Great Duck Island. PHOTO COURTESY OF COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC

Great Duck Island is talk topic



BAR HARBOR — The important waterfowl and intrepid people of Great Duck Island will be explored by College of the Atlantic W.H. Drury Professor of Ecology and Natural History John Anderson at COA’s next Human Ecology Forum in McCormick Lecture Hall on Tuesday, April 18, at 4:10 p.m.

Since the 19th century, the 237-acre Great Duck Island has been home to intrepid homesteaders, farmers, fishermen, lighthouse keepers, summer residents and some of the oldest offshore bird colonies in the eastern United States. Today, with much of the property in conservation as a protected nesting area, College of the Atlantic’s Alice Eno Research Station plays host to substantial research into the wildlife there.

“For those of us in the know, we call the island ‘the Magical Isle’ for a reason,” Anderson said. “Its sounds, its songs, its shores, its trees, its birds, its sunrises and sunsets weave a spell that draws us back year after year to an ever-changing sameness that we call home.”

Located 9 miles offshore, Great Duck serves as a major breeding site for many species of gulls, guillemots and petrels and has been the subject of extensive research by Anderson and generations of COA students. Great Duck has been a major nesting site for the herring gull for over a century. In addition, the island supports one of the largest – if not the largest – populations of nesting Leach’s storm petrels in the eastern United States.

“The island presents a challenging, but meaningful environment within which the next generation of field ecologists can find a wealth of subjects to explore while honing their skills, building self-confidence and applying the benefit of a holistic training in human ecology on a daily basis,” Anderson said.

Given the dramatic declines in gull numbers over the past decade, Great Duck Island’s importance as a protected nesting area has only grown, Anderson said. His presentation will share the research he, his students and COA alumni have been conducting on these essential birds and their habitat.

A graduate of University of Rhode Island, Anderson holds a doctorate in biological sciences and has carried out extensive work in the field of natural history. He spends a large amount of his time on Great Duck Island and loves using this “perfect outdoor laboratory” to expand his own research and help students become more comfortable working in the field.

 

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