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!


Hoboken Charter High School Students Help Setup Lab/Intitiate Citizen Science Research


Journaling about their experiences on Star Island.

“I thought I was going to miss watching TV but came to find out the source of entertainment was right here.”

This year, we owe a debt of thanks to 14 students from the Hoboken Charter High School in New Jersey for helping set up the lab and kick-off our citizen science projects. In particular, our students visited from June 1 to 7 and undertook several new and existing citizen science projects including:

  • Mapping nests/eggs of Herring Gulls in the Lover’s Colony of Star Island.


    Helping set up our outdoor turtle terrarium straight from the Art Barn Pond.

  • Building our fouling plate experiment.
  • Initiating our first transects of Star Island’s terrestrial ecosystems.
  • Building terrariums for our snakes, turtles and freshwater fish.
  • Setting up our intertidal and outdoor tanks.
  • Building our lab’s sea monster (out front) from trash collected from the ocean around the Isles of Shoals.

Thanks guys for all the hard work!

During their time on Island, each of the students also helped with open-up work such as adding netting to the fences along the pier and helping to wash dining room chairs. This approach to service learning had many of the students commenting they’d definitely be back to be Pelicans.

Below a few pictures and quotes from the students about their time on Island.

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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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