As someone who is somewhat new to the area, I’ve been trying to explore as much as possible, not just for familiarity, but also to check out the amazing nature here on the Schoodic Peninsula. In the past couple weeks, I’ve been able to see so many interesting things, some of which I’ve only ever read or heard about, and not just plants and animals, but I’ve also witnessed some interesting phenomena. There are so many amazing things happening under our nose, and I encourage everyone to go explore and check them out!

A patch of green seaweed on granite that is bleached white around its perimeter
Sea lettuce bleached on its edges.

One of the first interesting features I saw was on a walk along Frenchman’s Bay. I found patches of seaweed that had turned white, some only on the edges and some patches turned entirely. I’d never seen this before! With further inspection and some input from friends, we determined that this was most likely sea lettuce (Ulva intestinalis), but what we couldn’t figure out, though, was why it would turn white. After a bit of Googling, I found a potential answer. Just like humans, when seaweed is under stress, it is more susceptible to disease or harmful bacteria that it might have otherwise been able to survive. These stressors can be a number of things, for example, warmer ocean temperatures or lack of nutrients. These pathogens that seaweed is no longer able to fight often causes it to turn white.

Stripes of pink granite and black basalt alternating on the shore
Stripes of pink granite and black basalt on Schoodic Point. Photo: Dave Darrow

Another fascinating feature I’ve gotten to check out is the unique rock formations of pink granite and black basalt along the shore. When I first arrived in Gouldsboro, I attended a lecture on the geology of the area, which gave me some background on what I might see, but I couldn’t have imagined how striking the formations would be. On a rainy afternoon on Schoodic Point, I explored the distinct and large stripes in the rock. In some places, the stripes are many feet wide, while in other places, the basalt looks to have oozed up around the pink granite. In fact, this is exactly the history of the formation. After the pink granite had already been established, there was underground volcanic activity. The lava and molten rock oozed up and out, forcing itself through the granite. When it cooled, the shoreline was then changed to have these magnificent stripes. While I had heard about these features before, I never could’ve imagined how vivid they are!

An Arctic Tern flies over the water
Arctic Tern in flight. Photo: Noah Milsky

I also had the opportunity last weekend to get out on the water and check out species that aren’t as easily found close to the shore. On my trip out to Petit Menan Island, I saw a wide array of birds, as well as some marine mammals. The birds I saw included herring gulls, Arctic terns, and my favorite, Puffins. While I’ve seen pictures of them, I’ve never seen them in the wild, and I was surprised at how small they are. The Atlantic Puffin is only the size of a pigeon! My favorite sighting, though, were the Harbor Seals, which were scattered around Egg Rock Lighthouse. I’ve only gotten glimpses of these animals before, and it was fascinating to see them in the wild.

It has been amazing to experience some of these natural phenomena for myself and put concepts and species in context. I will definitely continue to explore and I encourage others to do the same, even if it’s just in your backyard! One great way to figure out what you’re seeing is with apps like iNaturalist or Seek, who can help you identify species and take note of your observations. There is so much fascinating and beautiful nature here and I appreciate being able to slow down and take note.

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