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

February 1, 1999

Dear Volunteers and Friends of The Lobster Conservancy,

Once again, The Lobster Conservancy has a lot of exciting news to report. So fasten your seat belts; here we go!!

News from the Board of Directors

Sara Ellis, Ph.D., is TLC’s new Executive Director. She has a broad background in marine science and a strong commitment to research, education, and conservation. Photo by Diane Cowan

First of all, allow me to introduce myself. I am Sara Ellis, the recently appointed Executive Director of TLC, and I'm thrilled to be here. As you heard last fall, Diane has been hired as the chief lobster biologist for Maine's Department of Marine Resources in Boothbay Harbor. Diane is still strongly committed to TLC and will continue to survey Lowell's Cove and oversee ongoing projects. However the demands of her new job are too intense to allow her to devote herself fully to TLC.

And that's where I come in. At a meeting last November, board members voted for Diane to remain as President of TLC, while I was voted in as Vice-President and Executive Director. I am a marine biologist with a Ph.D. from Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, where I was recently an Assistant Professor. I received my Masters at Boston University Marine Program in Woods Hole studying chemical communication in lobsters and other crustaceans. Woods Hole is where I first collaborated with Diane some 15 years ago, and also first met fellow board members Kari, Adria, and Tom.

I will be taking care of the day-to-day activities of TLC with direction from other members of the board, and continuing TLC's programs of research, volunteer monitoring, and education. I intend to contact each of the volunteers individually over the next short while to introduce myself personally. If you have any changes of address, phone number or e-mail since last fall, please be sure to let me know so I donÍt miss you.

I look forward to meeting you all and working with you in the upcoming season!

Friendship Lobster Laboratory
The other big news is that TLC has been blessed with a donation of the Friendship Lobster Laboratory. This donation consists of three tidal lobster pounds on islands in Muscongus Bay off Friendship, Maine (See July News for background). USI Corporation of Rockland donated two properties, one on Friendship Long Island and one on Little Morse Island, as a place for TLC to conduct research and educational programs.

The Friendship Long Island property has one enormous lobster pound (covering several acres at high tide) with a dam that is in tip-top shape. This property also includes a 7-acre wood lot and the pound keeper's house, which will be useful as a scientific and educational base. On Little Morse there are two large lobster pounds with dams in various states of disrepair, and a small concrete-block house. The two properties together have been appraised at $1.5 million dollars. A very generous donation indeed!

This dam holds seawater inside a 6-acre lobster pound at the Friendship Lobster Lab. TLC will study lobsters in this large, natural setting. Photo by Diane Cowan

The pound-keeper’s house at the Friendship Lobster Lab will serve as a base of operations. Photo by Diane Cowan

Lobster pounds provide an ideal setting for experiments on lobsters. These large, enclosed coves give TLC the unprecedented ability to conduct controlled behavioral research over the entire life cycle of the lobster. Never before have lobster biologists had the opportunity to set up experiments in such a large, natural setting where they can keep track of individual lobster over time. Potential topics of study at the Friendship Lobster Laboratory include, lobster courtship and mating behavior, predator/prey interactions, habitat preferences, tagging and tracking experiments, growth studies, and lobster health issues.

The acquisition of the Friendship Lobster Lab was facilitated by the outstanding work of two individuals: Al Bergeron, the representative for USI Corp. (donor), and TLC's attorney, Helen Muther of Perkins, Thompson, Hinckley and Keddy, P.A. in Portland. When Al was looking for potential recipients, he found TLC's web site and realized there could be a perfect match. He contacted TLC and took Diane out to see the pounds. Throughout the acquisition process, Al was very giving of his time and provided the necessary information and documents. HelenÍs expertise in island real estate and coastal issues made for an incredibly easy transition. She charted a smooth course for TLC through the veritable sea of legal details. Kudos to Al and Helen!

As an added bonus, attorney John Upton, also of Perkins, Thompson, Hinckley and Keddy, P.A., donated a 16-foot fiberglass boat with a 40-hp motor. Greatly appreciated, John.

Research News
As you heard last fall, the first scientific paper authored by Diane F. Cowan and submitted by The Lobster Conservancy was accepted by the Journal of Crustacean Biology. The paper is entitled "Method for assessing relative abundance, size-distribution, and growth of recently settled and early juvenile lobster (Homarus americanus) in the lower intertidal zone." Since the fall, Diane has incorporated the minor revisions requested by reviewers and submitted the paper in its final form. It will be published in November of 1999. In the meantime, we plan to post the manuscript on the research page of our web site.

Most Harpswell volunteers stopped sampling after the October low tides. A few hardy souls ventured out in November, but found low numbers of lobsters. Corrie Bibber surveyed Little Harbor and found 6 juveniles ranging from 21-35 mm carapace length along her transect. Some curious friends of Corrie's were looking on the other side of the harbor and found 9 tiny lobsters. The one animal they measured had a white claw tips and sides and measured 7.5 carapace length. Hey Corrie, who were these friends of yours? Let's sign them up for the monitoring program next year! Diane continues to sample the lobsters at Lowell's Cove year round. Sara and Diane monitored Lowell's Cove together in January. They found and tagged five lobsters.

Penobscot Bay Project
Most Pen Bay volunteers ended sampling in October. Jane Roundy and Julie Wortman conducted their final 1998 survey at Drift Inn Beach in Port Clyde on Nov. 3, but uncovered no lobsters on their transect. They noted a great deal more mud or silt than in earlier months. While doing haphazard sampling on the other side of the beach they found two juveniles. On November 17-18, Diane and Sara attended the "Penobscot Bay Marine Collaborative Workshop: Integration of Projects Related to Lobster Recruitment." The Island Institute hosted the workshop and Dr. Lew Incze of Bigelow Laboratory served as moderator. This was the first time that all the collaborators on the Pen Bay lobster projects had gathered in one room, and the overall goal was to maximize project integration. The first day focussed on research rationale for the various component projects, data, and ideas for further research. Diane and other principal investigators gave talks about their past and planned research in Pen Bay. The second day focussed on logistics and sampling plans. The workshop was a great success and opened up fruitful discussions. Plans for 1999 are to continue intertidal lobster monitoring in Pen Bay from May through October at four areas where volunteers have already been trained: Drift Inn Beach, Vinalhaven, Castine, and Stonington. We also plan to recruit and train volunteers in four new sites, including Rockland, Islesboro, Isle au Haut, and Matinicus. Information sessions and scouting for new sites will take place in March and April. If you would like more information please contact Sara.

Lowell's Cove Appeal
On December 16th Diane presented TLC's appeal against a permit to partially fill the freshwater wetland that drains into Lowell's Cove. The appeal was heard by the Board of Environmental Protection. Although the board denied the appeal, TLC's appeal was successful in two ways. The board ruled that the applicant must hire a licensed Maine Professional Engineer (third party inspector) to oversee construction on the site and certify that work is done according to plan. In addition, The Department of Environmental Protection is now aware that filling wetlands may impact juvenile lobster populations and has requested further information sessions with The Lobster Conservancy.

There was good press coverage chronicling Diane's new job and the change in leadership at TLC. Bill MacDonald of the Island Institute wrote an article entitled "Cowan to oversee DMR biological monitoring" in the Dec/Jan issue of the Working Waterfront (page 3). Another article by Janice Plante entitled "Maine DMR hires Cowan as chief lobster biologist" appeared in Commercial Fisheries News (Dec. 1998, page 15C). John Richardson included information about the donation of the Friendship Lobster Lab in his article entitled "Lobster Conservancy loses leader, wins big donation (Portland Press Herald, Dec 29, 1998). Check out our ?press web site for links to some of these articles.

On December 7 1998, Diane gave a talk at the Yarmouth Lions Club to an audience of over 20 people. Her talk was well received and clearly made a lasting impression, since the club members decided to collectively adopt 100 lobsters. Thank you Yarmouth Lions!

Fund Raising Highlights
With the acquisition of The Friendship Lobster Lab comes a need to raise funding so we can take full advantage of this unique property. TLC board members recognize how this donation adds to the momentum that has been building. Board members are working hard to put together a fund-raising strategy. We envision a period of continued growth for the organization that will allow us to reach for the greater potential that lies ahead in lobster research and education.

As for our fund-raising programs, Adopt-a-Lobster was a popular gift idea this Christmas. Several orders came in from people who had seen our web-site, including orders from Illinois, New Jersey, and even England!

As a pleasant New Year's surprise, TLC received an unsolicited cash donation from Peter Schwindt and Trish Riley of Brunswick, Maine. Peter has long been a strong supporter of TLC and has helped us out in many ways, both financially and logistically. In fact, Peter made our web site possible by introducing us to the Community of Learners and encouraging them to provide computer support.

Upcoming Events
The Maine Fishermen's Forum is being held on March 4-6 at the Samoset Resort in Rockport. This will be preceded by US/Canada Lobster Summit III on March 3rd and 4th, an international workshop on stock assessment. Diane will be giving a talk and participating in panel discussions, and Sara will be attending. Other members of the Pen Bay lobster project will also be giving talks including Bill MacDonald and Carl Wilson from the Island Institute, Bob Steneck from University of Maine, and Rick Wahle from the Bigelow Laboratory.

The Lobster Conservancy will have a booth in the trade show of the Fishermen's Forum on March 4th and 5th to display our research, education, and volunteer programs. We will be selling hats and other items to try to recover our costs. Please drop by and say Hello if you attend the forum.

We are seeking volunteers who would like to spend some time at our booth to tell people first-hand about their experiences in the intertidal lobster monitoring program. If you're interested, or would like more information about the forum, please contact Sara by any of the methods listed below.

New Contact Information
For the winter, Sara has moved the TLC office to her family home in Fortune's Rocks near Biddeford, Maine. You can still send mail to TLC via P.O. Box 193, Orr's Island, 04066. TLC's new phone number is (207) 282-0675. Sara's e-mail address is sellis@lobsters.org and Diane's is dcowan@lobsters.org. We will be sure to update you with any changes.

Cheers for now. I'm looking forward to a great future with The Lobster Conservancy.


Yours in TLC and Friendship,

Sara Ellis, Executive Director and Diane Cowan, Senior Scientist

TLC News