Mother Nature Closes Flats, Raises Red Tide Concerns



ELLSWORTH — For Maine’s shellfish industry, it seems that Mother Nature frequently doth both giveth and taketh away, while the Department of Marine Resources (DMR) serves as her messenger.

 

Department of Marine Resources (DMR) biologist Allie Rohrer (left) and water quality specialist John Fendl (right) look delighted as they take delivery of a brand new boat that the department will use to monitor for red tide in Cobscook Bay from Pirie Marine owner Jason Pirie. DMR purchased the Maine-built 23-foot Maritime Challenger equipped with a 200 horsepower Honda outboard engine with some of the $2 million in federal fisheries disaster relief funds received after a serious red tide outbreak in 2008. — STEPHEN RAPPAPORT
Department of Marine Resources (DMR) biologist Allie Rohrer (left) and water quality specialist John Fendl (right) look delighted as they take delivery of a brand new boat that the department will use to monitor for red tide in Cobscook Bay from Pirie Marine owner Jason Pirie. DMR purchased the Maine-built 23-foot Maritime Challenger equipped with a 200 horsepower Honda outboard engine with some of the $2 million in federal fisheries disaster relief funds received after a serious red tide outbreak in 2008. — STEPHEN RAPPAPORT

Late last month, flooding brought on by torrential rainfall forced DMR Commissioner George Lapointe to close huge portions of the state’s shellfish flats to harvesting because of concerns about bacterial contamination. The affected area stretched from the Maine-New Hampshire border to Petit Manan Point in Steuben. The ban covered clams, quahogs, oysters and mussels.

These charts show the density and extent of Alexandrium cysts buried in the Gulf of Maine seafloor sediments in four different years with dark blue representing the lowest numbers and red the highest. Last fall, scientists observed the highest level and southernmost spread of cysts ever seen. — WOODS HOLE OCEANOGRAPHIC INSTITUTION
These charts show the density and extent of Alexandrium cysts buried in the Gulf of Maine seafloor sediments in four different years with dark blue representing the lowest numbers and red the highest. Last fall, scientists observed the highest level and southernmost spread of cysts ever seen. — WOODS HOLE OCEANOGRAPHIC INSTITUTION

Thanks to hard work by the staff of the department’s shellfish growing area classification program, which has laboratories in both Lamoine and Boothbay, and a patch of mercifully dry weather, DMR was able to reopen most of the closed area last Saturday, just 10 days after it was shut down. As of Tuesday of this week, with the exception of the uppermost part of Penobscot Bay and the Penobscot River, the only areas still closed because of the effects of the heavy rains were in the southwestern part of the state — a portion of the York River, around Biddeford and Biddeford Pool, and along the Kennebec and Sheepscot rivers.

For more maritime news, pick up a copy of The Ellsworth American.

 

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