Category magazine articles

Ice Age survivors: a tale of two land-locked fish

Maine lakes are home to two evolutionary wonders of the animal kingdom, Arctic char and landlocked salmon, related species of fish that exist in very few places. They descend from a common ancestor that lived millions of years ago. Evolution took them on diverging pathways during repeated ice ages. The char stayed farther north, swimming […]

Fish return to a restored Penobscot

Between the head of tide above Bangor to where it widens into the bay at Searsport, the Penobscot River shifts from a flowing freshwater waterway banked by cedar and pine to a brackish, wave-lapped marsh with a rocky shoreline. In this estuary, salt concentrations fluctuate as wind and tide push water and sediments back and […]

The Secret Life of Eels

OTHER MIGRATORY FISH get more attention than the American eel. Salmon is the king of fish; the alewife, the fish that feeds all; shad, the founding fish. Sturgeon are dinosaurs; smelt, the ice shack fish. Yet, historically, the eel was more widespread and abundant than any of these in the northeast United States. The undeserved […]

handwritten notebooks

The Champlain Society Transcriptions

In the Spring 2015 issue of Friends of Acadia Journal, Maureen Fournier, a seasonal ranger for Acadia, and I describe the experience of reading and digitizing the nineteenth-century notebooks of the Champlain Society. From their notes, we can trace their movements across the island as they collected specimens, made observations, and talked to local residents […]

The President’s Salmon in The Boston Globe

A preview of the forthcoming The President’s Salmon can be found in today’s Boston Globe Magazine. Politics, preservation, and salmon fishing: an annual rite of the Penobscot River sporting world brought a Maine angler and the year’s first Atlantic salmon to the president’s doorstep.

Maine’s Wild Oysters

Scientists are studying isolated oyster grounds in Maine’s Sheepscot River that may date back to the last ice age. Meanwhile, as the aquaculture industry has grown and coastal water temperatures have warmed, cultured oysters have begun to multiply on their own elsewhere, particularly in the brackish waters of the Damariscotta River. Both kinds of “wild” […]

Influenced by Nature

In May 1871, Charles William Eliot had been president of Harvard College barely two years, and a widower just as long. He needed a break, for himself and his two young sons, a “thorough vacation” in the open air, as he wrote to a friend. He found means in Jessie, a 33-foot sloop, and began […]

Bringing the Ocean’s Power Home

For the inaugural “Life on the Coast” issue of Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors, I covered the launch of Ocean Renewable Power Company’s first grid-connected tidal energy device in Cobscook Bay. I’ve been following the issue of tidal power in the Gulf of Maine since the emergence of new data and updated federal regulations opened […]

Sturgeon Moon Rising

In June 2006 I was in the boat with University of Maine researchers when they caught the second and third shortnose sturgeon in the Penobscot River estuary. It was the first sign of the persistence–or re-appearance–of a species thought to be extinct. My article about the science and history of sturgeon, Sturgeon Moon Rising (PDF), […]

image of Narraguagus River

The Can Do Crew

In December 2011 Atlantic Salmon Journal asked me to report on activities of the Downeast Salmon Federation in eastern Maine, a grassroots organization that has overseen the restoration hopes for salmon and other sea-run fish since 1982, when local anglers banded together in order to pool resources and regain some political clout, which had been […]