Each summer, the Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge employs researchers, many of them college students, to live on remote islands along the Maine coast and monitor seabird colonies. It is an experience like no other. This is their story.
Island work includes conducting an annual census of all nesting seabird species, monitoring what adults feed to their chicks and how many chicks survive to adulthood. Researchers also trap and band adult seabirds and chicks, and monitor for predators. Seabird species studied include: common, Arctic, and roseate terns, common eider, laughing gulls, black guillemot, leach’s storm-petrel, Atlantic puffin, and razorbills. Life on the island is primitive; there is no running water and researchers are often exposed to harsh weather conditions.
During the summer, researchers live on the Islands of Petit Manan, Metinic, Eastern Brothers, and Ship. Additionally, through a partnership, the National Audubon Society’s Project Puffin employs researchers on the Islands of Matinicus Rock, Seal, and Pond.