Rutledge Marine Laboratory joins growing Cornell University eBird Network

eBirdBy popular demand, we’ve done it at last! We’ve joined the network of citizen birders who help contribute data on the bird species of the United States (and beyond) to Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology utilizing eBird. If you check the site’s data for the Isles of Shoals (five of the isles are listed: Star, Smuttynose, Appledore, White and Seavey islands) you’re likely to see posts from the terns researchers and Appledore scientists.

But soon you’ll see sitings posted by your peers! So, when you’re on Island and see a bird whose identity you can confirm, stop by the lab to enter him into our database. There are signs to guide you and our naturalists are always available to help.

To celebrate, I will be entering our first three sitings given to the lab by one of our doctors, Connie Lentz, who spotted these guys on June 14. Of course, I’ll be posting her photos here as well! Enjoy.

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Three Black Guillemots were spotted off the summer house. We saw one in this spot again on our Sunday morning bird walk with ISHRA and NHC this past week. (Photo courtesy of Connie Lentz).


A Gray Catbird who has made the island home for a bit (Photo courtesy of Connie Lentz).

A Spotted Sandpiper which appears to be nesting on the back of the island.

A Spotted Sandpiper which appears to be nesting on the back of the island (Photo courtesy of Connie Lentz).


Rutledge Marine Laboratory opening reception tonight

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Open-up Naturalist Drew Bush works on setting up the children’s coloring station.

We’re open! After weeks of carrying heavy rocks (as volunteer Matthew Terenna demonstrates in the rain below), re-plumbing all of the drains for the outside display tanks, and finally finishing our comprehensive exhibit for the summer (Humans and the Isles of Shoals), we’ll be hosting what we think is the first ever Rutledge Marine Laboratory reception tonight with party to follow!!!

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Marine lab volunteer Matt Terenna carries “living rocks” back to the lab.

We’re also eagerly awaiting the arrival of our head naturalist tomorrow afternoon, Arthur Eves, who has myriad demonstrations, exhibits, lessons and magic prepared for the large numbers of youth that will arrive next week with All Star I.

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NHC, ISHRA and YES arrive with a bang

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The Rutledge Marine Lab walks and events signs during a busy week.

The Natural History, Isles of Shoals Historical and Research Association, and Youth Empowerment and Spirituality conferences arrived this past Saturday and kept us busy at Rutledge with a number of insightful discussions and walks. As a naturalist on Star Island, you learn quickly to value all of the knowledge that the members of these conferences have about the Island’s history, flora and fauna. We’ve located one locally rare species of plants (the previously reported Seaside Milkwort) and learned quite a lot about fungi (the theme of NHC this year).

We were lucky enough, as well, to be able to invite conservationist, birder and photographer Eric Masterson out to give a warmly received talk yesterday where he discussed the best places and ways to find those special bird species every birder hopes to see. If you want to learn more about Eric’s work, you can look back at one of our previous posts. The conferences also were delighted by the talk Dan and Melissa Hayward gave about their work on White Island restoring tern populations.

Well, that’s all from this beautiful island for the moment. We can’t wait to see all of you out here at your conferences and to have you come visit us at the lab.

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We’ve had lots of thunderstorms blow in this past week after very hot days.

Live from a research cruise on the Vessel Nautilus

Hi, this is Erik Cordes, writing live from sea on the Exploration Vessel Nautilus. Come check us out online here:


My early time on Star Island, from the age of 8, greatly influenced my future career choice of marine biology. I spent most of my time below the high tide line lifting up algae to look for crabs, searching tide pools for sticklebacks, and turning over periwinkle shells to check for hermit crabs. Any treasures that were discovered made their way to Rutledge Marine lab, where I quickly became friends with the naturalist that summer. Once I graduated from conferee to Pelican, and high school to college, it only took a few years to become the naturalist myself. Through graduate school, I often returned to Star and made my way into the marine lab to see how things were going. I eventually volunteered for the Rutledge Marine Lab committee as I became a conferee once more. Now I have the pleasure of sharing the marine lab with my children, watching their interests begin to mirror my own.

In my off-Island life, I am a Professor of Biology at Temple University, and I am currently the Chief Scientist on a research cruise in the Gulf of Mexico. I am leading this cruise as part of a large research consortium called ECOGIG, which is focused on determining the fate and effects of the oil and gas released during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. On this cruise, we will be visiting a number of sites where we have found impacted deep-sea coral communities on the sea floor. When we return to these sites, we will be checking up on corals that we have marked to see if they are recovering from the damage of the spill, or if their health is continuing to decline. We will collect some of the deep-water corals for ship-board experiments on their physiology and the effects of oil exposure. We will also be taking water and sediment samples with our remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and alongside another ship, the RV Endeavor, to look at the impact of natural oil seeps on the ecosystems of the Gulf of Mexico.


The most exciting thing about this cruise is that you can all follow along with us live! We will be on board the Exploration Vessel Nautilus using the ROV Hercules, and every minute of our time on the seafloor will be broadcast live on their website:  There will also be daily logs, interviews with the scientists and educators onboard, and all sorts of other exciting content. Please tune in and say hi when you can!

Lab opens with help of Hoboken Charter High School students


The students on the rocks by the summer house.

Ten students from Hoboken Charter High School came as volunteers to help set up the Marine Lab the first week of June. Amongst other volunteer work they did on the island, they gathered material and collected specimens for the lab’s tanks. Here are a few of their reflections on the experience.

A.D. : This trip to Star Island was amazing from beginning to end. It took a really long time to get there but it was worth it. Once we had arrived to the island, we went into the building where we would sleep and unpacked our belongings. The rooms may not have been the best, but we got comfortable anyway.

My classmates who attended this trip and I explored around the Island. We encountered many things such as cemeteries, different plants, and most of all, seagulls. As a group, we worked and helped each other with painting, planting, shoveling and traveling through rocks. Overall, this is a trip I will never forget as this was my first time going on an island.

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