Crab Love

By Linnea Huston
Volunteer naturalistcrabmating2

This week in the lab, we got to see two of our Atlantic rock crabs (Cancer irroratus) in the process of mating. To some, it looked like they were fighting, or like one was eating the other alive. In fact, they were in the “doubler” position, which looks as though the two are hugging each other.

In the pictures, the male crab is the larger of the two and the female is the smaller. Female crabs will molt right before or during mating, and this one did just thatan object came away from the pair that looked like a second crab. We realized that that was her shedded outer shell and that she
was now darker in color (Which you can see
in the second picture).

crabmatingThese two were in the doubler position only a few hours, but mating crabs can stay like this from five hours to three days. The female will store the male’s sperm under her abdomen, which will later attach to her eggs. She’ll then carry the fertilized eggs under her abdomen for about two weeks until they hatch.

Always something interesting to see in the Marine Lab!


Star Island seal pup checks out marine lab volunteer staff

Caught by iPhone! Check out the video below, and be sure to watch the upper-center portion of the film in its first five seconds.

Just before this, our volunteer said, the pup stuck his head up near the rock he was sitting on in Star Island’s quarrya spot just past the breakwaters but before East Rockand “calmly regarded him before deciding to swim back out to sea.”

Cool video! But not surprising since grey, harbor and ringed seals are often spotted swimming past the summerhouse in the evening. In fact, a group of 12 where spotted just the night before!

But we do have one last video for you, taken by our same intrepid volunteer. This time he captures an angry Spotted Sandpiper trying lead him astray from his nest near the summerhouse. Cheers and be sure you turn up the sound!



Star Island Bioblitz

by Dennis O'Keefe

Snow-in-summer, by Dennis O’Keefe

Earlier this month, All Star I conferees organized the first Star Island Bioblitz, an inventory of the biological diversity in and around the island conducted by enthusiasts and experts of all ages. Results are still being posted at the iNaturalist project but early estimates are that we saw at least 168 species, including red-backed salamanders, a polyphemus moth, and a surprise visit from a banded Peregrine Falcon who posed for photographs on the chapel!

More than 35 people participated, including 6 team leaders and 10 young people. Activities on July 2 included an Intertidal Biocube and Hula Hoop meadow transects. The Life Under Logs team found spiders and a centipede, and the Rock Pools team brought back samples with water boatmen and copepods.

We couldn’t have done it without the Rutledge Marine Lab’s Arthur Eves and his able volunteers, Chris and George Wilson. Our speaker of the week (Rob Raguso) and his wife (Laurel Hester) provided scientific guidance and inspiration. Stay tuned for final results which may take awhile. And feel free to add your own photos and observations to the iNaturalist project—no reason to stop finding species we missed. For more information, contact Cyndy Parr.

A peregrine falcon on the Star Island chapel steeple, by Bart Bouricius.

A peregrine falcon on the Star Island chapel steeple, by Bart Bouricius.

A cubic foot of the beach was sampled between high and low tide.

Sampling a cubic foot of the beach between high and low tide.

Hula hoop transect

Hula hoop transect


A centipede, ~ 2 centimeters long.

A Star Island Lightning Storm from the West Porch

Yet more beautiful shots.

A beautiful shot of the storm’s surreal clouds as it rolled by the West end of the Oceanic porch.

After weeks of hot and dry weather, the grass on Star had begun to turn brown and most of us had begun our routine of swimming at the dock three times a day. With the Island packed with 300 guests from All Star 1, the stage was set for a lively and exciting thunderstorm that turned into a night of much needed rain.

The cloud formations were amazing and remarked on by more than one person even though the storm forced the end of the Pelican-Conferee softball game in the fifth inning. Below we’ve posted a few of the best shots which captured this idyllic Island moment.

The storm rolls by...

A panorama of the storm rolling by as Pelicans and conferees gathered to watch.

The storm's approach from behind the Summer House.

The storm’s approach from behind the Summer House. Bolts of lightning could be seen in the distance (although we couldn’t catch one).

Some of the amazing cloud formations (even though this storm preceded Tropical Storm Arthur by a day).

Some of the amazing cloud formations (even though this storm preceded Tropical Storm Arthur by a day).

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End of Pier Fish Trap Brings New Fish to Lab

We’ve had a busy June!!! The lab has been re-plumbed to better oxygenate our fish and invertebrate companions, we’ve had a volunteer diver visit us twice, and our head Naturalist Arthur Eves arrived along with 300 eager All Star 1 conferees this week.

In the past few weeks, we also perfected our end-of-the-pier trap and I wanted to take a moment to share some of our most recent visitors with you. Be sure to look for them during your time on Star this summer too!

The Cunner (as it's known commonly in New England) or Bergall

The Cunner (as it’s known commonly in New England) or Bergall

On it’s first night (unfortunately during our first Pel Show for ARTS…making this Pelican late for Pel Chorus), the trap caught 14 Cunner. Many of these fish live around Star’s pier and docks, preferring to hide amongst the rocks and algae. STAR FISHERMAN’S TIP: If you’re short on bait, these fish are known to bite on bacon saved from the dining hall.

Our Tomcod.

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