All Good Things Must Come To an End

It saddens me to believe that this amazing opportunity has ended. I had a truly amazing time. The amount of knowledge that I learned, not only about the unbelievable world that I live in, but also about myself is tremendous. I want to thank a few people that made this possible. Many thanks to Josie and Kim from the OVF for giving me this opportunity. Thanks to Stacy, Paul, Logan and Jim for living with me on "the compound." We had a great little community. Thank you so much to my friends and family for the support and kindness. Finally, I want to thank all of the people that I had the pleasure to meet over the last couple months. I wish you all the best.

Until next time.... Meg

 

 

OVF 13th Annual Mystery Walk

As part of the OVF's usual summer programing, they host an exclusive Mystery Walk to an undisclosed location. Naturally, I was extreamly excited as this was not my first Mystery Walk with the OVF. Per usual we were all to meet at the OVF town pavilion. Once we were there, roll call was taken and Kim gave us a few hints -three white stones, a whelk egg case and an onion bag. She also hinted that it was one of the oldest places on Block Island. We all wrote our guesses down on a slip of paper and I collected the potentially valuable guesses. We were then escorted into taxi's and whisked away to our starting point.

The taxi's let us off at South East Road. From there we took the right-of-way to the shoreline through both easements and Block Island Land Trust land. The scenery was gorgeous. Beautiful Rosa ragosa (beach rose) dotted the dunes. Of course there were gulls, catbirds, turns and cormorants, but there were also ruddy turn-stones, sandpipers and dowagers. But, we still were not at our destination.

Once we made it to the beach, we walked north along the coast to the Old Harbor Point. As we continued to walk, you could see a depression facing the BI cliff side. The depression was littered with phragmites signifying the presence of fresh water. Sure enough, we had just stumbled across Spring House Pond. Just below the pond depression was a dark, striated piece of cliff side. This, as I was about to find out, was in fact our destination.

Dr. Shusheng Hu of the Peabody Museum of Natural History was in our company, unannounced to the rest of the group. He was there to explain to us that the darker of the striations was actually petrified and pressurized wood that had been morphologically altered into lignite. The exposed area was about 100 million years old! (Thus the oldest are of BI.) We stood there in awe for about 10 minutes, then we took a group photo. From there we continued along the coastline towards Ballard's Restaurant and took the Block Island Land Trust path back up to the pavilion. It was great! Kim really outdid herself. 

In Order To Think Like A Bird, One Must Be A Bird

The OVF hosts a bird banding program on Tuesday mornings at the pavilion in town.  Joining Kim, Erica and I at the bird banding program are Malia and Bridget. Malia and Bridget are members of the Yale School of Public Health. They are studying the ecology of Lyme disease. Since ticks often find themselves latched to birds, they take this opportunity to remove the ticks from the birds that Kim bands in order to study tick borne diseases further. 

Somehow the topic of hair feathers came up while we were cleaning up after the bird banding program. Naturally, we all decided that we needed to have feathers put into our hair. Sooner rather than later, a date and time was set for this occasion.

 Erica (left) and I displaying our hair feathers .

Erica (left) and I displaying our hair feathers .

About two days later, we all met at a local shop to face our first challenge - what color feathers should we get? I decided to go with nice, natural-looking feathers. Kim went with both a blue and purple feather. Erica elected to get green and blue feathers. Malia went with one green and one yellow feather. Finally, Bridget decided to keep it natural and picked a brown spotted feather.  Lickity-split the feathers were placed, one at a time, into our hair. They looked great!

 Kim, Malia, Erica, Bridget and Meg (Left to Right) showing off their great hair feathers.

Kim, Malia, Erica, Bridget and Meg (Left to Right) showing off their great hair feathers.

Who says an internship can't be fun? Not only is the work itself enjoyable, but the people you meet and the places you go are what makes an internship that much better.

*Special thanks to MarMar who put these beautiful feathers into our hair and letting us take pictures in her amazing store.*

Youth Conservation League

Last week the OVF had a visit from a group of young environmental enthusiasts. They call themselves the Youth Conservation League. They function as a program of the RI Natural History Survey. Their goal is to travel all over the state of Rhode Island in order to assist local community organizations with invasive species removal. The OVF has had a problem with invasive species all throughout its property in town. We have mild invasives such as phragmities, multiflora rose and autumn olive. However, in the last few years we have seen an absolutely horrible invasive species called Black Swallow-wort take root and flourish.

 

Black Swallow-wort, a plant in the Milkweed family, poses a huge problem for the surrounding plants and the Monarch Butterfly population. Monarchs are unable to determine the difference between the common Milkweed plant and the Black Swallow-wort. (Science believes that it is a chemical signal secreted by the plant).  It is common knowledge that milkweed contains a toxin that is poisonous to many other animals. The Monarch Butterflies are able to eat the Milkweed, metabolize and store the toxin, acting as a defense against predators.  The Black Swallow Wart is much more potent than the Milkweed. The Monarchs eat the Swallow-wort and are unable to process the toxin, thus leaving the caterpillars unable to continue their lifecycle by forming a chrysalis.

 

The Youth Conservation League came over to the island for a few days and the OVF was able to get their assistance for a few hours to help us remove some of the Black Swallow-wort from the grounds.  In doing so, I had the opportunity to work with them hand in hand. Suzanne Enser and assistant leader Taylor Ryan led them. Some of the other members include Gage Whiblen, Sky Cameron, Aurora Weil, Ben Cuell and Jaz Gonzalez.  

 Group photo of the YCL in front of the OVF pavillion

Group photo of the YCL in front of the OVF pavillion

 

With their help they were able to remove almost all of the Black Swallow-wort on the property. For more information on the Youth Conservation League visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/RINHSYCL

 Some YCL members and I (blue shirt) removing some Black Swallow Wart from the middle of the field.

Some YCL members and I (blue shirt) removing some Black Swallow Wart from the middle of the field.

Sense of Wonder: Night Walk

Last Saturday I went on the first  of a few "Sense of Wonder Night Walks" with the OVF. The only words that I can use to describe this experience are incredible, eye-opening and refreshing. We met just after sunset at the Clay Head Trail opening. There were about 14 in the group, not including Kim and myself.

As a kaleidoscope of colors filled the sky, Kim began to introduce the theme of the walk. She was inspired by a Rachel Carson mediation in which Carson observes the curiosity and natural excitement of her nephew with the world around him. Carson's nephew's "sense of wonder" was something that she came to admire. Kim, in an attempt to rekindle her own, as well as to encourage others to evolve their "sense of wonder",  developed this walk. Since it is conducted at dusk or later, one looses their sense of sight in an attempt to utilize the other senses.

As soon as we stepped foot onto the trail I began to notice the difference in feeling from the compacted sand ground of the parking lot and the supple grass of the trail. The feeling of the air changed as well as we approached a canopy. The air became cooler, damper; as if we were in a rainforest. This part of the trail also allowed for some great sounds, not only did I become aware of the stomping sound my foot made as my boot made contact with the earth, but I also noticed the faint bellowing of the ferry.

We soon rounded the corner and found our way out of the canopy and into an area of low beach grasses and shrubs. We were on the backside of a dune. By this time my nose was filled by the gorgeous aroma of the crisp ocean. My feet began to sink into the sandy soil. My ears took note of the rhythmic sounds of the crashing waves and rolling stones associated with the ocean's currents. We crested the dune. Right in front of me stood the most beautiful moon I have ever seen. Its huge golden glow against the vibrant magenta of the sky was truly breathtaking. I tried to fumble with my phone to capture the moment, but no picture that I took could do it justice.

 Moonrise looking onto ocean at end of Clay Head trail.

Moonrise looking onto ocean at end of Clay Head trail.

At this point, Kim had arranged a special treat for us - a beach fire. A few group members and I built a fire pit and subsequently a fire, as the other group members ventured on to see what they could discover. This fire added a whole new dimension to the senses on the beach, from its warm glow, to its consistent crackle, my "sense of wonder" was at its peak.

Walkers Helena and DK (left) and Kaleigh and David (center) enjoying the lovely beach fire.

I stood in front of the fire for about 10 minutes, taking it all in. By that time it was time for us to extinguish the fire and make the return trek to the parking lot. Although this leg of the journey was a bit quicker and not as surprising, it still came with a set of interesting occurrences. For starters, the fireflies were out in numbers. Sparkles littered the brush on either side of the trail as a result of these fascinating creatures. My favorite part of the entire experience was when I  crested the highest hill on the trail. I took a quick glance over my shoulder expecting to see a few walkers behind me with flashlights, but what I saw, I will never forget.  I saw the most beautiful landscape. The moon's reflection danced on the waves in the background, fireflies dotted the shrubs in the mid ground, the deep blue silhouettes of the small trees in the foreground was too much beauty for me to take in all at once. I stopped -- dead in my tracks. I stood there for what seemed to be a couple of hours, but in reality was about thirty seconds. Again, I attempted to take a photo with no luck.

 Moon overlooking Clay Head Trail

Moon overlooking Clay Head Trail

It was at this point where I knew I had located my own "sense of wonder." When the world froze and my head began to silence, only searching for the next external que. A smell? A taste? A feeling? A sound? What did the future hold? What was out there? It was this perpetual cycle of unsatisfied curiosity that Carson was speaking about. So, I challenge you to venture out and cultivate your own childish "Sense of Wonder." You never know what you may unveil.

Ocean View Foundation Field Staff

Now is better than ever to introduce you all to the Ocean View Foundation Field Staff.  Before we begin, I would like to mention that by "Field Staff" I mean that these are the lovely ladies that you will be encountering at any of the OVF's many daily and special programs. Let us start with the foundation's youngest field worker, Lucy Rigby-Leather.

 Summer Field Workers: Going left to right, Erica, Meg and Lucy posing outside of the library.

Summer Field Workers: Going left to right, Erica, Meg and Lucy posing outside of the library.

Lucy, a lifetime islander, is 11 years old and is entering the 6th grade at the Block Island School in the fall. Her favorite color is orange. She has been working with the Ocean View Foundation for one year now, and has plans to stay with the Foundation for as long as she can. Her favorite fruit is strawberries. In her spare time, she enjoys playing soccer, drawing and reading. When I asked her what her favorite book was she answered, "Well, I haven't read them all, so I don't know yet," exemplifying that she is wise beyond her years. Her favorite OVF program is "Stepping Stones" on Thursday mornings. Her family consists of her mother and father and her hamster, named Pepper.  She has a reason to like every season, therefore she has no favorite. Interestingly enough, her best subject in school is Science.

The next youngest field staff member of the Foundation is Erica Simkins. She is 13 years old and will be entering the 8th grade in the fall. She is a summer islander and currently lives in Massachusetts, but will be moving to Florida before the school year begins. This is her 5th year now helping the Ocean View Foundation. She likes to play soccer, swim and surf.  Her favorite Ocean View Foundation program is "Bird Banding" on Tuesday mornings. Erica's banding skills are second-to-none and follows in Kim's footsteps.  She is fond of pastel blue and turquoise. Her favorite food is Chicken Marbella. She also wanted me to include that her favorite fruit was watermelon. Her favorite book is If I Stay  by Gayle Foreman. As for siblings, she has one, an 18 year-old brother named Steven. Her favorite season is Spring.  Science, like Lucy, is her best subject in school.

In the general organization of things, the information on me, Meghan Bernier would be placed here. As not to repeat myself, I will instruct you to check out my first blog post entitled, "Meet Me: Meghan Bernier" if you are curious about my likes and dislikes.

Last, but certainly not least, is our fearless leader, Kim Gaffett. Kim has been with the Ocean View Foundation since it's beginnings in 2000. Her favorite colors are a toss-up between yellow and blue. She grew up on Block Island and has lived here for most of her life. She attended Franklin-Pierce University and then transferred to the University of Puget Sound. Her favorite subjects while in school were Biology and, of course, Ornithology.  After school, she lived in Seattle for a time, before returning to Block Island. Her favorite season is Fall. She has four siblings, one brother and three sisters. As for pets she has a few. She has a pair of chickens named Jupiter and Juno, and they recently had two chicks Mars and Minerva. Her favorite read is Encounters with the Archdruid by John McPhee. Her favorite programs are "Bird Banding" and the "Andy's Way Bird Walk" on Fridays.

So now that you know us, we want to get to know you! Please stop by at one of our weekly or special programs and introduce yourself: maybe your favorite color is blue, or you like Chicken Marbella. Whatever the case maybe, we would love to hear about it!

.

Common BI Mollusks

Recently the beaches have opened for the 2014 shellfish season. Interestingly enough, Block Island is home to a great variety of mollusks and shellfish. Here is a rundown of the island's most common mollusks. But first, let's define what a mollusk is. According to Merriam-Webster, a mollusk is "any of a large phylum (Mollusca) of invertebrate animals (as snails, clams or squids) with a soft unsegmented body  usually enclosed in a calcareous shell." To put it simply a mollusk is broadly speaking a shellfish. The following is a list of common mollusks that you will encounter on Block Island.

1.) Quahog (pronounced co-hog) - You may be familiar with this one. It is one of the most fished mollusks on the island. Often, found in rather sandy/muddy beaches the quahog is an iconic New England mollusk. The Quahog is the most important ingredients in New England Clam Chowder. Not only is this mollusk used as a main ingredient in food, they can live for more than 30 years! The purple coloring on the inside of a Quahog shell was used as currency and jewelery by the Wampanoag people. They called the beads wampum.

 Quahog using its foot to move across the ocean's floor

Quahog using its foot to move across the ocean's floor

2.) Razor Clam - Razor clams named after their long narrow shape are are common to Block Island. These interesting looking mollusks are found on sandy beaches in Northern Europe, Eastern Canada and as far south as New Jersey. Like the Quahog, the Razor clam also has a foot as a locomotive organ. The razor clam uses its foot to bury itself out of harms way. The razor clam, due to its comparatively thin shell, is a favorite feast for many shore birds. Therefore, depth is the clam's best ally.

 Razor clam shell

Razor clam shell

3.) Atlantic Ribbed Muscle - These muscles are native to the Atlantic coast of North America. They can be found in the intertidal zones as far north as the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Canada to as far south as the eastern coast of Florida. They have specialized organs called byssal threads that help to adhere them to hard surfaces. These threads are so strong that they can withstand hurricane force winds (something that we experienced over the last couple of days). These ribbed muscles are commonly found in clusters of three or more, a behavior probably evolved to  aid with reproduction.

 Atlantic Ribbed Muscle

Atlantic Ribbed Muscle

4.) Common Periwinkle - The Common Periwinkle is robust intertidal species of edible sea snail with a dark and occasionally banded shell. Periwinkles are ubiquitous in the Atlantic Ocean and are native to the rocky shores of the northeastern states. Unlike the previously mentioned species, this mollusk has gills and a specialized hydrophobic trap door called a operculum used to keep hydrated even when away from water for extended periods of time. Periwinkles are often found at low tide clinging to the side of rocks or seaweed.

 A common periwinkle with it's operculum open.

A common periwinkle with it's operculum open.

5.) Bay Scallop- Although this one maybe a bit more difficult to find, I assure you they are out there. The Bay Scallop spends most of its time in eelgrass beds and sandy/muddy bottomed subtidal zones. They are one of the few mollusks to filter feed above water. Unlike any other creature above, when threatened the bay scallop swims away from its predators by forcing water in and out of its body. One of the most unique features of the Bay Scallop is that it has 30-40 bright blue eyes along the edge of the shell. It uses these eyes to detect movements and shadows to assist with predator identification. They reach sexual maturity at about 1 year of age and rarely live past the age of 3.

 Bay Scallop opened to see rows of blue eyes.

Bay Scallop opened to see rows of blue eyes.

Please note that as the next month progresses, this list may grow to accommodate  mollusks that seem to become more popular. For now, go out, explore and see how many you can locate! ENJOY!

Osprey Banding

Block Island is lucky enough to be the home of a nesting pair of Osprey. This Osprey nest has been occupied by nesting pairs for a few years now, and the OVF's own Kim Gaffett  (with the help of Erica Simkin, a young bird enthusiast and part-time EcoWorker) has had the opportunity to band almost all of the Osprey chicks hatched here.

Osprey Gallery:

Osprey, or Pandion haliaetus, are large fish-eating hawks that are usually found near a coastline. A full grown adult can weigh anywhere from three to four pounds and has an average wingspan of five feet. Other identifying features include a hooked beak and curled talons. Although their plumage can vary between individuals, they all have a deep brown stripe on the side of the face going through the eye.

Osprey are skilled hunters. With a diet primarily consisting of fish, osprey are able to dive into the water from a height of up to 130 feet! Usually, they will grab the fish at a horizontal orientation and while in flight, using an opposable outer toe, they rotate their catch to allow for better aerodynamics in flight. Their specialized feet also have sharp spines on the soles for a better grasp of their prey. Male Osprey are the primary hunter for the osprey family, while the female tends to remain at the nest.

Osprey mate for life. They are very adaptable birds and nest in both natural and artificial structures. They begin breeding in mid-spring. The eggs are incubated for about 40 days. Chicks fledge in the early summer when they are about 2 months old.  For the next three weeks they tend to remain close to the nesting site and depend on their parents for food.

Osprey are said to be an indicator of health and productivity of an ecosystem. If an area is polluted, animals that hold lower positions in the food chain will digest small amounts of the pollutant. Osprey, an animal that is quite high on the food chain, will accumulate more toxins in their bodies as they ingest more of the toxin through prey that is lower on the food chain. This phenomenon is commonly known as bio-accumulation. Larger animals are able to effectively determine the condition of the natural environment in which they inhabit. Therefore an area with a low or declining population should be investigated for a potential environmental issue. So, let's keep Block Island clean and free of pollutants, so that we can have many more nesting pairs of this extraordinary bird on the island!

*All of the above information was gleaned from friendoftheosprey.org. Feel free to check out their site by clicking here.

4th Grade Garden

On Monday, the last day of school for the children at the Block Island School, the 4th graders (soon to be 5th graders) planted a variety of plants that they had grown from seed into the OVF community garden. Each year the 4th graders choose a few veggies and flowers to grow from seed. Throughout this process the children learn how to care for a plant and garden, the life-cycle of a plant and the importance of agriculture and local produce. As the summer progresses, the students will have garden "work" days about once a week where they will make a scarecrow, weed, water and harvest the summer's yield. It was so fun to see all of the pride and excitement the kids had for this project.

 One of the students and I at the community garden planting.

One of the students and I at the community garden planting.

One of the most important aspects of "island living" is the ability for one to be as self-sufficient as possible. Gardens allow the owner to personalize what they want to get out of the garden (whether it be flowers or food) and to what extent they want the garden to be (large and labor intensive or small and low maintenance). Gardens also allow the individual to control what they are eating in terms of fertilizers and pesticides.

All in all, this student based community garden is something to admire. Lucky for you, you can! All you have to do is go to the Ocean View Pavilion (the entrance is off Water Street, past the Post Office, between Ernie's and Ballard's) and turn right after the cigarette butt statue. Walk in between the two sets of stairs left from the Ocean View Hotel, and onto the boardwalk. Follow the boardwalk to the end and there is the garden! Great job 4th Grade on a fantastic garden!

 The BI 4th graders posing for a group photo in their garden.

The BI 4th graders posing for a group photo in their garden.

Crazy-as-a-Coot End of the Season Bird Walk

I was lucky enough to join 19 ladies and gents on June 16th at 8 am for a fantastic bird watching experience. We met at Coast Guard Road and carpooled to Cormorant Cove. Just as we exited the vehicles, a pair of lovely American oystercatchers (Haematopus palliatus) landed on the beach. They were perfect! The stereotypical probing of the oyster catcher along the beach was nothing compared to the victory of the hunt. We observed their unique hunting methods and amazing morphology. One of the most obvious identifying features of the oyster catcher is their vibrant orange feet and bill.

 Photo credit: http://wild-tracking.blogspot.com/2010/07/oystercatcher-chased-him-away.html

Photo credit: http://wild-tracking.blogspot.com/2010/07/oystercatcher-chased-him-away.html

From there we began our descent to the beach.  Overhead flew a of flight of tree swallows (Hirondelle bicolore). The flight pattern of the swallows is quite unique, as is the shape of their wings.

 Flight pattern of the tree swallow approaching a landing. Photo credit: http://people.eku.edu/ritchisong/554notes2.html

Flight pattern of the tree swallow approaching a landing. Photo credit: http://people.eku.edu/ritchisong/554notes2.html

As indicative of the swallow family, the wing has a relatively high aspect ratio (wing length vs. width). Since the wing is much longer than it is wide, swallows are able to generate great speed with very little effort. In addition to that, the tapered wing allows for less drag, increasing bird speed as well.

We saw other typical BI backyard birds such as catbirds, robins, song sparrows, house sparrows, cardinals and one lone cow bird. As for shore birds, we saw a ton of gulls. Against popular belief there is no bird that is a sea gull. Look for your self in any bird reference book. (It was a shock to me as well.) However, there are a variety of gulls that patrol the New England coastline. Among the most common on Block Island is the Herring Gull. Some of the key identifying features of the Herring Gull include their grey backs and black tails. Most Herring Gulls also have a red marking on the underside of their beaks.

 Herring Gull of the coast of Massachusetts. Photo credit:   www.bittsandbytes.net

Herring Gull of the coast of Massachusetts. Photo credit: www.bittsandbytes.net

The second most common gull on the Block is the Great Black-backed Gull. Needless to say this gull has a black back and is noticeably larger than the Herring Gull. Like the Herring Gull some of these gulls have the red spot on the underside of their bills as well.

 Great Black-backed Gull. Photo credit: www.symbolicmessangers.com

Great Black-backed Gull. Photo credit: www.symbolicmessangers.com

It was not a surprise for us to see all of these gulls. Right across the coast guard channel was a known gull nesting site. We were even fortunate enough to see a pair of gull chicks, so young their plumage was still fluffy down. Although some see gulls as the rats of the beach, I find them particularly fascinating and intelligent creatures.

At that time it had started to drizzle a little bit so we decided to call it a day and head to Bethany's Airport Diner (so good I had to mention it again!) for some post-birding breakfast. The regular Coot Walkers make it a point to work up an appetite and eat breakfast at Bethany's each week. This week was special though. This was the last Crazy-as-a-Coot walk for the season. As a special treat, Bethany made a cake and her mother (A regular Coot Walker) wrote the most adorable poem.  It was a truly special moment. All of these wonderful ladies and gentlemen take the time out of their busy lives to appreciate and take notice of the wonderful creatures that they share their homes with. Not only that, but most of them also keep gardens and bird feeders so that homeostasis is maintained. Thank you so much Crazy- as-a-Coot Walkers for allowing me to experience this lovely community, rather ecosystem, event.

Horseshoe Crabs: A Prehistoric Facination

Recently, Kim has asked me to become an expert on a truly fascinating creature, the horseshoe crab. After about a hour and a half of research, I became enamored by this illustrious, prehistoric creature. Needless to say, I had to share some horseshoe crab facts and fictions.

 Me with a horseshoe crab found on Andy's Way.

Me with a horseshoe crab found on Andy's Way.

1.) There are only 4 species of horseshoe crabs that inhabit the globe today, only one of which is found in North America. This species, Limulus polyphemus, can be found throughout the entire Atlantic Coast.

2.) Horseshoe crabs are not crabs at all. They are more closely related to the arachnids than the crustaceans (think spiders or scorpions rather than lobsters or shrimp).

3.) Ancestors of the horseshoe crab date back almost 450 million years. Just to put that into perspective, that is 200 million years before the first dinosaur came into existence.  Remarkably, the horseshoe crab's unique morphology has changed very little throughout that time.

4.) Almost always thought of as being dangerous due to their spine-like tail, horseshoe crabs are harmless. Their tail is predominately used to orient themselves upright if they are accidentally overturned.

  Limulus polyphemus  on the coast of New Jersey

Limulus polyphemus on the coast of New Jersey

5.) Horseshoe crabs have an interesting mating ritual. They nest in massive aggregations in the spring and summer, usually on mid-Atlantic beaches. Male horseshoe crabs orient themselves parallel to the coastline and cut off the females as they approach the shore. Once the male locates a female, he attaches himself to her using his specialized front claws. From there, they both ascend to the beach. The males fertilize the eggs as the female lays them on the sand in what many call a nest. This nesting activity usually takes place during higher tides, within three days of a full moon. The horseshoe crab larvae surface from the nest several weeks after the eggs are laid.

  Limulus polyphemus  mating off the coast of Delaware in 2012.

Limulus polyphemus mating off the coast of Delaware in 2012.

6.) Mature horseshoe crabs spend the majority of their time on sandy bottoms of intertidal flats and feed on a variety of invertebrates. They use their legs to pulverize their food before ingestion due to their lack of mandibles and teeth. They also have gizzards to assist in the pre-stomach digestion process.

7.) Horseshoe crabs are a vital part of the coastal food web. It is estimated that horseshoe crab larvae account for over 50% of the diet of many shorebirds; not to mention the fact that fish also prey on the horseshoe crab larvae.

8.) For the last couple decades, the blood of the horseshoe crab has been vital to the biomedical industry. The blood is copper-based and a metallic blue in color due to a unique amino acid known as Limulus amebocyte lysate (LAL).

  Limulus polyphemus  getting bled. Researchers maintain that it is virtually harmless to the animal. Horseshoe crabs can give blood up to four times a year.

Limulus polyphemus getting bled. Researchers maintain that it is virtually harmless to the animal. Horseshoe crabs can give blood up to four times a year.

This amino acid has properties which coagulate blood in the presence of small amounts of bacterial toxins. This allows researchers to introduce the amino acid onto medical equipment and into intravenous drugs to test their sterility.

9.) Horseshoe crabs have very primitive compound eyes with monochromatic vision. The eye of the horseshoe crab is compartmentalized, allowing researchers to stimulate and repress nerve endings leading to huge advances in optic and neurological research.

10.) Although these "living fossils" have been around for a very long time, resent research has determined that the horseshoe crab is declining in numbers. Scientists are unsure of the exact factors leading to this decline; however, they attribute most of it to a degradation of habitat. (Unfortunately, man plays a huge role in this downfall.) In an attempt to stabilize the horseshoe population, The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission developed a Horseshoe Crab Fishery Management Plan. Within the plan, it requires "all Atlantic Coastal states to identify horseshoe crab nesting beaches. (FFECC, 2014)" They have also initiated the "Turn Me Over Campaign", with a main objective of encouraging the public to assist flipped over horseshoe crabs by holding them on either side of their shell and orienting them upright. 

**All of the information and pictures used within this post were gathered from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. For more information about the horseshoe crab or what you can do to help the cause, please visit their website at www.myfwc.com.

Preparing for the Masses

I arrived on the Block on Monday, June 9th. I quickly moved into my summer abode and felt right at home. The sun was barely visible between the blankets of fog that encase this little oasis. I was given a day to settle in.

The next morning I awoke to a cacophony of songbirds outside my window. Instinctively, I got ready for the day. My first task - Breakfast. I was to meet Kim at Bethany's Airport diner (one of the best places to grab breakfast in all of New England.) We ordered, ate, and subsequently went over the week's comprehensive schedule. In addition to each day's activities I was assigned weekly tasks.

The first and my personal favorite, "Explore Block Island and generate questions." Ask and you shall receive! It was so much fun to get reacquainted with the island. Since I have been summering here since I was a little girl, I believed that I knew every inch of the island like the back of my hand. I rapidly realized this was not the case.

My second task was to research and retain knowledge about the Ocean View Hotel and the natural history of Block Island. Luckily, my home was equipped with a variety of books to assist me in accomplishing this feat. Each one of these books I highly recommend (although I have only been through about half of them!) The most informative, in my opinion, The Outer Lands (its in the middle of the stack). It does a fantastic job of outlining the ecology and nature of the New England coastal flora and fauna.

 A little light reading. Getting prepared to be inundated by tons of questions! Ask away!!

A little light reading. Getting prepared to be inundated by tons of questions! Ask away!!

All in all, my first few days have been amazing! Already I have learned so much. I can't wait until next week when Kim and begin the prep-work for all of the fantastic weekly programs.

Until next time, 

Meg

Meet Me: 2014 Summer EcoWorker & Tech Training

  Day 1 at the OVF Pavilion

Day 1 at the OVF Pavilion

Day 1. I can't believe that it's finally here. The first day that I can officially call myself the 2014 OVF Summer EcoWorker. I guess I should take this time to formally introduce myself. My name is Meghan Bernier. I am a Junior at the University of Massachusetts- Amherst. At UMass I had the opportunity  to design my own major, and in doing so, I created  Environmental and Infectious Disease Epidemiology.  

Block Island has been my summer oasis for as long as I can remember. As a little girl I can vividly recall the enormous amounts of fun I had participating in the Ocean View Foundation's activities. I dreamed of becoming the Foundation's Summer EcoWorker, and this year that dream was realized.

Technology was the topic of today. With a newly revamped website, Kim Gaffett (the Director of OVF) and I needed to master the new user interface. In addition to that, we also updated the OVF's social media presence with overwhelmingly positive results! I can't wait to capture and share the rest of my experiences with you all!

Until next time...Meghan