Happy holidays everyone! All of us at SML wish all of you oceans of joy in 2023. Appropriately for the season, the first light blanket of snow has been laid down on Appledore Island. Many of us are waiting for a winter treat: a snowy owl to appear on the live island camera! Many northern birds, like snowy owls, occasionally come south – typically to find better food resources. For snowy owls, low lemming populations in the tundra lead them to come south and Appledore Island is a common spot to find them. As of the end of November, there was a sighting in northern Maine, so maybe they are on their way. Sadly for Appledore, scientists are predicting that climate change is going to push this species further north and their southern excursions may be limited (Audubon climate report). In 2021, this species was listed a Conservation Concern by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Climate change impacts are year round in the Gulf of Maine and demand our attention!
Data taken over many years is the gold standard in figuring out climate change impacts and Shoals Marine Laboratory has much to contribute to this effort! Long-term data monitoring programs, like the Intertidal Transect Study, Marine Mammal Program, and the Appledore Island Migration Banding Station, are critical to identifying the impacts of climate change on ecological systems. Equally important is educating students on the causes and impacts of climate change, as it is already influencing many aspects of life on earth, especially in the oceans. Being a good steward of our very own place on this planet is also important, showing and teaching everyone who steps foot on Appledore Island about sustainable practices to reduce our carbon footprint. We take these roles and jobs seriously and we hope you will support us in our efforts.
This coming summer, Shoals Marine Lab will be hosting a Coastal Environmental Justice course for the first time! Students will learn the basic principles and history of environmental justice (EJ) and will study concerns including climate change, pollution, resource loss, and more. Students will discuss steps that are being taken to counter the emerging crises, drawing from solutions across the policy spectrum, from forced relocation to paying reparations. By the end, they'll be able to describe the issues faced by coastal residents, understand how climate change affects nearshore habitats and waterfront communities, and will have investigated and presented a way forward.
This course will be run by Dr. Heidi Weiskel, a marine ecologist and professor working at the intersections of ecology, law, climate change, and coastal environmental justice.