Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Mind Boggling Overall Bigness of the Rapids of the Lower Congo River

This video by the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) shows fascinating footage of ongoing speciation by fish in the extraordinary rapids of the Lower Congo River. The AMNH's study has found that some of the "deep holes" in the rapids are more than 600 feet deep and that flow restrictions and ledge barriers in the channel are sufficient to cause various native fish to become so reproductively isolated from one another that new species are being created. AMNH says:

At last count, 320 species—some with bizarre features like long snouts, tiny eyes, and colorless skin—swim in the river’s 350 kilometers of roiling brown water. “I call it evolution on steroids,” says Melanie Stiassny, curator of ichthyology at the American Museum of Natural History.

In the U.S. we have river resources just as unique and incredible as the Congo and many of them are in terrible condition (or flat out going extinct), which makes it impossible for a video like this to even be filmed here. This video could have been made at Celillo Falls on the Columbia in the 1920s. But in the 1930s the Bonneville Dam was built without any environmental review and destroyed all of Celillo Falls and a huge Native American sustenance salmon fishery there. The same goes for the Tennessee River system.

The lower Congo has long been eyed for damming and still is -- precisely because of its steep gradient and rapids. If that were to happen, all of these unique fish species that are just now being discovered and described will go extinct.

The AMNH's documentation and research illustrates how the Congo's hydrology and ledge geography creates special, isolated niches for cichlids, and these niches are creating speciation even as we speak. Their research is important as a scientific hedge against some lame brain at the World Bank thinking that putting a dam here and wrecking the place would be a good idea. Weirdly, the AMNH website does not even mention any proposals to dam this part of the Lower Congo.

Oh look ! The European Union and World Bank have already slated the Lower Congo River for destruction:

Banks meet over £40bn plan to harness power of Congo river and double Africa's electricity

Fury at plan to power EU homes from Congo dam: World Bank supports controversial $80bn project.

Not surprisingly, the dam is touted as being good for poor black people, as being "green power," as helping the "development of Africa," and ... to ice the cake ... is being proposed as mitigation credits for Europe burning fossil fuels and causing global warming. Unfortunately, all of the claims are not just false, but are fairly deliberate lies. Never saw that coming.

Who said Euro-Colonialism was dead?

Wild Geranium, Presumpscot Falls, Presumpscot River. Good Photos of 2009.

This is a wild geranium (Geranium maculatum) next to Presumpscot Falls, Presumpscot River, in Portland, Maine. Photo taken in early June.

For some reason there is an extreme profusion of these wild geraniums growing in one vale near the falls. These may be naturalized escapees from a nearby garden (there's a house at the top of the hill) or they are just wild and happen to like this area.

These wildflowers are like eating peanuts. You just can't stop taking pictures of them. On this day, I probly took 100 images of them.

Click to embiggen.

Wild Turkey Feather: Good Photos of 2009

The wedge of woods across the street from our house produced lots of good photos in 2009. One day in the summer I was in the woods with Queequeg T. Dog, Ph.D. and encountered this wild turkey feather perched on a branch. It's quite a popular place for wild turkeys. Often we see a dozen or two making their way through the understory looking for acorns. Below is another. Click to embiggen.

Philadelphia Fleabane: Good Photos of 2009

This fleabane (Erigeron philadelphiacus) is growing in the side yard and kept flowering from late May to late October. It was growing in a crack in the parking lot across the street and I dug it up before they tore up the parking lot when they built the new supermarket.

Click to embiggen

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Bunchberry, Presumpscot River. Portland, Maine. Good Photos of 2009.

This is a bunchberry (Cornus canadensis) from the woods along the Presumpscot River, just above Presumpscot Falls in Portland, Maine. Bunchberries are the smallest member of the dogwood family. The flowers turn into bright red berries in late summer. Bunchberry plants are tiny, about the size of your hand, the flower is the size of a nickel, and they grow very low to the ground. These photos were taken in mid-June, 2009 in the conservation land protected by Portland Trails.
I like to get pics from the plant's perspective, rather than from peoples, which for bunchberry means lying on your belly, which means risking crushing and squishing all the plants nearby, which I prefer not to do. Since these guys were growing in a patch of broken sunlight next to a large riverside hemlock tree, there was a clear enough area of bare hemlock needles to lie down on without wreaking havoc on the bunchberries.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Daisy and Pink Striped Spider. Good Photos of 2009.

This pink striped spider made a home on a patch of daisies in our yard this summer. Taken at sunset, when the spider tended to be out. These daisies were growing along the left field fence at the old Cony High School softball field in 2007 and I dug them up and transplanted them into our yard when they started wrecking the school to built a new supermarket.

Click to embiggen.

Hanging Falls at Presumpscot Falls, Presumpscot River, Falmouth, Maine. Good Photos of 2009.

This was actually taken in 2005, but I was never satisfied with it, and the other day I used the watercolor part of Photoshop to subtly fatten it up. The trick is to make a second copy of the image using the watercolor tool and layer it with the original and use the opacity setting to mix them. The idea here is not to make a blatant "watercolor" type image, but to give the original more punch and definition while still making it look like an unmanipulated photo. A 4x5 real camera would do the same, but me lack one. If you look closely at the embiggened version, you can most clearly see the effect of the "watercolor" in the ledges in the lower left hand corner. As a matter of ethics, I think you should always mention if you do this type of manipulation to an original photo.

This image depicts a beautiful falls that comes clear off the highest part of the bedrock gorge of the Presumpscot River at Presumpscot Falls in Falmouth, Maine. This was in May, after a rain, when the little brook was quite full of water and spilling happily down the ledges next to osprey, great blue heron, shad and alewives. This spot is a 3 minute drive from downtown Portland.

The reason why the ledges in the lower left hand corner are much whiter and brighter than the other rocks above and to the right is that the falls is on a major boundary of two different bedrock types, perhaps bounded by a fault, which runs diagonally from upper left to lower right along the color change.

Click to embiggen.

China Lake Stream, Sebasticook River, Winslow, Maine. Good Photos from 2009.

My camera (an Olympus C-750) is great for close-ups but not so great for long, landscape shots which contain vast differences in lighting, like from full sun to deep shade.

But when the place and light just screams at you, you have to at least try. This happened in August, walking up China Lake Stream in Winslow with Queequeg T. Dog, Ph.D. on a brilliant late summer afternoon. A yellow lab, Queequeg was really good at staying put at this little point of rocks while I experimented with different angles and light schemes. He loves walking along streams and poking around and makes doing this fun.

This photo captures the nice stair-step character of the bedrock ledges (Waterville Slate Formation) that China Lake Stream crosses at this bend (which also forces the stream to bend). The stair steps are created because the Waterville Slate Formation is massively folded mudrock and dirty limestone from the Ordovician/Silurian and some of the folds/beds contain more quartz sand than others. The beds with more quartz are more resistant to erosion and create ridges, ie. the top of the steps. The more muddy beds are the low spots. These beds were laid down 350-450 million years ago. Cool stuff on a hot day. The photo is a bit brittle (too much sharpness added) and not silky and wet enough for my taste. Must go back and fix.

Click to embiggen.

Sundew, Upper Leach's Pond, Borderland State Park, North Easton, Massachusetts. Good Photos from 2009.

This a sundew about to flower on a floating island of peat in Upper Leach's Pond at Borderland State Park on the North Easton/Sharon line in Massachusetts. This was taken July 17, 2009.

Getting this photo required swimming about 200 feet out from shore to a small peat island with an underwater camera and climbing on top of the island, which is like a soggy mattress suspended in 15 feet of water, and not falling off or through it or stepping and falling and squishing all of the delicate bog plants growing on it.

This is something I've wanted to do since I was a little kid and first went to Upper Leach's Pond fishing with my dad. This was the only good shot from about 40 taken. Getting a sharp focus on the tiny droplets of "dew" the plant uses to attract and catch and eat insects was very hard, which caused most of the rejects. The overcast sky helped bring out the intense colors.

These sundews (and pitcher plants) do not grow on the shore of the pond, but only on the floating peat islands. The green in the background is not the shore, but an even larger island farther out in the pond. Without a waterproof camera, it's pretty much impossible to get a photo of these cool little carnivorous plants.

Click to embiggen.

Black Brook, Hockomock Swamp, South Easton, Massachusetts. Good Photos from 2009.

Photographing the Hockomock Swamp is not easy for many obvious reasons (bugs, water, not easy to get into), but more because it is so hard to find a shot which defines it. It's not like a mountain or a river where you can press the shutter button and people can say, "yup, that's a mountain." Taking a picture of a 6,000 acre swamp is like taking a picture of one of your skin cells and calling it a self portrait.

Like a rainforest or climax temperate forest, a forested swamp like the Hockomock is a study in verticals. Change doesn't happen horizontally, it occurs vertically. This shot, from July 18, 2009, next to Black Brook where it crosses the old railroad grade on the Easton/Raynham line, starts to capture some of the feelings, glints and shadings of the multitude the Hockomock contains when you are inside it. It also shows all of the growth layers in the swamp, from the leaf litter underwater, to the sphagnum moss underwater, to the aquatic plants growing in hummocks next to the water, to the shub vegetation and finally to the crown branches of the swamp red maples 50 feet above.

Click on the photo to embiggen it.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Friends of Merrymeeting Bay on MSN !!!

Ed Friedman of Friends of Merrymeeting Bay alerts me to a great TV piece on the work that FOMB is doing to restore and protect the lower Kennebec and Androscoggin Rivers, ie. Merrymeeting Bay, including doing lots of stuff with local kids.

Watching this, it's important to remember that when older folks around the Bay were kids in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, Merrymeeting Bay was nearly dead from water pollution and those kids' only experience with the Bay was a place that stunk so bad that you didn't want to go anywhere near it. Thanks to the U.S. Clean Water Act, Merrymeeting Bay is once again a place where kids are welcome.

Monday, December 07, 2009

On how to restore native brook trout to Queset Brook, North Easton, Massachusetts

Queset Brook in North Easton, Massachusetts was for ten thousand years the native home of the brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis). They were extirpated from North Easton 200 years ago when numerous dams were built on Queset Brook to power saw mills and shovel mills.

The earliest reference to Queset Brook, in the History of the Town of Easton (Chaffin 1886) states: "The earliest name given to it was Mill River, if we except the name Trout-Hole Brook, which, however, was only applied to that portion of it which runs through the east part of North-Easton village."

The ability of the "Trout Hole Brook" portion of Queset Brook in North Easton to support trout in the 20th century was proven by William Amory Parker ("Mister Parker"), who for many years in the 1960s and 1970s paid to privately stock brown trout (Salmo trutta) in "Parker's Pond," which is the small dammed pond on Queset Brook behind his house on North Main Street. Mr. Parker let us neighborhood kids fish for and catch these trout and play in his fields and woods, which is why he did it. Many of these stocked trout lived for many years in the pond and brook above it and below it and grew to lengths exceeding 20 inches.

Even after Mr. Parker died and the trout stocking in Queset Brook stopped in the mid 1970s, older and larger trout were still seen in the brook for many years, particularly in the stretch behind Sundell's garage, in the tunnel underneath North Main Street, next to the Ames Free Library, underneath Shep Williams' Antrim Hammer Shop house, underneath the arched stone bridge just above Shep Williams' house, and in the brook from the Hoeshop Pond dam to the inlet of Parker's Pond. When brook trout were stocked in Picker Pond in 1975 to celebrate Easton's 250th anniversary, teen anglers like John Brown and my brother Tim Watts for several years caught brookies in Queset Brook in its short, tortuous, green briar jungle from Picker Pond to Hoeshop Pond.

One of the reasons these trout could survive in Queset Brook even in the heat of the summer is a tiny brook that comes from the Easton Town Pool, which is built on top of a number of large natural springs that begin on Lincoln Street next to the Easton Lutheran Church and are called, collectively, "Lincoln Springs." The pond behind the Easton Town Pool is fed by spring water as is the Town Pool. This is why the original Easton Water Works was built at the site of the Easton Town Pool. Visitors to the town pool in the 1970s will remember the odd, 20-foot high, shingled "pyramid" in the center of the parking lot. Underneath this pyramid was the well head.

Lincoln Spring and its spring brook are still there behind the pond above the Town Pool and the entire "bowl" of land behind the Lutheran Church and the DeCouto's house is a natural spring water seep that funnels into the dug-out basin that is now the Easton Town Pool. All of the water from these springs and seeps is channelled into an old, narrow channel lined with granite blocks which crosses Parker's field and enters Queset Brook at the inlet of Mr. Parker's Pond.

If you go to Parker's field you can still see the overgrown, long and straight ditches cut into the meadow to drain it. In the 1970s, during the heat of the summer, the trout that Mr. Parker stocked would crowd into the tiny slot of the drainage channel from the Town Pool to keep cool. These were also prime frog catching sites for kids. [Some of the ditches may have been made to enhance the growth of native cranberries, which are still found in the stretch of meadow between the Town Pool and Parker's field.]

If you go to the Easton Town Pool in the late fall, after the pool has been drained, and walk around on its bottom, you will see natural springs bubbling up from its bottom that all flow into a central drain beneath the far dock. As kids we used to see tiny hornpout in the drain. How these hornpout and, downstream, the trout, survived the boatloads of swimming pool chemicals dumped into the pool every few weeks every summer to keep kids from getting ringworm is a mystery.

Survival needs for Queset Brook's native trout

In Massachusetts, Easton is a type locality and model for effective, citizen-led open space protection. Efforts to protect open space in Easton began in earnest in the mid 1960s. The results are manifest. But while the citizens of Easton have become adept and efficient at preserving and protecting open land in the town in the past 45 years, the glaring hole in these protection efforts has been the failure to address the effect of 250 years of damming on its brooks and watersheds. Queset Brook is the poster child of this omission.

To restore an extirpated species, you need to know what extirpated them in the first place. At Queset Brook, the answer is simple: numerous small, impassable dams. These dams have had two deleterious effects on native trout. First, they impound the brooks into small ponds, which raise the water temperature of the brook above the maximum which trout can live. Second, these dams fragment the brook into tiny sections and prevent trout from freely moving up and down the brook to find suitable seasonal habitat for all life stages and for giving birth.

At Queset Brook, the effect of this fragmentation and impoundment is most acute during the summer when water temperatures are at trout's thermal maximum. Trout are incredibly adept at finding suitable spawning, growing and summering habitat, if they are not obstructed from doing so, and if the critical habitat they seek is not altered or destroyed. The dams on Queset Brook, as small as they are, have the effect of defeating all of the evolutionary survival techniques which have allowed native brook trout to live in the brook since the last Ice Age. For these reasons, native brook no longer live in Queset Brook, nor can they in its existing condition. The efforts of Mr. William Parker shows that even when trout were annually re-introduced into Queset Brook for many years, they could not successfully reproduce and maintain a wild population as they did for the past 100 centuries. Mr. Parker's experiment shows something is amiss in Queset Brook.

Restoring Queset Brook so its native Brook Trout
can live in it.

A plan to restore the native trout of Queset Brook must eliminate, or reduce to insignificance, those factors which caused their extirpation and have confounded repeated efforts to restore them. This means that removing the small, remaining dams on Queset Brook upstream of North Main Street in North Easton must be a first step. These two dams are the Hoeshop dam and the Parker's Pond dam. Removal or lowering of these two dams would restore all of Queset Brook from its headwaters at Ames Long Pond and the former Flyaway Pond above Shovelshop Pond to its natural channel, elevation and habitat conditions. The next issue is the dams at Shovelshop Pond and Langwater Pond, which impound and destroy virtually all of the native habitat for trout in Queset Brook from Sullivan Avenue to Sheep Pasture, or about one half of the section of Queset Brook that Chaffin (1886) called "Trout Hole Brook." Let's consider the history of these waters in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.

What is the history and purpose of Langwater Pond?

Queset Brook was first dammed at Main Street in the early 1700s. The pond at this dam site was greatly enlarged in the late 1800s when the Ames family built a large estate at the junction of Queset and Whitman Brooks. This pond, and the farm next to it, was called "Langwater." By the mid 1970s, Langwater had completely filled with silt and mud and was only a foot or two deep in many areas. At this time, the Ames family paid several local contractors to dig all of the silt and mud out from behind the dam at Main Street so as to deepen and "restore" the pond.

Local contractors for several years (1977-78) drained Langwater and used it as their own private gravel pit. The "reclamation project" became a local joke when several 20 ton excavators got so mired in the muck at the front of the pond that they had to be chained and dragged out by other excavators. Towards the middle of Langwater, off the sheer cliff called "Big Pout," the contractors dug down to nearly 50 feet below the pond's waterline to get the most commercially valuable gravel deposits, until they were finally fired for failing to follow the prescribed dredging plan [and according to Joe Cardoza, hit several huge springs that flooded the excavators]. Upon hiring of a new contractor (Wayne Benson), the narrow, temporary channel on the west side of the pond was knocked down, the dam at Main Street was rebuilt, and the pond was raised again. This was the last time anyone would see the Queset Brook in its valley again.

From the brief glimpses of when it was drained in 1977-1978 and its shoreline topography, the Queset Brook at Langwater Pond was a deep, narrow, cliff and ledge-lined valley, with hemlock and pines rooted in massive outcrops of glacially worn bedrock that fell suddenly to a chasm of rapids, and pools and riffles far below: Trout Hole Brook. Nobody has seen this place in more than 200 years, but it is still there, stumps and all, under 30 feet of clear, still water. Based on Chaffin's description of Trout-Hole Brook as that part of Queset on the "east side" of North Easton village, the section from the dam at Shovelshop to the dam at Langwater must be what was called Trout-Hole Brook.

Today, Langwater (or "Fred's Pond") is an anomaly. It is smack in the center of North Easton Village. It floods nearly a mile of Queset and Whitman Brooks from Main Street to Elm Street and yet there is no canoe launch on the pond, and except for the conservation land on Pond Street next to Big Pout (where the shoreline is extremely steep), there is no public access to the pond. Oh well.

Shovelshop Pond

Unlike Langwater, the public has much greater access to Shovelshop Pond, primarily along Pond Street. Shovelshop was drained and dug out in 1973-1974 which removed a century or so of toxic, industrially polluted sediments, even as the Steadfast Rubber Company was pumping fresh toxic chemicals into the pond at the same time, via their concrete culvert at the corner of Oliver Street next to the entrance to David Ames' house. This illegal, toxic discharge only stopped after my cousins Todd and Peter Heino and myself put the weird vaseline-type gook coming out of the pipe into mason jars and walked the jars down Elm Street to Mary Connolly at the Easton Board of Health. We were about 11 at the time (Pete was 8). Thanks to Mary, soon after, the discharge of weird toxic goop from the cement pipe into Shovelshop Pond suddenly stopped.

Today, the multi-year dredging of Shovelshop and Langwater Ponds on Queset Brook in the mid 1970s would be totally prohibited by natural resources conservation laws. These activities were also prohibited by federal and state law in the 1970s but were allowed to "squeak through," which is shorthand for "don't tell us much about it and let's hope nobody sues you/us."

Up until about 2000, the dam at Shovelshop allowed the water of Queset Brook to flow down into its original channel, in a deep ravine next to Pond Street, until it was impounded again by the backwatering effect of the dam at Langwater beneath Main Street.

Since about 2000, the heirs/assigns of the Ames family stopped up the dam completely and increased the level of Shovelshop Pond by about three feet, causing Queset Brook to flow down an artificial channel several hundred yards to the north and along the Ames property formerly owned by David Ames. As a result, the original channel of Queset Brook along Pond Street is now virtually empty and the "new channel" created by this raising of the pond level is marked with numerous large "No Trespassing" signs. In effect, the entire free-flowing section of Queset Brook from Shovelshop to Langwater Pond has been usurped by David Ames' heirs/assigns and moved onto their posted property.

My visit to the brook on Sunday, Dec. 6, 2009 shows the Ames heirs/assigns have removed all the vegetation along the brook and place large obstructions (cut logs) in the brook channel itself. While I understand the Ames heirs/assigns might wish to have a nice, neat lawn going right to the bank of Queset Brook, it's kind of against the law.

Interestingly, my brother Tim told me about wandering around the brook below Parker's Pond around 2000-2001 and seeing trout jumping at the base of Parker's dam. That same fall, at Thanksgiving, I was walking down North Main Street across from the Ames Free Library and noticed a trout spawning nest (called a redd) in Queset Brook just below where the brook exits the tunnel beneath the street. These redds are very distinctive because the female trout use their tails to dig a depression in the stream gravel in which they deposit their eggs. They then move a few feet upstream and dig another depression and the current pushes the stones downstream to cover the eggs. Curious about our observations, Tim consulted the late Joe Cardoza who told him that during this time, the state had been putting some trout in Shovelshop in the spring, as Joe said, "for the kids to catch."

Apparently the trout Tim saw jumping at the base of Parker's dam had swum up from Shovelshop and were living in the brook, and based on my observation, had spawned in the brook that fall. Whether the spawning was successful, I am not sure, however, since trout spawn in late fall, it shows the water conditions in the brook remain good enough to support trout through the critical low-water and high temperatures of the summer months. This also shows how useful it would be if the trout could get over Parker's dam and be able to utilize the entire brook up to Flyaway and Ames Long Pond. It's all about connectivity and the lack thereof.

But what about Whitman's Brook?

Whitman's Brook rises in a series of small natural ponds near the Easton/Stoughton line and flows southeasterly to its junction with Queset Brook at Langwater Pond. The northerly half of Langwater is actually an impoundment of the southernmost terminus of Whitman's Brook. Two small ponds on the Springhill estate impound the brook. The lowest is known as the "Horseshoe Pond" because of its shape, and is very small and shallow. The second is known as the "back pond" and was created by the Ames' family for cranberry cultivation and is also quite small. A second set of very old cranberry bogs (with typical, straight-lined ditches) is found at the southern end of Totman's field just south of the Easton/Stoughton line. There is a significant spring entering the brook just above its crossing with Elm Street, which unfortunately is covered over by the road going to the Spring Hill subdivision (how they were allowed to build a road right on top of a spring is beyond me), and the spring now goes through a small culvert into the brook. The water is excellent and the spring runs all summer. Most likely, Whitman's Brook also supported some brook trout prior to being ponded.

What Is to Be Done?

Damned if I know. Okay, I'll bite. If I was King of the World, I'd breach all four dams -- Hoeshop, Parker's, Shovelshop and Langwater -- and let Queset Brook revert to its natural channel, creating an immense amount of green space and wildlife habitat in North Easton village, and restore the necessary conditions for trout to resume living in Trout Hole Brook. The logical first step would be to breach the old wooden Hoeshop dam, since it impounds very little water and is partly on conservation land owned by the Town of Easton. This would fully restore Queset from Parker's to Flyaway and Ames Long Pond, and more important, would restore connectivity from the brook above Parker's to the thermal refugia in the brook coming from Lincoln Springs. The next thing I'd do is test the water in that little brook to see if it is being affected by the chlorine used at the Town Pool. It is illegal to discharge chlorine into a waterbody in concentrations that affect aquatic life. So that needs to be checked out. And, at a minimum, I would put fish ladders at Langwater, Shovelshop and Parker's to restore connectivity. Given the springs which Joe Cardoza said they hit digging out Langwater in the 1970s, it's possible that the water in the deepest parts of the pond are cold enough and oxygenated enough to act as thermal refugia for trout during the critical summer months.

Anyways. Here's a little movie Tim and I made when we walked around Lincoln Springs and up to Flyaway and Picker Pond a few Thanksgivings ago. This is the source of cold, pure water that kept the native brook trout of Trout Hole Brook alive. The first frame shows one of the spring holes bubbling up from the bottom of the Town Pool. You can hear the guns from the Ames Rifle & Pistol Club in the background. The music is by Ali Farka Toure, from his album "Radio Mali."

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Sturgeon at Norridgewock, Maine, on the Kennebec River and Sandy Rivers.

A "scute" or skin plate of an Atlantic sturgeon, recovered from a 2,000 year old shell midden near Bristol, Maine, July 2005.

Art Spiess, senior archaeologist with the Maine Historical Preservation Commission, sends along some more details of a recent archaeological dig at the Norridgewock Mission site, dated 1695-1724. Feature 15 at the site, a straight sided, flat bottomed storage cache, contained 469 fish bones, of which 77 could be identified to species. The breakdown is 1 sturgeon, 24 American eel, 3 alewife/shad, 22 white sucker, 1 striped bass, 4 yellow perch, 1 Atlantic salmon, 21 hornpout (bullhead). The data are from a 2002 Ph.D. thesis by Ellen Cowie. [Note: the numbers refer to individual bones identified to species, not the number of individual fish.]

What is striking about this find is the wide variety of fish species present, including most of the above-tidal migratory fish species native to the Kennebec, as well as three non-migratory species, white sucker, yellow perch and hornpout. The only native migrating fish not present in the cache are sea lamprey, rainbow smelt and tomcod.

Most surprising is the presence of sturgeon, which according to conventional wisdom, did not migrate up the Kennebec past Ticonic Falls in Waterville, Maine, 30 river miles downstream from Norridgewock. The find of a sturgeon raises the "carried there or caught there" conundrum. In order for the sturgeon to have been caught 30-50 miles downriver, it would have to have been smoked hard at the capture site to keep it from spoiling and then transported back upriver for 30-50 miles and then, finally, eaten.

Locations of sturgeon remains from Kennebec River Native American habitation sites.

This raises the obvious question of why someone would go through all of this effort to catch a sturgeon at tidewater, smoke it, and then paddle 30-50 miles against the current up to Norridgewock before eating it. Why not just eat where it was caught? Why not eat it at some point during the long, hard 50 mile canoe trip back upriver?

The great variety and number of fish in the cache shows there was no shortage of fish to be caught at or nearby the Norridgewock mission site. Why make such an effort to catch, smoke and transport a single fish from 30-50 miles downriver when there was an abundance of fish to be caught on-site?

And why do we even need to question whether the sturgeon was caught at the site or not?

The reason is that conventional wisdom holds that sturgeon did not migrate up the Kennebec past Waterville, 30 miles below Norridgewock. This belief is not based on information and evidence, but on a lack of information and evidence. Up until now there are no documented records of sturgeon above Waterville. There may be some, and only diligent search can turn them up, but to date, they have not. A problem with estimating a fishes' natural range by this method is that it violates the general evidence rule of science: absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, ie. you can't draw a positive conclusion from a negative finding.

In contrast with sturgeon, there are independent lines of evidence which confidently rule out such hypotheticals as swordfish or bluefish swimming up to Norridgewock, since they cannot survive in freshwater. If a swordfish bone were found at Norridgewock we could say with confidence that it had to have been carried there from saltwater. As Thoreau said, "sometimes circumstantial evidence can be quite strong, as when you find a trout in the milk." But unlike a swordfish or whale bone, there is no reason a sturgeon at Norridgewock would be like "a trout in the milk."

Five foot long Atlantic sturgeon leaping in the Kennebec River in Augusta, Maine. The entire photo sequence is here.

Looking at the documented migrational range of sturgeon in other Atlantic coast rivers, we find that the distance from Norridgewock to tidewater on the Kennebec (approx. 50 miles) is well within the migrational range that sturgeon are known to travel. A sturgeon swimming 50 miles above tidewater is not an unusual behavior or occurrence. It is quite normal.

The discrepancy between archaeological evidence and the 'conventional wisdom' of the range of sturgeon is not confined to the Kennebec River. On the Penobscot, the 'conventional wisdom' holds that sturgeon did not migrate past the ledge drops at Indian Island in Old Town. Yet there is a well-known record of burned, calcined shortnosed sturgeon bone from the Hirundo site in Alton, Maine on Pushaw Stream, a number of miles upstream from Indian Island. This aerial view shows the rapids at the Hirundo site, Pushaw Stream, Alton, Maine. Pushaw Stream drains Pushaw Lake, which historically held a very large alewife population. Shortnosed sturgeon conduct their spawning runs in early to mid-May, at the same time as alewives. A weir fishery for alewives at this site would intercept shortnosed sturgeon present.
This map shows the location of sturgeon bones found at the Hirundo site on Pushaw Stream in Alton as compared with the location of the alleged 'impassable' barrier for sturgeon at Old Town and Milford.
The risk associated with an over-reliance on 'conventional wisdoms' is shown at the State of Maine and University of Maine's official 'scientific synthesis' website for the Penobscot River. This resource cites the Hirundo archaeological site as one of three places on the Penobscot River where sturgeon bones have been found, but goes on to say in the next sentence, "Most likely, sturgeon historically ranged as far up the Penobscot as Milford, where natural falls and ledges prevented them from migrating any farther upstream." A small problem is that the Hirundo site, on Pushaw Stream, is located well above the ledge drops in Milford. The same page states the Penobscot River is the "northern limit" for Atlantic sturgeon, even though the supporting scientific link for this statement correctly states that Atlantic sturgeon live as far north as the Gulf of St. Lawrence and southern Labrador. This resource is further contradicted by an 1825 eyewitness description of 20-40 pound striped bass in the middle and lower Piscataquis River, 30 miles above Milford. These basic errors of fact show why sources relying on a 'conventional wisdom' approach require careful scrutiny.

Steve Fernandes with a medium sized shortnosed sturgeon from the Penobscot River.

Junction of Kennebec and Sandy Rivers near Norridgewock Mission Settlement, Norridgewock, Maine. The Sandy enters from the opposite side.

On the Kennebec, in contrast to the Penobscot, the archaeological record prior to 2000 agrees with the "best conservative guess" of an upstream limit of sturgeon somewhere near Ticonic Falls in Waterville. Prior to the Norridgewock find, the farthest upstream prehistoric records of sturgeon were at the junction of the Kennebec and Sebasticook Rivers in Winslow and one mile up the Sebasticook at the outlet of China Lake Stream. With the Norridgewock find, the migration limit of sturgeon shifts upstream by at least 30 miles to the falls on the Kennebec at Madison and the Sandy River up to Farmington Falls. While this more than doubles the natural range of sturgeon in the Kennebec River, this revised range is well within the normal migrational range of the species documented in other U.S. and Canadian rivers.

Additional supporting evidence is provided by the recent capture of adult shortnosed sturgeon at the very top of Ticonic Falls by the dam owner, FPL Energy, during spring flashboard replacement. Due to the configuration of the low dam spillway at the top of the ledges at Ticonic Falls, it is apparent that if the concrete dam spillway were not present at the site, the shortnosed sturgeon captured by FPL at the toe of the spillway would have been able to continue swimming upstream.

Unlike statements in old historical records, the remains of sturgeon bones in an archaeological site are direct, physical evidence of presence. Their existence at a site must have an explanation. In this instance, there are only two possible. The sturgeon either swam to Norridgewock or was caught 30-50 miles downriver, smoked to prevent spoiling, and then carried to Norridgewock and eaten. Occam's Razor favors the former, as it requires far less special pleading than the latter.

If and when funding becomes available to conduct additional archaeological surveys of prehistoric habitation sites along the Kennebec and Penobscot Rivers, faunal remains found at these sites should provide us with additional illumination on the natural range of all of the migratory fish native to these rivers.

Are sturgeon weak swimmers? You decide:

Monday, November 30, 2009

New Evidence Doubles Natural Range of Striped Bass in Kennebec River, Maine.

By Douglas Watts
Augusta, Maine
November, 2009

Conventional wisdom holds that striped bass (Morone saxatilis) did not migrate up the Kennebec River past Ticonic Falls at Waterville, Maine, 20 miles above the river's head of tide in Augusta, Maine.

Archaeological evidence suggests this may be wrong. Arthur Spiess, chief archaeologist with the Maine Historic Preservation ResearchBlogging.orgCommission, has gone through his research holdings and located a record of striped bass vertebra found in a recent excavation of a food cache at the late 1600s Kennebec Indian village at the junction of the Sandy and Kennebec Rivers in Norridgewock, Maine. The vertebra is in sufficiently good preservation to provide a positive identification to species (Spiess 2009, personal communication).

This finding expands upon recent archaeological research showing striped bass lived throughout the Sebasticook River drainage prior to 18th and 19th century dam building; and recent historic research on Maine's Penobscot River showing that large striped bass (20-40 pounds) migrated much farther up the Penobscot than previously thought.

Norridgewock is at the junction of the Kennebec and Sandy Rivers, approx. 30 river miles above Ticonic Falls at Waterville and 10 miles above the large natural falls at Skowhegan.

Historic records and oral recollections, collected and summarized in Atkins (1867), show that alewives and shad migrated past Ticonic Falls on the Kennebec as far as the junction of the Kennebec and Sandy Rivers in Norridgewock. Atkins states that alewives and shad could not ascend the Kennebec past a one mile series of falls and rapids just above Norridgewock, at Madison and Anson, Maine. Above these falls at Madison, Atkins found no records or recollection of alewives and shad, but found numerous records of Atlantic salmon. As for striped bass, Atkins states they "ascended as far as Waterville, and to some distance on the Sebasticook."

[Here is a movie snippet of Ticonic Falls in Waterville.]

Swum or Carried?

The use of archaeological digs to determine the natural range of a fish carries an obvious uncertainty. Was the fish caught somewhere else and carried to the site and eaten? Or was the fish caught at the site and eaten?

In some cases the distinction is easy. If the fish is a saltwater-only species, ie. a swordfish or mackerel, and is found 100 miles away from saltwater, we can conclude it had to have been brought there. With striped bass, the distinction is not so easy. The striper in question could have been caught miles away and carried to the site, or it could have been caught in the Kennebec River right next to the site in Norridgewock and consumed a few hours after being caught.

Norridgewock is about 30 river miles from Ticonic Falls in Waterville, where we know stripers live (since we see them and catch them). Dams prevent stripers from getting any farther up river. If the natural limit of stripers was at Ticonic Falls, then the striper eaten at Norridgewock would have to have been caught at or below Waterville and then transported 30 miles upriver to Norridgewock.

By canoe, the upriver 30 mile trip from below Waterville to Norridgewock would take at least several days. Even a downstream canoe trip on the Kennebec only covers about 15-20 miles a day. Paddling against the current would at least halve this. If we assume 10 miles a day upstream by a very strong paddler, the trip from Waterville to Norridgewock would take three days. A striped bass transported this distance would be seriously decayed and inedible if left out dead for three days at "room temperature." It would be .. err... ripe. This makes it hard to imagine how a striper could have been caught below Waterville and brought to Norridgewock to be eaten there.

The next question is whether the striped bass found at Norridgewock could have been caught and preserved by smoking or salting well down river and then brought up river. Native Americans smoked fish to preserve them, particularly alewives and shad. Striped bass can be smoked, so it is at least possible the striper in question at Norridgewock was caught well down river smoked and brought up to Norridgewock where it was eaten and its bones were discarded.

Now let's look at other reasons why or why not this striper might have been caught at Norridgewock.

How far do striped bass migrate up New England rivers?

The short answer seems to be as far as they can, especially if there are large runs of alewives and shad and eels to feed on. The only thing which seems to prevent the upstream migration of striped bass on large rivers are impassable falls, or in this era, impassable dams.

The conventional wisdom on the Kennebec River is that Ticonic Falls in Waterville was, for striped bass, an impassable falls. We have no evidence to prove this. All we have is a brief statement by Atkins (1867) that striped bass did not migrate above the falls. Because the falls have been dammed since the early 1800s, there is no way to determine today if striped bass would migrate above the falls if they were in their natural condition and not dammed.

We know from Atkins that alewives and shad migrated well above Ticonic Falls, all the way to Norridgewock, 30 miles farther upriver. We know that striped bass follow alewife and shad migrations up river to eat them. Given these facts, there would be a definite reward for stripers to continue migrating upriver past Ticonic Falls to feed on alewife and shad. The question then becomes if the physiology of striped bass prevents them from ascending falls that alewives and shad can pass.

Alewives and shad migrate falls by swimming through them, unlike Atlantic salmon, which can leap out of the water to get over falls that are too steep to swim through. Alewives and shad do this by finding the most effective passage route and using what is called "burst swimming" to get through small areas with very high current velocities, ie. at the lip of a falls. Burst swimming is an extremely energetic swimming motion that fish can only sustain for a short period of time. Is there any evidence that striped bass lack the "burst swimming" ability of alewives and shad?

What is the swimming speed of a fully laden Kennebec River striped bass?

Research by Castro-Santos et al. (2005) shows a clear difference in the response of clupeids (alewives, blueback herring and shad) vs. striped bass, walleye and white sucker to a high velocity challenge in experimental flumes. But the authors note, "The consistent failure by the nonclupeids to switch to the distance-maximizing groundspeed for sprint mode means that these species are less likely to successfully traverse velocity barriers, even though such success is within their physiological capacity."

This finding suggests that nothing in the physiology of striped bass prevents similarly sized striped bass from ascending the type of velocity barriers ascended by alewives and shad. Instead, their reluctance (when they exhibit it) seems more likely behavioral. Unlike shad and alewife, the upstream migrations of striped bass well above the head of tide are driven by feeding, not spawning, especially for stripers which have yet to reach sexual maturity. Striped bass do not have the sexual/survival imperative to migrate far upstream that alewives and shad possess during their upstream migrations.

It's a lot more important for alewives and shad to get past difficult instream obstacles, and it's less important for striped bass, and for this reason, alewives and shad seem to have an instinctive tendency to devote far more time and energy to ascending an obstacle than striped bass of similar size.

The experimental observations of Castro-Santos et al. suggest striped bass will only ascend difficult falls opportunistically and will only devote a discrete amount of time and effort to do so. If water and flow conditions are conducive to passage, X number of stripers below a falls will find successful passage routes, ascend the falls, and follow the migration of alewives and shad and feed on them. If and when flow conditions at a falls make passage very difficult, fewer stripers will decide to invest in the effort and fewer will pass over.

This reasoning is supported by the fact that the post-spawning mortality rate of alewives, blueback herring and shad is in the range of 50 percent in New England river systems. This mortality is in part due to these fish becoming so physically exhausted, battered and withered during their spawning migrations that they do not survive after spawning to return to the ocean. From a genetic sense, it is worth it for a sexually mature alewife or shad to exert tremendous energy to reach ideal spawning habitat, even if this expenditure greatly reduces their chances of surviving after spawning.

The act of trying to swim over a difficult falls places a fish in great risk of being caught and eaten or injured by fish-eating birds such as great blue heron, cormorants, osprey and bald eagle, as well as mink, otter, black bear and seals, which patrol and set up feeding stations at these sites. Unlike alewives and shad, striped bass have much less at stake in getting above these falls, and appear less willing to accept the level of risk that alewives and shad accept at the same site. [Footnote: Since the Edwards Dam was removed in Augusta in 1999, harbor seals have been repeatedly observed at Ticonic Falls in Waterville during alewife and shad runs; 18th century records describe black bear catching alewives from Worromontogus Stream, which enters the Kennebec in Gardiner, Maine.]

From this evidence it seems implausible to discount the opportunistic migration of striped bass at the same sites where alewives and shad are documented to pass because there is no evidence that striped bass are physiologically less able than alewives and shad to swim past the same instream obstacles.

How big are Ticonic Falls?

Ticonic Falls is in downtown Waterville and Winslow, Maine. Like most "falls" on New England coastal rivers, they are not actual waterfalls, but a river section that flows over bare bedrock, creating turbulent rapids. The dam at Ticonic Falls is of mid-19th century construction and on the falls itself consists of a poured concrete wall anchored in the ledges. This wall is anywhere from 6 to 10 feet higher than the natural ledge and creates a 1 mile long impoundment of what was naturally a long section of rapids called "College Rips." The concrete wall/spillway appears to be built at the top lip of the falls. For this reason, much of the original falls are still in their natural condition, and at low river flows one can walk all around them and examine them in detail. I have done this for many years to study exactly how fish get up the falls to the toe of the concrete spillway, where their progress, unfortunately, is completely stopped.

What I found is that virtually every diadromous fish native to the river are able to swim all the way through the falls to the toe of the concrete spillway, including alewife, blueback herring, stripers, sea lamprey, juvenile American eel as well as exotic species such as small brown trout and smallmouth bass. Investigations conducted since 1999 by the dam owner, FPL Energy, during flashboard replacement at the spillway in late spring, have found adult shortnosed sturgeon and Atlantic salmon at the toe of the spillway as well. Because the toe of the concrete spillway is built on the surface of the natural ledges, this suggests that if the concrete spillway were not present, all of these species would be able to swim over the ledges and continue upstream.

This raises the question of why Atkins suggested Ticonic Falls as the natural upstream migration limit for striped bass on the Kennebec River. Atkins wrote this in 1867, or 30 years after all fish migration up the Kennebec River had been stopped by construction of the Edwards Dam in Augusta. Atkins was unable to observe any migratory fish in the Kennebec River above Augusta during his lifetime. Instead, he was forced to rely on scattered written records and the 30-50 year old oral recollections of people who knew the river before it was dammed in 1837. By Atkins' time, these people were getting hard to find. Atkins' statement that stripers "ascended as far as Waterville" suggests he could not find any records or observations of striped bass above Waterville and decided to phrase his range description. His method can be seen in the way he described stripers as going "to some distance" up the Sebasticook in his original 1867 report, but in his 1869 report changed this to say stripers went a "short distance" up the Sebasticook. This editing suggests Atkins preferred to underestimate the natural, pre-dam range of fish species in the Kennebec River unless he had compelling evidence to suggest otherwise. This preference by Atkins is important, since his work has become virtually the sole basis for all modern estimates of the natural range of diadromous fish in the Kennebec and other Maine rivers. [Footnote: Recent documentary research at the Maine State Archives and Maine State Library shows Atkins missed a large number of historic records from the late 1700s and early 1800s when he published his 1867 and 1869 reports. These records were available to Atkins at the time, but for unknown reasons he did not use them.]

Different migration windows

The upstream migration of clupeids in river systems are determined by the timing of their sexual clocks. Each species, alewife, blueback herring, and American shad have a finite and limited migration window in which they must successfully negotiate instream obstacles in a river to get to their natal spawning habitat.

On the Kennebec at Waterville, the migration window for alewives is late April to late May, and for blueback herring and shad the window is from mid May to mid June. To reach preferred spawning habitat before their sexual organs "command" them to spawn, all three species must negotiate the river on a narrow and circumscribed schedule of 4-6 weeks.

In contrast, striped bass migrating upriver solely for feeding purposes have sexual constraints on their migration window. Unlike spawning clupeids, if flow conditions at a falls are not conducive to passage until early or mid summer, the stripers can wait. The reward for waiting for a passage opportunity at a falls is that the stripers gain access to an enormous amount of riverine habitat for feeding that is comparatively empty of competing predators. The stripers that pursue and succeed in the opportunity to get over falls get to go to the "top of the feed line." On the Kennebec, a striper patient and strong enough to pass over Ticonic Falls gains access to miles and miles of ideal habitat in the middle portions of the Kennebec and Sandy Rivers which is comparatively barren of competing predators but is full of juvenile alewives, blueback herring, shad and eels. The growth and survival advantage for striped bass who select this option cannot be discounted.

Implications for restoration of striped bass

The Kennebec River is one of the few large river systems north of the Hudson which had a native, spawning population of striped bass (Atkins 1869; Squiers 1988; Dadswell 1996). The presence of native striped bass in the Kennebec River is due to the lack of impassable falls above tidewater. This allows sexually mature stripers to swim far enough up river so their free-floating eggs can hatch before encountering waters with a salinity in excess of 1 ppt.

Dam-building on the Kennebec River after 1837 severely constrained the ability of native striped bass to move far enough upstream to successfully spawn. Removal of the Edwards Dam at the Kennebec's head of tide in 1999 has restored access for striped bass to 20 miles of above-tidal river habitat between Augusta and Waterville, Maine. Removal of the Fort Halifax Dam at the mouth of the Sebasticook River in Winslow, Maine in 2008 has created the potential for restoring access for striped bass to its native habitat in the vast 1,000 square mile Sebasticook River drainage, the Kennebec's largest tributary.

Impassable dams still prevent striped bass from freely ascending the Kennebec past Waterville and the Sebasticook past Benton Falls, six miles from its mouth. Regulatory decisions on whether to allow striped bass to migrate upriver past these dams have been solely based on historic records gathered by Atkins (1867). Archaeological evidence from both rivers shows that striped bass migrated up the Kennebec and Sebasticook Rivers much farther than contemplated by Atkins, greatly increasing the natural, historic range of striped bass in the Kennebec River system compared to what has been previously assumed. Based upon this new evidence, fisheries agencies in Maine should ensure that any striped bass attempting to enter fishlifts at the Lockwood Dam on the Kennebec River in Waterville and at the Benton Falls Dam on the Sebasticook River are safely passed upriver into their native habitat upstream.

This new evidence shows the need for fisheries scientists to work closely with archaeologists to factually establish the natural range of diadromous fish species in river systems, especially those heavily impacted by damming in the 18th and 19th centuries. Like all New England rivers, the Kennebec was heavily dammed beginning in the early 19th century and for this reason, delineation of the natural range of diadromous species in these river systems must be pieced together through obscure and fragmentary documentary sources. Archaeological evidence provides a critical ground truthing to assess the veracity of later records which rely upon secondary historic sources. To gain access to the archaeological record, fisheries scientists must get to know archaeologists working in the same watershed and ask what they know and what they have found. Often, as in this case, a detail considered very minor to archaeologists (a striped bass bone from the 1600s in Norridgewock, Maine) can be valuable evidence for a fisheries scientist trying to piece together the natural range and habitat of diadromous fish species and the pre-industrial ecology of northeast coastal river systems.

Atkins, C. 1867. Maine Fish Commissioners Report in Twelfth Annual Report of the Secretary of the Maine Board of Agriculture. Stevens & Sayward. Augusta, Maine.

Castro-Santos, T. 2005. Optimal swim speeds for traversing velocity barriers: an analysis of volitional high-speed swimming behavior of migratory fishes. Journal of Experimental Biology, 208 (3), 421-432 DOI: 10.1242/jeb.01380

Dadswell, M.J. 1996. The Removal of Edwards Dam, Kennebec River, Maine. Its Effect on the Restoration of Anadromous Fishes. Prepared for the Kennebec Coalition. Augusta, Maine. March, 1996.

Squiers, T. 1988. Anadromous Fisheries in the Kennebec River Estuary. Maine Department of Marine Resources. Augusta, Maine.

Spiess, Arthur. 2009. Unpublished archaeological records from the database of the Maine Historical Preservation Commission, Augusta, Maine.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

David Archer's Univ. of Chicago Climate Science Lectures

Prof. David Archer of the Univ. of Chicago and a contributor to realclimate.org, has posted videos of his class lectures in Climate Science for everyone to watch. This course is designed for non-science majors so is very light on mathematical equations and calculations, but is very thorough nonetheless.

Fun to watch. Like taking a college course without having to pay $1,000.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Another Bad Day in the Denialosphere

A fairly random scattering of recent "thoughts" on science from readers of the American Spectator.

Bill| 11.24.09 @ 11:20AM

The Clinton Administration (i.e. Al Gore) implemented a revised measurement system of weather temps. They stated it would slightly increase the stated temps but, not to worry, all historical temp records would be updated (converted to) the new scale. If that did not happen, then all recorded temps since that time in the mid-90's would be higher than "comparable" earlier scale temps even if they were not.


Tish| 11.24.09 @ 1:28PM

My 7th grade science teacher taught me something about scientific research which has held up well over the intervening half-century: a 99% probability is still a 100% uncertainty.


Joe Olson| 11.25.09 @ 3:10PM
Dear John
Ignorance is bliss, and you must quite blistfull. The 'manmade global warming hoax' is a century old arguement by the Progressives for their program of eugenics. Please read my articles "Strange Tale of Green House G as Gang" for this valuable history. The REAL cause of climate change is the variable Geo-nuclear energy as explained in my article "Motive Force Behind All Climate Change" and has nothing to do with CO2.

Douglas | 11.25.09 @ 10:25AM

I assure you the climate is changing because it always does. People are so self important they believe 50 years is a long time in geological terms. 10,000 years ago there was a mile of ice above where I sit. It melted for some reason. Why? The climate changed!

Chief1942| 11.24.09 @ 3:26PM

As a typical lay person with no specific training in the regimines of science and peer review, I will now be sceptical of much that "science" has professed for all my 67 years. I certainly am not painting with too large a brush ..

Joseph A Olson, PE| 11.24.09 @ 7:55PM

It is very important to put the century old carbon warming fraud in perspective....please read "Strange Tale of Green House Gas Gang" and "One Pleasant Day in Runnymede"....now that enough dots are visible it is easy to extrapolate the AGW position to it's ultimate goal....destruction of freedom and euginics for ALL.....


You have to read "Motive Force Behind All Climate Change."

Not of timecube quality, but junior varsity with a bullet.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Good News for the Hockomock Swamp

According to the Brockton Enterprise, Massachusetts is too broke to build the planned railroad through the heart of the Hockomock Swamp.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Kennebec River Sea Lamprey

One of my dear friends, a male sea lamprey, (Petromyzon marinus), in his native home in Bond Brook, Kennebec River, Augusta, Maine, just prior to spawning in June.

Like many animals, just about everything we think we know about the sea lamprey is wrong.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Rigor Mortis Raccoon

This is a song written by Curtis Harvey and sung by Tricia Belskis, Denise Murphy and yours truly on guitar in the kitchen of the apartment upstairs at 541 Waldo Street, Rumford, Maine. I think Curtis wrote it when he was doing carpentry work near Five Kezar Ponds. It was on Otis Coyote's second album, which was recorded at the Outlook in Bethel, Maine. I was at the studio when they recorded the record (all live, in one day, no overdubs) and liked the song so much I started playing it at my apartment in Rumford, where it became quite a local hit in fall and winter 1990.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Maine Mineral Photo of the Day

Pink tourmaline and purple lepidolite in cleavelandite, Greenlaw Quarry, Mount Apatite, Auburn, Maine.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Maine Mineral Photo of the Day

This is a uraninite crystal from the Swamp #1 Quarry, Topsham, Maine collected in 1996. It is about the size of a pea with a chevron face and the high gloss surface typical of the Swamp #1 Quarry specimens.

The Swamp # 1 Quarry is a very small early 1900s feldspar mine which has produced some of the finest uraninite crystals in the world. I found this by waving a Geiger counter over the various pieces of quartz/feldspar dump rock until it squawked. Upon breaking up the chunk of feldspar with a sledge, this little bugger popped out. Uraninite is uranium oxide (UO2). In most of the Topsham granite pegmatite quarries the uraninite is at a higher oxidation level (UO6 or UO8) which causes the crystals to lose their sharp crystal faces and edges and become small, black, chalky blobs, ie. pitchblende, often mixed with a wide range of colorful alteration minerals such as autunite, torbernite, uranophane and others.

The uraninite locality at the Swamp #1 Quarry was discovered in 1958 by Clifford Trebilcock, Jr. of Topsham when he was 13 years old. The quarry was subsequently drained of water and his parents joined him in recovering a large number of high quality uraninite crystal groups. For many years Trebilcock stubbornly refused to say where in Topsham he was finding these uraninite crystals. Because the Topsham pegmatite district has hundreds of large and small quarry pits stretched out over a dozen square miles, competing collectors were stymied in locating where Trebilcock was making his finds. Only with the publication of Maine Mineralogy, Vol. 1 in 1994 did Trebilcock finally reveal that the Swamp #1 Quarry was his source.

Click here to embiggen.

Here's a nice photo of one of Trebilcock's early finds.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Kennebec Indian Post of the Day: A Plummet

This is a plummet. It was found by Tim Watts at Babcocks Rapids on the Kennebec River in Augusta, Maine in 2000 where we have found many prehistoric stone tools along the river bank, and also prehistoric sturgeon bones. Many purposes have been proposed for plummets, including a fishing sinker or a weight for a net, but nobody really knows what they were used for.

Plummets of many sizes were common during one period of civilization in Maine, the "Red Paint People" period, 4,500-3,700 years ago, but are rarely found before or after that period. They were made by pecking the stone with a harder stone.

They took a lot of time and skill to make. Getting that nice, tight smooth collar must have been a task.

I do not believe plummets were made or used as fishing or net sinkers. They took far too long to make and are too carefully made for such a throwaway purpose. Anyone who has fished knows that fishing sinkers of the shape represented by plummets are lost very quickly by getting jammed into crevices in the bottom or wrapped around sunken logs, causing the loss of all your line and gear. For the same reason, the use of large plummets as net weights is equally doubtful. These items took days to weeks to make, and if used as net weights would be extremely susceptible to loss by entanglement in bottom clutter. There is no evidence that 4,000 year old Native Americans ever used large nets to catch fish; and if they did it would be much easier to stitch or tie appropriately sized and shaped pieces of unworked river rock into the lowest part of the net to act as disposable bottom weights. What we know of fishing techniques from Contact Period Native American culture is that very large fish, like sturgeon, were caught by spearing and harpooning, and smaller fish like alewives were caught in their spawning streams using stone and brush weirs.

Given these facts, and the unique appearance of plummets during the "Red Paint" culture of New England Indians and their disappearance thereafter, I believe plummets were made as ceremonial objects. Their similarity to a male testicle may not be coincidental.

This plummet is about 4,000 years old.

Tim Watts at Babcocks Rapids, Kennebec River, Augusta, Maine. The place where he found the plummet is at the boulder point. This is where 6 foot long Atlantic sturgeon congregate in the summer to jump and spawn.

Tim found this plummet because in 1999 the Edwards Dam was removed from the Kennebec River, two miles below. You can see the "bath tub ring" of the dam's impoundment at the tree line along the opposite bank of the river. Removing this dam took 15 years of fierce legal fighting by concerned citizens of the area, which was the most recent in a 150-year effort to remove the dam by many local people now dead and forgotten.

UPDATE: Bob Doyle, retired State Geologist of the State of Maine, has examined this plummet as to its lithic type. His conclusion is that it is a metamorphosed siltstone.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Prehistoric Kennebec River channel

This summer I found this old, prehistoric channel of the Kennebec River about 1/4 mile from the river at Five Mile Island in Vassalboro, Maine. I believe that this old channel is still a meadow because when the Edwards Dam impoundment was in place from 1837-1999) spring flood flows would overtop the bank and fill the channel once or twice a year.

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The old channel is the light, non-wooded vertical patch in the upper center of this aerial photo on the right side of the river. Below is a terrain map.

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Below is a closer look at the old channel, which is now a meadow with scattered trees. The entire area is criss-crossed with beaver paths.

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The prehistoric channel at Five Mile Island, prior to be cutting off, probably resembled this existing side channel on the Kennebec River in Sidney, about six miles upstream. This aerial photo was taken at very high flows and shows a side channel separated by a "teardrop" shaped gravel bar island from the main channel. This area was completed filled with silt and debris from the impounding effect of the Edwards Dam and is only now starting to regain its natural channel configuration, as spring floods remove the 160 years of in-filling from the dam's construction in 1837.

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A mile farther upriver, on the Vassalboro side, is another set of prehistoric side channels, which are now wooded swamps separated from the river by the railroad grade which cuts through them.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Maine Mineral Photo of the Day

Albite crystal group (var. Cleavelandite), Fisher Topaz Pocket, Fisher Quarry, Topsham Maine, 1996.

Rockabameecook, Canton Point, Androscoggin River, Maine

The broad alluvial plains along the Androscoggin River at Canton Point, Maine is called Rockabameecook by American Indians. It is a very old corn planting place. It is still used for planting corn and potatoes today.

This was filmed in a potato field along Route 108 in Canton last fall. The reason I filmed this was because there was one lonely, defiant corn plant in this giant potato field. I am assuming they had planted this part of the field in corn the year before and this corn plant self-seeded. It looked so noble and kool standing all by itself that I had to make a movie about it.

And then there's the song about Route 108.

Hockomock Swamp video

This is a movie I made in July, 2009 of our little trek into one of the most remote parts of the Hockomock Swamp in South Easton, Massachusetts to a grove of old growth Atlantic white cedar. The video doesn't play well on my computer unless you let it load completely before playing, which takes a few minutes. It looks about a gajillion times better on DVD. If you want a copy send me a note at info "at"dougwatts.com

The weird red-lit stuff at the beginning with the sunshine was done by putting the video camera underwater in Black Brook and pointing it up at the sky. You can see how red the water is, which is due to tannin leaching from the leaves in the swamp.

I made this video primarily to document the size of the Atlantic white cedars in this part of the swamp, but due to Queequeg T. Dog, Ph.D.'s enthusiasm, it came out the way it is. It is presented with the intent of encouraging other folks to take their own little trek into the Hockomock and to encourage its permanent preservation and protection.

Assawompsett Indian Post of the Day

Jasper arrow head from White Banks, Assawompsett Pond, Middleborough, Massachusetts. Found by Doug and Tim Watts, 2003. 10 minutes later at this same spot we saw a hog nosed snake in the sand and it puffed up at us. Yellow bar is 1 cm.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Maine Mineral Photo of the Day

Glass quartz with radioactive burns from dump next to Square Pit, Fisher Road, Topsham, Maine. 1992.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

New Evidence Doubles Historic Range of Striped Bass in the Kennebec and Penobscot Rivers, Maine

Striped Bass, Plum Island, Newbury, Massachusetts.

By Douglas Watts
Augusta, Maine
October, 2009

New historic and archaeological evidence shows striped bass migrated much farther up Maine's Kennebec and Penobscot Rivers than previously imagined.

Up until 2000, the "conventional wisdom" of Maine fisheries biologists was that striped bass did not migrate up the Kennebec River past Waterville and Winslow, Maine (20 miles above the head of tide) and did not migrate up the Penobscot River past Indian Island at Old Town (10 miles above the head of tide).

Matt Kay of Augusta, Maine with a striped bass on the Kennebec River in Augusta, Sept. 1996. The Edwards Dam can be seen in the background. It was removed three years later.

Striped Bass from Kennebec River at Pettys Rips, Waterville, Maine, 2004, 15 miles above the site of the Edwards Dam, removed four years earlier. The striper was electrofished and released as part of a biological study (Yoder et al. 2004).

Kennebec and Sebasticook River Striped Bass

The "conventional wisdom" on the Kennebec River was overthrown in 2002 with the discovery of burned, calcined striped bass bones at a 1,000 year old Ceramic Period prehistoric habitation site on the East Branch Sebasticook River in downtown Newport, Maine (Spiess 2003). The striped bass bones were found 50 miles upstream of the confluence of the Sebasticook and Kennebec Rivers at Waterville and Winslow, Maine. This archaeological find shows that prior to 19th century dam building, striped bass seasonally migrated into and inhabited most, if not all, of the Sebasticook River watershed, and were sought and captured as food by the native people who lived in the area 3,000 years ago.

Site of 1,000 year old fishing and habitation site at outlet of Sebasticook Lake, Newport, Maine on East Branch Sebasticook River, May 2004.

Prior to this discovery, the migration limit of striped bass in the Kennebec River was assumed to be near the confluence of the Kennebec and Sebasticook Rivers in Winslow, Maine, based upon historic evidence in Atkins (1869) which stated that prior to dam building, the migration of striped bass was stopped at Ticonic Falls on the Kennebec River in Waterville and striped bass only migrated "a short distance" up the Sebasticook River above its mouth.

Red arrow at Waterville shows previously assumed upstream limit of striped bass in Kennebec River. Red arrow at Sebasticook Lake in Newport shows additional migration area based on striper bones found in 2002 at Ceramic Period habitation site at outlet of Sebasticook Lake.

The earliest version of Charles Atkins' Fishery Commissioner Reports to the Maine Legislature (Atkins 1867) states that, prior to damming, striped bass went "some distance" up the Sebasticook River. It is not known why Atkins in 1869 changed the language of his 1867 report ("some distance" up the Sebasticook) to the more narrow and conservative phrase, "a short distance" up the Sebasticook.

Charles Atkins' first Maine Fish Commissioners Report in 1867 regarding striped bass shows he got it right in his first report and got it wrong in his later reports. Atkins' reference to winter fishing in the Eastern River in Dresden, Maine (an estuarine tributary of the lower Kennebec River) gives a rather strong clue as to why striped bass had become extremely scarce by the time of his writing. These folks in Dresden were wiping out the entire population of native, sexually mature striped bass overwintering beneath the ice in the lower Kennebec River. Once they caught them all, there were none left to spawn the next spring. Oops.

The construction of the Edwards Dam on the Kennebec River at its head of tide in Augusta, Maine in 1837 ended all migrations of striped bass, Atlantic salmon, American shad, alewives and other fish species up the Kennebec River. For this reason, Charles Atkins was forced to rely upon interviews and recollections of elderly people in the Kennebec River valley to reconstruct the geographic range and migrational extent of striped bass and other fish in the Kennebec River. Atkins himself had never seen the Kennebec River in its natural, undammed character.

Tim Watts with a large striped bass from the Kennebec River at Hallowell, Maine, June 1997. This is a joke photo since we saw the striper floating dead on the river and I convinced Tim to hold it up as if he had caught it.

The archaeological evidence gathered by Spiess (2003) doubles the known, historic migrational range of striped bass in the Kennebec River system, from approx. 50 miles above saltwater to more than 100 miles above saltwater. This discovery also calls into question many of the "conventional wisdoms" held by fisheries biologists regarding the extent to which striped bass utilized freshwater habitat in large coastal river systems. One of these conventional wisdoms is that striped bass tend to confine themselves to the large, deep portions of rivers near and below the head of tide even in the absence of natural migration barriers.

Blue line shows previously assumed historic range of striped bass in Kennebec River system. Red line shows additional range based on archaeological evidence from Sebasticook Lake in Newport.

The Penobscot River Striped Bass

An eyewitness account from 1825 describes very large striped bass in the Piscataquis River, 20 miles above Old Town. This account is taken from early 19th century Bangor newspaper articles summarized in Godfrey (1882). The articles describe a massive forest fire in August of 1825 that burned the lower Piscataquis River valley and the Penobscot River valley from Mattanawcook to Passadumkeag. It states:

"1825: For a fortnight fires were raging in the forests north of Bangor. At one time nearly the whole country from Passadumkeag to Mattanawcook, on both sides of the Penobscot and Piscataquis, was a sea of flame. The roaring of the fire was like thunder, and was heard at a distance from twelve to fifteen miles. The islands in the river were burnt over. The country between Passadumkeag and Lincoln was devastated. The towns upon the Piscataquis suffered from loss of buildings, cattle, fences, crops. The house, barn filled with hay, and store and toolhouse of Joseph McIntosh, of Maxfield, were burned and the family driven to the river for safety. Other houses and barns, and saw-mills and grist-mills, were destroyed. A lad returning from school through the woods was so badly burned that his life was despaired of; hawks and other birds were killed by the fire; and the fish in the Piscataquis River were killed by the heat. Twenty bass, weighing from twenty to forty pounds, many young salmon, shad, trout, and other small fish, were found dead in the shoal water and on the shores."

Red arrow at Old Town shows previously assumed upstream migration limit of striped bass in Penobscot River system. Red arrow in upper left shows the area of the intense forest fire in 1825 in which large striped bass were found dead in the Piscataquis River.

Eyewitness documentation of very large striped bass in the Piscataquis River in 1825 has profound significance for our understanding of the natural ecology of the Penobscot River marine-riverine ecosystem. The gentle gradient and lack of any steep falls on the mainstem Penobscot above Indian Island means striped bass had access to the entire Penobscot River mainstem, the lower reaches of the East and West Branches of the Penobscot in Medway and East Millinocket, and the Piscataquis, Passadumkeag and Mattawamkeag watersheds below their first major falls. All of these waters supported large alewife, blueback herring and shad populations which would give the striped bass an incentive to follow the runs upriver in spring and remain to feed on spawned out adults and down-migrating juveniles in the midsummer, late summer and fall. The name "Shad Pond" given to the lower West Branch Penobscot in Medway shows that the lower West Branch would have attracted feeding stripers during the entire summer and fall. The very large historic American eel population throughout the entire Penobscot drainage would give yet another incentive for striped bass to remain in the middle and upper Penobscot mainstem for significant portions of the year.

Blue line shows previously assumed historic range of striped bass in Penobscot River, based on belief that striped bass were blocked by rapids in Old Town. Red line shows historic range based on 1825 documentation of striped bass in the Piscataquis River, 20 miles above Old Town.

Danny Watts with a striped bass from the Weweantic River, Buzzards Bay, Cape Cod, 2007. This striper is of the size documented in 1825 on the Piscataquis River (20-40 lbs.). Stripers of this size are sexually mature females.
The size of the dead striped bass observed in the Piscataquis River in 1825 (up to 40 lbs.) shows the species was the apex predator and largest fish to inhabit the Penobscot River above Indian Island in Old Town.

The Two Imperatives of Striped Bass in Freshwater

Striped bass have two motivations to migrate up large coastal rivers into freshwater riverine habitat: feeding and spawning. Feeding forays into freshwater are spurred by the seasonal migrations of alosids (alewives, blueback herring and American shad) and American eel, all of which cohabit these waters with striped bass and prior to 19th dam-building, existed in very large numbers in the Kennebec and Penobscot river systems. Spawning is the second motivation. Striped bass spawn in freshwater and must deposit their eggs well above the freshwater/saltwater interface for them to survive. This is because striped bass are "broadcast spawners" and deposit their eggs in mid-river in June and early July. The eggs have neutral buoyancy and drift downstream with the current for 24 hours or more before they hatch. If the eggs drift into saline water (in excess of 1 ppt) before they hatch, they die. For this reason, sexually mature striped bass must migrate a considerable distance above the freshwater/saltwater interface in order to spawn successfully. Scientific papers supporting the above are as follows:

Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (1995) states: "Historically, striped bass probably spawned in all larger rivers along the Atlantic Coast prior to the construction of dams and deterioration of water quality (ASMFC 1990). For many stocks, spawning areas are fresh to brackish waters and are generally located in the first 25 miles of freshwater in the river, with salinities of 0-5 parts per thousand. Some fish, such as those in the Hudson, Rappahannock, Roanoke and Neuse Rivers, migrate over a hundred miles upstream from the river mouths to spawn (Janicki et al. 1985)."

Dadswell (1996) states: "Striped bass are large, percoid fish which can attain lengths of 150 cm and weights of 40-50 kg (Scott and Scott 1988). Spawning is estuarine and freshwater usually near the head of tide in water of less than 1 part per thousand salinity (ppt; Setzler-Hamilton et al. 1981), but in some rivers as far as 120 miles upstream of tidewater (Roanoke River, N.C.; Rulifson and Mannoch 1990)."

Squiers (1988) states: "The spawning areas [of striped bass] range from head of tide in Chesapeake Bay to small tidal river systems 12 miles upstream to 80 miles above tidewater on the Roanoke River in North Carolina and 200 miles above tidewater on the St. John River in Canada. The location of spawning is probably an adaptation of certain stocks to the water temperatures at the time of spawning. Upriver spawners are probably early run fish while tidal river spawners would probably be late run spawners in order for egg incubation to coincide with availability of freshwater flow. This would allow for adequate incubation time before the fry reach low salinity waters. Studies by Rathjen and Miller (1955) demonstrated that live striped bass eggs in the Hudson River were not found in areas of salinity in excess of 1: 1,000. Therefore, upriver and near head-of-tide stocks of striped bass have to be very temperature sensitive in order to accommodate egg incubation time with extent of freshwater flow."

Scott and Crossman (1973) noted the presence of spawning striped bass in the St. Lawrence River as far upstream as Montreal: "Throughout its range the striped bass spawns in fresh water. In the St. Lawrence River there is a fall migration upriver, the potential spawners spend the winter in the river, then swim up to their spawning grounds in the spring, usually spawning in June. Prespawning fish may travel long distances upriver, in fresh water. In former years some large fish have been taken as far inland as lac Saint-Pierre and a very few individuals have been caught at lac Saint-Louis in Montreal ... In some rivers spawning occurs just above the head of tide, but in most cases the ripe fish seem to move well into fresh water before spawning."

The above citations clearly show that striped bass in many river systems select spawning habitat many miles above the head of tide; and that this adaptive behavior ensures spawning success by preventing striped bass eggs from reaching saline waters prior to hatching. The mainstem Penobscot River above Old Town is situated well within the range of spawning migrations observed for striped bass in large rivers in the eastern United States. The 1825 account describing large stripers in the Piscataquis River forces us to re-examine the conventional wisdom that the Penobscot River did not support a spawning population of striped bass. This account shows that striped bass of spawning size migrated 40-60 miles above the summer salt wedge on the Penobscot River. This is the same distance above saltwater influence that striped bass now travel on the Kennebec River (Bath to Waterville, approx. 60 miles) . Just like at the Kennebec River at Waterville, the mainstem of the Penobscot below Medway, Mattawamkeag and Howland is more than sufficient to allow striped bass eggs to incubate and hatch before reaching saline waters in the lower Penobscot River.

Are Striped Bass "weak" swimmers?

A common "conventional wisdom" against extensive freshwater migration by striped bass in Maine rivers is that they cannot negotiate large, steep ledge drops and falls on rivers, and for this reason were stopped by the first significant falls on a coastal river. This failure is variously attributed to striped bass being "weak" swimmers that cannot swim through heavy water and the inability of striped bass to leap clear out of the water, like Atlantic salmon, to pass over a falls. While it is true that striped bass do not leap straight out of the water like Atlantic salmon at falls, it is completely untrue that they are "weak" swimmers and cannot swim in currents easily negotiated by alewives, blueback herring and American shad. This is demonstrated by striped bass at the large tidal rips at Woods Hole, Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Striped bass caught by Tim Watts off Nauset Light, Woods Hole, Cape Cod.

The Woods Hole Tidal Rips

Woods Hole gets its name by being a "hole" in the Elizabeth Islands, which separate Buzzards Bay from Vineyard Sound on the south side of Cape Cod. Because several hours separate the timing of high tide between Buzzards Bay and Vineyard Sound, twice a day an enormous tidal rip occurs in Woods Hole as water flows from Buzzards Bay (when it is at high tide) to Vineyard Sound (when it is below high tide) and vice versa. Because Woods Hole is shallow, these tidal rips create very strong currents and large standing waves (similar to Class IV whitewater) where the current breaks over submarine boulder piles and ridges. Large striped bass use these "rips" as feeding stations for bait fish swept through the channel at Woods Hole and can be caught in large numbers, even though the current is so swift that maintaining a boat in them is dangerous.

Kayaker and writer Dave Jacques describes kayaking the Woods Hole tidal rips in a 2005 article in Wavelength magazine:

"Woods Hole, like nearby Robinsons and Quicks Holes, is a narrow gap in the Elizabeth Islands through which tides pour daily, year in, year out. The tides run in concert with the phases of the moon and are so consistent that their patterns can be accurately detailed for years to come ... We paddle out into the Woods Hole channel with a hard lean and strong ruddering, and the kayaks slide into the heavy, 5-knot current. Surfing the standing waves produced by the current, we ferry out into the middle of Woods Hole. We look down and see the current is ripping along under us over rocky shoals covered with colorful seaweed and kelp. A striped bass shoots by. Rather than being swept backward by the current, however, we find ourselves surfing forward. We are riding the standing waves, letting them do the work."

U.S. Coast Guard charts show maximum tidal flow in Woods Hole Passage is about five knots. This is a current velocity of 8.4 feet per second. We know by direct evidence that large striped bass are extremely numerous in the rips at Woods Hole feeding during maximum tidal flow, which means they are inhabiting an area with a steady current of 8 feet per second. While stripers take advantage of velocity refugia behind boulders in this area, they frequently go straight into the main current itself to chase bait fish being blown through the passage. This figure of 8 feet per second is considered by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to be the maximum current velocity for upstream migrating fish (USFWS 2009).

Striped bass in the rips at Woods Hole passage are not trying to move through this heavy current to get upstream, but are selecting and sitting in these currents, day in and day out, eating smaller fish. This shows that rapids and tidal bores with a current velocity of 8 feet per second are often a preferred living habitat for large striped bass, not a "difficult spot" they would prefer to avoid, but must somehow pass through, in order to get upriver. It is hard to imagine how, among sea-run fish, striped bass could ever be called "weak" swimmers since of all sea-run fish, striped bass are the only ones which seek out and inhabit areas of extreme current for feeding and living purposes. Yet the "conventional wisdom" decrees this.

Yearling (9 inch long) native striped bass. Caught by Doug Watts at Negwamkeag, Kennebec River, Sidney, Maine in July, 2000, one year after the Edwards Dam was removed in Augusta in 1999. Negwamkeag is a Kennebec/Abenaki word which refers to large gravel bar islands.

The Problem with "Conventional Wisdoms"

The problem with "conventional wisdoms" in the natural sciences, in this case fisheries science, is they are often based on a lack of evidence and for this reason, are often profoundly wrong. On the Kennebec, modern fisheries biologists have relied exclusively on Charles Atkins' brief, anecdotal statements from the 1860s about the upstream migration limit of striped bass in the Kennebec River system. Because the Kennebec had been impassable to fish above its head of tide in Augusta since 1837, Atkins was forced in 1867 to rely solely on the recollections of "old timers" to gain any information on how far striped bass actually went up the Kennebec and Sebasticook Rivers before they were dammed. Newly acquired direct evidence, in the form of striped bass bones found on the Sebasticook River 50 miles above Winslow, Maine shows Charles Atkins' estimates of striped bass range in the Kennebec were wrong. We now know the range of striped bass in the Kennebec River system is twice as large as Atkins had estimated.

On the Penobscot River, Atkins said little about striped bass. Lacking any historic evidence, modern fisheries biologists themselves erected an arbitrary migration limit on striped bass at the rapids and ledges at Indian Island in Old Town. At this writing, the State of Maine Dept. of Marine Resources is uncertain if it will "allow" native striped bass to move up the Penobscot River past the Milford Dam in Old Town once access is made available with the pending removal of the two mainstem dams below it. This is based on the "conventional wisdom" that striped bass never swam past the Milford Dam site, in spite of direct historical evidence from 1825 which shows they did.

Danny Watts of North Easton, Mass. with a striped bass from the Kennebec River at Bacons Rips, five miles above Augusta, Maine. July, 2003.

David Watts of North Easton, Mass. (Danny's great uncle) and a friend with two striped bass caught on Cape Cod in the 1950s.

References Cited:

Atkins, C. 1867. Maine Fish Commissioners Report in Twelfth Annual Report of the Secretary of the Maine Board of Agriculture. Stevens & Sayward. Augusta, Maine.

Atkins, C. 1869. Report of the Maine Commissioners of Fisheries. Augusta, Maine.

Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. 1995. Amendment No. 5 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass. Fisheries Management Report No. 24 to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. Washington, D.C.

Baxter, James P., editor. 1910. Documentary History of the State of Maine Containing the Baxter Manuscripts. Vols. 1-24. Maine Historical Society. Lefavor-Tower Company. Portland, Maine.

Buck, Rufus. History of the Settlement of Bucksport: 1763 to 1860. Unpublished, handwritten manuscript in Maine historical documents collection at Maine State Library, Augusta, Maine. Rufus Buck born in 1797, died in 1879. Manuscript written in 1860s era.

Dadswell, M.J. 1996. The Removal of Edwards Dam, Kennebec River, Maine. Its Effect on the Restoration of Anadromous Fishes. Prepared for the Kennebec Coalition. Augusta, Maine. March, 1996.

Godfrey, J.E. 1882. The Annals of Bangor, 1769-1882, in History of Penobscot County, Maine. Williams, Chase & Co. Cleveland, Ohio.

Jacques, D. 2005. "Playing in Woods Hole." Wavelength magazine. Gabriola Island, British Columbia, Canada. (pdf here).

Maine Dept. of Marine Resources. 2008. Strategic Restoration Plan for the Penobscot River. Maine Department of Marine Resources. Augusta, Maine.

Scott, W.B., E.J. Crossman. 1973. Freshwater Fishes of Canada. Bulletin 184. Fisheries Research Board of Canada. Ottawa, Canada.

Spiess, A. 2003. Newport Stream Restoration Archaeology Survey and Site 71.30. Maine Historical Preservation Commission. Augusta, Maine. (pdf here.)

Squiers, T. 1988. Anadromous Fisheries in the Kennebec River Estuary. Maine Department of Marine Resources. Augusta, Maine.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. 2009. Letter of Andrew Raddant, Regional Environmental Officer, to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Application of Surrender for Great Works, Veazie and Howland Dam, Penobscot and Piscataquis Rivers, Sept. 2, 2009. USFWS, Boston, Mass.

Watts, D. 2003. Native and Commercial Fisheries of the Penobscot River. Prepared for the Penobscot River Restoration Trust. Augusta, Maine.

Yoder, C., J. Audet, B. Kulik. 2004. Maine Rivers Fish Assemblage Assessment: Interim Report. Midwest Biodiversity Institute. Columbus, Ohio.

Allan E. Watts of North Easton, Mass. night fishing for striped bass in the salt marshes of Haskell's Island, Aucoot Cove, Buzzards Bay, Mattapoisett, Mass. July, 1993.