To the Editor:
Recently, several articles and letters in the Islander have commented upon aspects of the proposed lengthening of the Bar Harbor Bluenose pier to accommodate increased numbers and sizes of cruise ships. I have not seen the following questions addressed:
If the pier is extended for half a mile out into Frenchman Bay, what hydrodynamic effects would that have on tidal flows? The volume of water passing between the Porcupine Islands with each tide is very large and would remain the same, with or without a lengthened pier. However, the presence of a long pier would, in effect, create a much narrower channel for that water to move through.
Would lobster boats and other small craft be at risk within 200-300 yards of the pier end when the tide is running full?
What effect would the presence of the pier, together with the altered tidal flows noted above, have on the biological organisms in the bay, and would moored or docked cruise ships be releasing any solid or liquid waste into the water day or night? (I cynically assume they would, especially with newly relaxed EPA rules)
As a recently retired biologist who studied the embryonic development of invertebrates and vertebrates during 40-plus summers at the MDI Biological Laboratory in Salisbury Cove, I know of three reliable sources of information about this. First, Diver Ed of Bar Harbor gives lucid lectures about the status of the shallow and deepwater bottom at many sites around MDI. His photo-video presentations vividly demonstrate the extent to which “clear cutting” has occurred by dragging operations nearby, rendering the bottom little more than a gravel parking lot where the main food for all organisms is the bait that is placed in lobster traps.
Second, a full-time marine biologist at the lab, Jane Disney, is a renowned expert in ecological distribution and the many biological roles of “eel grass” – a flowering plant (not an alga) that grows in salt water just below the low-tide line and in important patches protected from dragging only by rock ledges, and only as far down as light will penetrate. The larval stages of many animals live in those patches. How would presence of a pier affect the distribution of eel grass in the bay?
I suggest that the opinions of local lobstermen would be very valuable to hear. The proposed pier would wipe out a sizeable area for lobstering, and increased numbers and sizes of cruise ships would make lobstering very risky.
What businesses and local workers stand to profit from landing increased numbers of cruise ship passengers? As I have observed ship passengers around town, it appears that they spend money on bus tours and on a few trinkets, but on very little else. They eat their big meals and sleep on ship.
Perhaps the town of Bar Harbor would pocket increased ship berthing fees. However, the increased densities of people during summer months already seem very high. A lengthened pier would increase numbers even more. Who will profit from that?
In driving on Route 3 from Hulls Cove to Bar Harbor, the view of the bay and the harbor from the bluffs currently is a non-cluttered vista of the Porcupine Islands. A pier extending for half a mile out from shore with large cruise ships berthing on each side would not be attractive in my opinion.
Gary W. Conrad