress ordered the appointment of a Commissioner of Fish and Fisheries to investigate "a diminution in the number of food-fishes" in the eastern U.S. The newly appointed commissioner chose Eastport as the headquarters of the second year of this research, which marked the first serious scientific investigation in the Cobscook area. Later, various development proposals generated waves of research activity, including the Passamaquoddy Tidal Power project, the Pittston oil refinery project and large scale salmon aquaculture.
A variety of more recent scientific research initiatives have continued this tradition but with a primary focus on Cobscook Bay itself. These include
- a study of the circulation patterns by a native of Eastport that is of direct relevance to those interested in oil spill preparedness, the siting of aquaculture pens and scallop enhancement
- a long term investigation of green crabs and periwinkles by a Cornell University researcher who summers in Pembroke.
- a study of the Bay's nutrient sources by a researcher at the Bigelow Laboratory of Ocean Sciences
- a study of rockweed and kelp growth in the bay by a University of Maine researcher
- a variety of research projects by a University of Maine at Machias professor on the soft shell clam
- a project by a state marine geologist to map the types of sediments found beneath the waters of Cobscook
These research projects and others will be highlighted in the months ahead. Please let us know what you think.
Return to Cobscook Bay Resource Center homepage.