Friday, July 15, 2011

Bio Wandering Off the Coast Of Maine

Well here it is, mid-July, and finally I have the inclination to add to my story, to add to the bio-wanderings of an itinerant biology teacher.  How can I keep secret all the biology going on around me?  Well, it seems it is easier to go out to look at the world around me than to share it's beauty with everyone. But with that sort of apology said, here is what I've been seeing.

As you can see from the embedded 360 degree view above I am on the coast of Maine.  Sometimes we see the world as a picture.  Static, often beautiful, but still a snapshot of what is really happening.  As I look out the windows of the the Artist's Cottage perched on the rugged rocky coast of Mid-coast Maine, the world is anything but static.  If I were to sit here on the granite and schist outcroppings for a full 24 hours (I'm tempted, but rocks are hard and 24hours is a long time,) I would see the changing tides, the passing clouds, the constant but varied waves and swells of the water that seems to surround our small haven on the cliff.  I can look out at the seal rocks that come and go twice a day.  I watch the distant Eastern Egg Rock disappear as the fog moves shoreward and then mystically (or is that mistically?) reappear on the horizon.  I continually look out at Eastern Egg Rock to catch site of the bird blinds that show against the distant horizon.  I'm really desperately looking for the Puffin parents that are making their continual foraging flights to bring food back to this summer's nestlings.  Of course, I don't see the Puffins from the shore, they are too small and the island is too far away, but I constantly try.  I do see the Cormorants, Great Blackback Gulls, Black Guillemots, Eider Ducks, Ospreys, Laughing Gulls, Herring Gulls and Blue Herons, but to see the Puffins you have to take a ride out to the island aboard one of the Puffin cruise boats that operate from New Harbor and Port Clyde.  I have done this in the past, but I want to have one land next to me on the rocks.  It didn't happen yet.    I watch the zones appear and disappear as the tides proceed and recede on their "published" schedules. 

Sometimes at low tide I see the mussels and the long leafy brown algae and kelp.  But I know in a few hours all of this will be submerged.  Lost to sight.  The critters depend on this.  They can only take the dryness of low tide for a short period of time.  They have evolved "strategies for survival" though.  Actually this sounds like they changed in order to survive as if they knew something.  We know that the changes came about and the changes allowed survival, but it is easy to fall into the understanding that things  change so that they can then survive.  Sometimes I think about this.  This "evolutionary thinking."  Sometimes I just look out hoping to see the stray whale or two.  We have seen small whales from the cottage in the past, but this year I have only spotted a dolphin wandering across my windows on the coastal world.  (Of course, dolphins ARE small whales, but I want the big ones to appear--you know, like the Puffin on the rocks.)  

This year we have been treated to a magnificent "dynamic wonder of nature."  The full moon of July has slowly grown for us.  Each night we have hoped for clear skyes and low humidity so the moon could light up the night sky and glisten off the ocean for a few hours.  So far we have been treated to a wonderful scene for two nights (one night it wasn't quite full, but still wonderful.)
Seeing the dynamic world is not the only way to sense that it is constantly changing.  The beauty of being able to stay on the edge of the ocean on a cliff overlooking the tides and rocks of the coast is the sounds that come along for the ride.  The rocks are washed with big waves, small waves, tumultuous waves and crashing waves all day and all night long.  Each "style of wave" has its own sounds.  Crashing and crushing, wafting and slapping. They constantly change and yet are constantly there.  It is a sound I recorded, but will not be able to appreciate until I return to the rocky coast.  Add to the constant waves, the occasional song of the Song Sparrow that visits throughout the day and the 'laughing' of the gulls as they light upon the rocks, and the dynamics are changed again.  As I try to photograph the Song Sparrow I listen to his call.  I stop noticing the crashing waves.  We all have selective hearing.  Today the waves are always there.  Hard to notice.  Tomorrow as we pack up and move west toward the mountains I will surely hear the waves and will certainly miss them next week.  They are constant, but short lived in my changing world.  Waves here, now, almost ignored.  A great memory next week as my ears are filled with the sounds of my own woods, my own back yard.  But now I'm still on the coast and have only a few hours to hear, and see and smell (did I mention the smells?  WOW!)  So off I go to take in the coastal world around me for a few hours more . 

1 comment:

Stewart M said...

Hi there - strange that some of the things you have written here remind me of the thoughts I was having in Queensland - we were on Magnetic Island. The way the soundscape (esp. at night) was so different from the one at home, the way that waves some different at night.

But, as you may guess, this will all be expanded on elsewhere!

Cheers SM