story by Mikayla Gullace
Campus is reawakening! We are so excited to welcome our newest group of Schoodic Education Adventure (SEA) environmental educators to campus, who arrived the first week of April for training. One of the new educators was a SEA student himself when he was in middle school! These educators will be leading SEA programs from April to mid-June, including our intertidal crab survey, and are just the start of an incoming flow of seasonal staff who will be arriving in the coming weeks. SEA training includes familiarizing new educators with our programs, including the standard ones such as marine chemistry and forest diversity in addition to some new and adapted evening programs, hiking up Schoodic Head, and participating in citizen science projects.
Over the winter, our virtual touch tank program required visits to the intertidal zone. However, when we went out we didn’t find a single crab! We knew they often burrowed into the mud or swam deeper into the subtidal for the winter months, but when did the crabs begin coming back to the area around Schoodic Point? Our curiosity was sparked. So when April rolled around and we were training our seasonal educators in the intertidal crab survey, we were wary about finding any crabs at all. And as we suspected, we found only one tiny green crab.
The second week of April our first school group of 2023, Casco Bay High School, arrived on campus to help us out with the intertidal crab survey. After only finding a single crab the previous week, we were once again leery that the students would find anything. But, to our surprise, almost every group found at least one green crab in their 1×1 meter quadrat, sometimes finding up to 11! What changed during this one week period? Was the warmer weather an impact? Were they just better at searching?
This sudden increase in the number of crabs is very peculiar to us, and we can’t wait to keep going out each week with students to learn more about the variations in intertidal crab populations throughout the season. Each SEAson is a bit different, not only in the data we collect and the programs that we lead, but also in the energy and experience that each of our educators bring to campus. I’m happy to say this spring is set to be one of the best ones yet!
photo by Abi Charlebois