P.O. Box 235, Friendship, ME 04547 (207) 832-8224 www.lobsters.org

March, 2003

Dear Volunteers and Friends of The Lobster Conservancy,

The Lobster Conservancy's mission is to sustain a thriving lobster fishery through science and community. This newsletter keeps our friends and volunteer research team informed of our activities. Here's what we've been up to over the past few months.

News from the Board of Directors
The Lobster Conservancy has settled comfortably into our mainland headquarters, fondly dubbed the “Lobster House,” in downtown Friendship. Our dream is to make the Lobster House a community focal point for lobster research and education projects. Feel free to drop by if you're in the neighborhood.

Lobster House, TLC's office in downtown Friendship. (Photo by Sara Ellis)

Last year, Jane Roundy volunteered as Volunteer Coordinator of the Juvenile Lobster Monitoring Program, and developed our Volunteer Certification Program. Thanks to grants from Maine's Lobster Advisory Council, the H. King and Jean Cummings Trust of the Maine Community Foundation, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and New England Biolabs Foundation, we have been able to bring Jane on as a part-time staff member this year. Welcome aboard, Jane!

Jane Roundy, showing her enthusiasm for lobsters. (Photo by Sara Ellis)

We are grateful to Darden Environmental Trust for renewing their generous support of The Lobster Conservancy in 2003. Thanks also to the Aldermere Foundation, the Beim Foundation, the Roger K. Berle Charitable Trust, the Margaret E. Burnham Charitable Trust, the Michael and Elizabeth Dingman Foundation, the Kate Ireland Foundation, the Wolf Kahn and Emily Mason Foundation, the Morton-Kelly Charitable Trust, the Sella Foundation Trust and the Spicewood Fund for supporting our programs this year.

We have had a great response to our 2002 Annual Appeal. Thank you to all the individuals and businesses who started or renewed memberships with TLC. Your support is critical to keep our initiatives strong. If you did not receive our solicitation and would like to, please contact the TLC office at (207) 832-8224.

It was a treat to see so many of our supporters at the 2003 Fishermen's Forum, held at the Samoset Resort in Rockport, February 27-March 1. Congratulations to Elvin Hupper, a Friendship resident and proud winner of a Lobster Conservancy t-shirt.

After 3 years as an invaluable board member, Moe Bisson has stepped down from his position as Treasurer of TLC, to allow himself more time to pursue other passions. Thank you, Moe, and best wishes.

Research News
Juvenile Lobster Project
Volunteer Program
Over the winter we have been updating the data collected by volunteers in the Juvenile Lobster Monitoring Program (JLMP) last season. Jane Roundy has finished the massive task of entering and proofreading all the 2002 data, with help from Martha Roundy and Julie Wortman. Sara has begun preliminary data analyses, and will prepare a report on the 2002 season that will be available on the web (and by request) in April.

To streamline data entry and analyses in the future, we have been working with Sean and Laura Creagan of db-ology Inc. to make the database available online in 2003. Volunteers with internet access will be able to enter their data remotely online and will be able to review data from their monitoring site over the years.

We are now gearing up for our 8th volunteer season, which is slated to begin on April 17 and end on November 26. To prepare for the 2003 season, we are updating the Volunteer Training Handbook and have scheduled two Kick-Off Meetings for JLMP volunteers: April 5 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and April 6 in Friendship, Maine. At the meeting we will discuss the results of the 2002 sampling season and the 2002 Volunteer Evaluation Questionnaire, and review improvements in procedures for this year. We will also premiere our online data entry system. We've heard from many volunteers who can't wait to get back into the field!

Long-term Tagging of Juvenile Lobsters
2002 marked Diane's 10th year of year-round, long-term tag-and-recapture studies of juvenile lobsters and sampling at Lowell's Cove on Orr's Island in Casco Bay.

Shown here are density graphs (number of lobsters per square meter) for juvenile lobsters sampled at Lowell's Cove over the past 10 years. Each graph represents a different age class: 3.5-6.4 mm carapace length lobsters are postlarvae and juveniles that have molted only once since settling to the bottom, they are less than one month old; and 6.4-17.4 mm carapace length lobsters represent juveniles within their first 12 months of benthic life.

Although there was some variation in density between these age classes from year to year, 2002 densities were the highest we have recorded for both age classes. These data suggest that the juvenile lobster population is doing well.

Diane and Island Institute Fellow Dan O'Grady have continued to implant microwire tags in lobsters at Deep Cove on Friendship Long Island in Muscongus Bay throughout the winter. This season's exceptionally low temperatures have limited tagging trips – juvenile lobsters tend to lose limbs with alarming ease when the air temperature is below 20ºF. This year marks the 5th study year at Deep Cove. This research will yield important information on growth and movement patterns of juvenile lobsters in the wild.

Lobster Life Studies Center
Sonar Tracking Project
The unusually cold winter has also slowed data gathering for the Sonar Tracking project, but as of the January 2003 we had relocated 103 of the 191 egg-bearing female lobsters tagged by TLC at least once. Many of these lobsters were relocated more than once, and one lobster has been relocated six additional times! Of those lobsters that have been relocated, about half of them have moved more than one kilometer from where they were tagged and released (see map). The record distance moved so far is over 11 miles.

This map depicts the movement of sonar-tagged lobsters in Muscongus Bay. Hydrophone monitoring suggests most of these eggers are leaving the shallower parts of the bay for deeper water, which is warmer at this time of year. (Map by Dan O'Grady)

As some lobstermen pulled out traps and/or boats for the winter, we have transferred the sonar equipment and lobster-tracking duties to others, including two lobstermen from Monhegan Island, and a Marine Patrol officer from the Rockland office. Diane and Dan have also gone out on hired boats to listen in areas of the bay that are not being covered regularly by harvesters. In addition to tracking the eggers through the spring and early summer, when most hatching takes place, we will SCUBA dive to check on the condition of females who have not moved from their original tagging location.

We welcome the following lobstermen and their sternmen to the Sonar Tracking project: Matt Weber F/V Griffin, Mattie Thompson F/V Striker, and Rene Cloutier P/V Guardian. As always, we are grateful for the help and knowledge the harvester-scientists add to all of our research endeavors. We couldn't do it without you!

Outreach and Education
TLC Educators aim to spread 'Lobster Literacy' on the Maine coast
This winter, TLC's Education Coordinator Linda Archambault and Island Institute fellow Dan O'Grady brought the lobster life cycle to life for a variety of audiences including: high school students in the Warren Alternative Education School; 8th graders in the fishing community of Stonington; 1st graders at the Harpswell Islands School; and 6th graders at the King Middle School in Portland. King Middle School will join the Friendship Village School in Friendship as a test site for TLC's Lobster Larvae in the Classroom curriculum (see August 2002 newsletter) this spring.

Dan O'Grady (right) shares lobster literacy with 4th graders at the Friendship Village School. (Photo by Carla Eutsler)

Lobster-based Curriculum Retreat planned for April
TLC's efforts to spread lobster literacy are moving along briskly. We will host a Lobster Literacy Retreat for grade 5-8 teachers April 12 and 13. The purpose of the retreat is to introduce teachers to our Lobster Larvae in the Classroom project, give them background information on lobster biology, and begin a collaboration that will continue for over a year. This collaboration between teachers and TLC scientists will yield a Lobster Literacy curriculum, which will be tested in the classrooms of participating teachers, then shared with teachers and students around the Gulf of Maine via the World Wide Web. We received program development funds from Maine Sea Grant to cover the costs of the retreat. The Island Institute has generously offered to donate logistical support, meeting space and overnight accommodations for teachers. If you are interested in attending the retreat or would like more information, please contact Linda at (207) 832-8224 or linda@lobsters.org.

TLC joining forces with Lobster Institute & Friends
Linda and Dan are also participating in a fledgling group whose purpose is to combine resources to bring an effective lobster-based curriculum to the maximum number of interested schools. Organized by Cathy Billings of the Lobster Institute, group participants include Mike Felton of the Island Institute; Robin Jettinghoff, a consultant working on the 7th grade laptop initiative; Jana Boody, SAD 57 Curriculum Coordinator; teachers Carla Eutsler, Ben Sholl, Ted Jordan, and Tracy Vasseliev; and lobsterman Chris Robinson of Portland. The group has met once to become acquainted and share ideas. They will meet again March 22 to refine ideas and decide on a course of action. Participation in this group will facilitate TLC's goal of spreading lobster literacy throughout the Gulf of Maine.

Learning focus: Muscongus Bay
In yet another collaborative effort, Linda and Dan are working with Jen Atkinson of the Quebec Labrador Foundation (QLF) and local environmental and education organizations in their effort to support the development of a learning focus on Muscongus Bay. The primary goal of the project is to help local students develop a deeper appreciation for and knowledge of the place where they live and develop a deeper understanding of the issues it faces. The group is planning a Muscongus Among Us Share Fair where local organizations including TLC will present their educational offerings to teachers from around the bay and exchange ideas with teachers about incorporating local learning into school programs.

Maine Fishermen's Forum
Once again, TLC hosted a booth at the annual Maine Fishermen's Forum to spread the word about our research and education programs. Thank you Tom Archambault, John Cary, Chris Cash, Regina Clark, George and Barbara Hampson, Cal Hancock, Sue Hawkes, Richard Nelson, Jane Roundy, John Shea, Michele Walsh, Amy Watson, Stacy Welner, and Betty Wilson for volunteering at our booth.

Tom Archambault and Barbara & George Hampson (from l-r), some of the knowledgeable, enthusiastic volunteers who staffed the TLC booth at the 2003 Fishermen's Forum. (Photo by Sara Ellis)

Press Coverage
TLC's research initiative exploring the lobster reproduction dynamics of Muscongus Bay, the Sonar Tracking Project, gained some regional media exposure this winter - the December 2002 Working Waterfront and the March 2003 edition of Commercial Fisheries News featured stories highlighted TLC's work investigating the spawning and hatching behavior of eggers in Muscongus Bay. The articles give an excellent overview of the research – check the Working Waterfront piece out on the web. And be sure to visit our press page for other news coverage of TLC's programs.

Commercial Fisheries News' "Lobster Doc" columns have a new author. After 3 years of educating the paper's readership about current issues in lobster biology, Diane has passed the post into the able hands of fellow lobster aficionado, Kari Lavalli, Ph.D. You can still read all Lobster Doc articles online as they become available at www.lobsters.org/ldoc/ldocindx.php.

Multitudes of Thanks
Since TLC's inception we have been blessed by incredible support from our friends. We appreciate Jim Bolen's help and advice regarding our moorings. Many thanks to Sue Barber and Rena Carey at the Maine Lobster Promotion Council for their generous donation of a computer and scanner. Thanks to George Hampson for donating an office chair and file cabinet. We also appreciate all the phone calls we've been getting from lobstermen around the state who have been reporting on the sonar-tagged lobsters they catch.

Upcoming Events
Our Volunteer Kick-Off extravaganzas for this season's juvenile lobster monitoring will take place in two venues: in Portsmouth, NH on Saturday, April 5 and in Friendship, ME on Sunday, April 6. Please call the TLC office (207-832-8224) for details on location and time.

Our next meeting with the Sonar Tracking team will be held at our mainland office, Lobster House, and is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, April 10 at 7pm. TLC staff will call to confirm the meeting place and date.

On Tuesday evening, June 3, Sara Ellis and Diane Cowan will present a talk entitled, "Lobsters: From Eggs to Plate" for the Shoals Marine Laboratory on Appledore Island, Maine. All are welcome!

TLC's Wish List
If you can spare any of the following items, we would be happy to give them a new home, providing they are in good working order. The value of your donation would, of course, be tax deductible. Please call us at 207-832-8224 about a potential donation.

As always, your support will be most appreciated. May spring be with you!

Yours in TLC and Friendship,

Sara Ellis, Executive Director and Diane Cowan, Senior Scientist

TLC News