Category Archives: Bowdoin Marine Science Semester

BMSS 2016 Independent Project Symposium 12/16/16

Welcome and Introduction (2:15pm)
Session 1: The Intertidal (2:30pm)

Testing desiccation stresses and visual predation as mechanisms for maintaining a potential color polymorphism cline (Sam Walkes ’18)

Is the European Periwinkle invasion really from Europe? (Caroline Carter ’19)

Saving the snails: how feeding preferences of Carcinus maenas on Littorina littorea may determine the survival of Ilyanassa obsoleta (Meret Beutler ’19)

Predation of the softshell clam Mya arenaria by the nemertean worm Cerebratulus lacteus (Elizabeth Givens ’17)

Session 2: Aquaculture and Fisheries (3:45pm)

Does Mytilus edulis ingest and process the microplastics in Harpswell Sound?                 (Anna Blaustein ’19)

Finding an Easy and Efficient Method of Growing Microalgage for Biofuel: The Effect of Difference in Light and Nitrogen on Phaeodactylum tricornutum Lipid Production         (Maya Morduch-Toubman ’18)

Multiple Species Interactions in Harpswell Sound Lobster Traps (Isaac Schuchat ’19)

Session 3: Ocean Acidification and Environmental Change (4:45pm) 

Fundulus heteroclitus lateralization efficacy in response to rising sea temperatures and ocean acidification (Jonathan Harrison ’19)

The Effects of Climate Change Stressors on the Sea Star, Asterias forbesi, Regeneration (Amber Rock ’19)

The Effects of Ocean Acidification on Shell Resource and Assessment Behavior of Hermit Crab Pagarus longicarpus (Jackie Ricca ’19)

The Effects of Eutrophication and Oxygen Depletion on Bioluminescence in the Tropical Dinoflagellate Pyrocystis lunula (Ripley Mayfield ’19)

Bowdoin Marine Science Semester Concluding Remarks (5:45-6:00pm)

Holiday Reception to Follow (6:00-9:00pm)

Throwback: Tales from the BMSS 2015 – Hurricane Island

As dusk falls over Hurricane Sound, the yellow glow of a late September supermoon peeksIMG_8435 above the silhouetted pines of Green’s Island. The water between Green’s and Hurricane starts to shimmer in the growing moonlight. The wind picks up slightly, floating over small snippets of conversation from the canteen. I glance aside at the solar-powered aura of the central community building; a warm chocolate brownie is calling my name, but I linger another moment in the spectacle of the enormous rising moon.

We are visitors on Hurricane Island for a few autumn days as part of the Bowdoin Marine Science Semester. We, students and teachers, are here taking advantage of the unique setting and resources on this small treasure in Penobscot Bay. Although we traversed the few miles of sound between Rockland and Hurricane in beautiful sunlight and fair seas, we wake on our second day to a cool morning filled with foggy mist. We are aiming to make the low tide in the early light to collect data on intertidal transects we installed in collaboration with the Hurricane Island Foundation in 2014. These transects are marked with anchors in the form of small bolts drilled directly into the very granite so intertwined with Hurricane’s history.


Each year, we return with a new set of students to count the organisms living along these lines in low, mid, and high portions of the intertidal zone. Bowdoin Marine Science Semester students learn to identify all the usual suspects – species of macroalgae like Ascophyllum nodosum, Fucus vesiculosus and F. distichus, the periwinkle snails Littorina littorea,

L. obtusata, and L. saxatilis, the predatory dogwhelk Nucella lapillus – and rare interlopers like the arctic boring clam Hiatella arctica. Each cohort in the Bowdoin Marine Science Semester collects data for long-term monitoring of the changes in these intertidal communities as the waters of the Gulf of Maine change.

Two students are busy leaning over a small, white, PVC square calledIMG_8507 a quadrat which they use to count critters along the transect. They discuss what species of algae they think they have found before confirming with one of the instructors. Lobster boats blink in and out of the ephemeral fog like diesel powered ghosts. Our small army of green muck boots splashes in and out of the waves as we hop from point to point along our transects.

“Have you counted at the 60 foot mark yet? There is a huge crevice full of dogwhelks.”

“Yes, there are so many in there! An array of stripes and colors. . .”


The students chatter back and forth about the unique assemblages they are observing, and how they change from the point nearest the water to the more exposed areas.

As the sun climbs from the horizon, the fog patches dwindle and the air begins to warm. We finish our data collecting, reorganize our gear, admire the wind bent trees of Two Bush Island now fully awash in golden fall sunlight, and head back to warm up with tea, conversation, and some dry socks.

–Sarah Kingston, Doherty Marine Biology Postdoctoral Scholar


A post from the Bowdoin Marine Science Semester- fieldtrip to Baja California Sur!

skyline camping trip drop-small

The echo of scales slapping still water en mass reverberates between steep rock walls, jolting me awake. The school of jack responsible for the dawn racket darts out of the cove toward deeper water. I sit up, squinting in the new day’s sunlight. I wiggle my legs out of my sleeping bag and swing my toes down into the cool sand. It takes me a minute to register the reality that I’m on a literal desert island in the middle of the Sea of Cortez: Isla Partida. Isla Partida is separated from her larger sister, Espiritu Santo, by a narrow sliver of the sea. Both are situated in Baja California Sur, Mexico. We, a group of students and scientists from Bowdoin College and Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur, are camping in this amazing and intimidating place to experience Marine Science in a truly unique way. Scientists, students to professors, from Maine and La Paz are coming together to exchange ideas, observe an extraordinary ecosystem, and experience all the Gulf of California has to offer.

Two pangas, longboats common in Baja, bob expectantly on the moorings in the cove. Fire-warmed coffee, chorizo, and eggs provide much needed sustenance and set us on course for the day. We wrangle snorkel gear, wetsuits, ripening salt-soaked clothing, and bathing suits from their overnight drying spots. Students and professors alike are eager for the surprises of the day.

We head for another adjacent island to the north, a rocky outcrop host to thriving sea lion and frigate bird colonies – Los Islotes. The guano-stained shell visible protruding out of the ocean tells only a fraction of the story; under surface of the sea, the wall of rock drops off precipitously. A coral reef, teeming with diversity, clings to the side of the drop-off, fed by the nutrient rich waters coming up from the deep. It is an El Nino year, so the waters are unusually warm. We observe some coral bleaching, as well as crown-of-thorns starfish preying on the vulnerable colonies. Students add to their species list with each glance, king angelfish, a variety of parrotfish, skipjack tuna and grouper darting briefly out of the deep blue depths. Coral polyps dangle their tiny tentacles into the water column to catch a passing meal.

The windward side of Los Islotes is connected to her leeward side through a spectacular archway. The reef wall extends from the precipitous deep water, through the arch, to the calmer, shallower waters. Swimming toward the safety of calmer waters, we are greeted with playful sea lion pups, eager to tug on fins, hands, or even a lock of hair or two.


Pruned hands and a chill through the wetsuit, even in the El Nino warm waters, signals it is time to lug ourselves back on board the pangas and head for the next chapter of our day’s adventure. Post written by Sarah Kingston, Doherty Marine Biology Postdoctoral Scholar, and faculty member in the Marine Science Semester.