There are easier ways to make a living, but most of the folks who spend their days hauling lobster traps up from the ocean floor wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.
They are celebrated in this year’s main exhibit at the Islesford Historical Museum. Operated by Acadia National Park, the museum is located on Islesford, also known as Little Cranberry Island. It was founded by noted historian William Otis Sawtelle.
The exhibit is called “Boats & Buoys: Lobstering on Little Cranberry Island.”
“The fascinating thing about the people involved in lobstering, especially here, is that they are also poets, artists, bird carvers, model boat builders and humanitarians – they volunteer in the winter for medical missions and that type of thing,” said Roz Rea, the exhibit project manager.
“You will see examples of their artwork and poetry, as well as learn the basics of what lobstering is all about.”
The centerpiece of the exhibit is a replica of the stern section of a lobster boat. Visitors can step onto the boat, where there are interactive displays. Children especially enjoy measuring plastic lobsters to find out whether their live counterparts would be large enough to keep.
In a 20-minute video, lobstermen – which is also what women who catch lobsters are called – are interviewed about some of the most commonly asked questions about lobstering.
A three-minute video shows how the island honors its deceased lobstermen with memorial flotillas.
“Boats go in a single-file procession out to a point on the ocean where they circle around and usually commit ashes to the sea and then do a final call for that person’s boat,” Rea said. “It’s really very moving.”
She said the reaction of Islesford residents to the “Boats & Buoys” exhibit has been overwhelmingly positive.
“They are thrilled to see themselves and to see people being celebrated for what they do.”
The Islesford Historical Museum is open daily from June 20 through Oct. 14. Small passenger ferries make several trips a day to Islesford from both Northeast Harbor and Southwest Harbor.