Catherine Schmitt's blog

The View from Mount Desert Rock







Twenty-five miles due south of Acadia National Park stands the most remote lighthouse in Maine. Established in 1830, the Mount Desert Rock Light is now part of College of the Atlantic’s Edward McC. Blair Marine Research Station.

Maine's Climate Future: The Animated Edition

We are excited to announce the release of what we hope will be the first in a series of animated videos about climate change in the Gulf of Maine, informed by our work on the Maine's Climate Future project. Produced in partnership with Maine-based O'Chang Studios, "The Lobster Pot Heats Up" illustrates how climate change affects lobster and the lobster industry. 

Salmon Delivery

April 30, 2015 | Green Lake National Fish Hatchery

After an epic winter, spring has arrived in the Penobscot River Valley. Ice is out on the lower river and most of the tributaries, and the water temperature has reached a still-chilly 5 degrees Celsius. Fred Trasko and the rest of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife crew are preparing to transfer 24,000 smolts to the river for their seaward migration thousands of miles to the sub-Arctic waters around Greenland.

Ice-out on the Penobscot

This time of year, many eyes are on Maine’s rivers, lakes, and harbors, watching for the spring phenomenon known as ice-out. On rivers in particular, ice-out brings the risk of flooding.

Maine oysters go wild - and stay wild.

Researchers (including Sea Grant extension associate Dana Morse) are studying isolated oyster grounds in the 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.

What famous chefs do with Maine seafood

“There isn’t anything more special than Maine seafood,” said fisherman Kristan Porter, kicking off a culinary afternoon at the 2015 Maine Fishermen’s Forum.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Forum, seafood industry partners invited four established chefs to share their cooking knowledge of Maine seafood.

40 Years of the Maine Fishermen's Forum

Forty years ago,  fish harvested by Maine fishermen stayed local, only traveling perhaps as far as Boston or New York. The Gulf of Maine fishery was dominated by fleets of foreign fishing vessels, factories at sea that fished harder than anyone before. Even at Gorton's in Gloucester, Massachusetts, 40% of the cod came from Polish boats. 

Sea Smoke

If the air is still and cold enough, great wisps of sea smoke hover and drift above the water surface. That “smoke” actually is water vapor that forms when really cold air moves over relatively warmer water and the thin boundary layer of warm air just above the surface. When the evaporating water rises, the cold air can only hold so much moisture, forcing the liquid to condense into fog. Clouds rise like smoke from the sea’s surface, dispersing and reforming, turning bays and coves into ephemeral cauldrons of submarine fire.

Squid Fingers

While out on the Damariscotta River this morning in search of wild oysters at low tide (more on that story later), we came across this giant, gelatinous mass on the shore of Goose Ledge. None of us, not even the one who is on the water every day, had ever seen anything like it. The fingery protrusions were all connected, the whole mass jiggled when prodded. Was it alive? Did it sting? 

On Jellyfish

News media and Sea Grant’s coastal correspondents (a.k.a. the Marine Extension Team) have been reporting jellyfish sightings along the coast, from Casco Bay to Penobscot Bay to Frenchman Bay.

I saw them, too—a parade of moon jellies moving up the Damariscotta River.
The tide was going out and the jellies were coming in, one after another pulsating toward head of tide.

Counting smolts in May: a story of Atlantic salmon survival.

Piscataquis River near Abbott, MaineMay 16, 2014, Endangered Species Day.

Maine and The Mortal Sea

Multiple departments from the University of Maine came together on Saturday to discuss Jeffrey Bolster’s book, The Mortal Sea: Fishing the Atlantic in the Age of Sail. Hosted by the History Department, Sustainability Solutions Initiative at the Senator George J.

Our Sacred Seasons

The Salarius blog has been running for nearly three years. In that time, I’ve covered the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico; the Boston Seafood Show; restaurants and festivals that serve Maine seafood; Sea Grant-funded research on seafood; lobster, oysters, shrimp, scallops, alewives, smelt, sardines, crab, eel, salmon, and sea vegetables; and the ever-elusive notion of “sustainable seafood.”

Maine Seafood Guide Updates

As saltwater fishing season gets underway, anglers may want to check on any changes to the rules about size and catch limits, and gear restrictions.

The National Marine Fisheries Service made no changes to Gulf of Maine species in their latest update on the status of federally-managed fisheries

Smelt: It's What's for Breakfast

Today's post comes from marine extension associate Chris Bartlett. Chris is based in Eastport, and for the past few years he helped monitor populations of rainbow smelt (Osmerus mordax), which is considered a species of special concern. As a result, Chris has learned a lot about these little fish. --CS

The Arrival of the Alewives

What does "sustainable" mean to you?

Just as I anticipated, sustainability messaging was ubiquitous on the trade show floor at the 2013 Boston Seafood Show. Repeated exposure to the word felt less like an illusion and more like dilution.

Top Ten Reasons Why Seafood Fraud Hurts Us All

10. We can't trust our food. An estimated 10% of seafood is not the species it is sold or marketed as, and certain species are more likely to be false than others.

9. People are paying for more than they get - maybe 40% of the time.

8. Faking it is easy. Most of the seafood most of us buy and eat is in skinless, boneless, sometimes coated or breaded or otherwise concealed pieces, rather than whole. Processed fish is harder to evaluate "organoleptically." 

Seafood Choices and the Sustainability Illusion

As I prepare to head south to the Boston Seafood Show, where I'll be reporting for The Working Waterfront, I’ve been catching up on the latest national media stories on “sustainable seafood.” I don’t want to take an incredible bite only to find out that the fish I just sampled is not caught or raised “sustainably.”

Real "Maine scallops"

Feeling the scallop season get a way from me, I’ve been in pursuit of fresh Placopectin magellenicus harvested from Maine waters by dayboat draggers and divers. But fresh, local seafood can be hard to find where I live in Bangor, within reach of the tide but 30+ miles from saltwater. Since I had a meeting Tuesday in South Portland, I knew I’d have the opportunity. But where to go? 

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