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Island Science

Sundial at Maria Mitchell Association | Nantucket

What Is This? A Sundial!

~ by Katherine Brooks, Maria Mitchell Association ~ Sundial or Sun d’Isle, as so cleverly named and crafted by Robert A. diCurcio (Bob), was designed as a piece of functional art and commissioned for the Maria Mitchell Association in 1989. The sundial is designed based on the latitude (41 degrees, …

Maria Mitchell Association | Nantucket, MA

What Is This? – Wood Fern

The Maria Mitchell Association (MMA) biological collections’ oldest specimen is the Wood Fern (pictured above). Maria Louisa Owen, an expert in mosses and moss-like plants, collected this fern in 1879. This was during the height of “Pteridomania” – also known as the Victo- rian fern craze – which was sweeping …

Barn Owls, Nantucket, MA

What Is This? – Barn Owls

~ by Katherine Brooks Maria Mitchell Association ~ Have you heard a piercing shriek in the night accompanied by a flurry of white light? Although it sounds like the making of a summercamp ghost story, what you might be observing is the barn owl – unique in its aesthetics with …

Cicada Mania

~ by Dr. Sarah D. Oktay, Director, University of Massachusetts Nantucket Field Station ~ I was sifting through a bunch of rainfall data trying to wrap my writing around the topic of drought, when the buzz of a cicada reminded me of one of my favorite sounds of the summer. …

Nantucket BioDiversity Initiative

Nantucket Nature Year in Review – 2014

• by Dr. Sarah Oktay, Director, University of Massachusetts Nantucket Field Station • 2014 has been an interesting and eventful year for the world of Nantucket nature. Winter Storms on Nantucket In March we had a serious winter storm similar to the doozies we endured in February and March of …

Name that Lobster | Maria Mitchell Association | Nantucket | MA

Creative Thinkers Needed for Naming

In continuation of their family-friendly tradition, Maria Mitchell Association (MMA) recently announced their annual naming contest. Last year, a pair of seahorses had the honor of being named (Hide and Seek) by an 8-year-old MMA patron. For this season, the MMA brings to the stage two very different critters: a …

Winter Weather

• by Dr. Sarah D. Oktay, Managing Director UMass Boston Nantucket Field Station • I am writing this article on an unseasonably warm Sunday in November. According to Weather Underground (http://www.wunderground.com ) which is usually my go-to source for weather data the maximum temperature was 57 degrees Fahrenheit on Nantucket …

American Eel

As American as … the American Eel

As we finish celebrating our country’s birth as a nation, everyone is in a patriotic mood and what could be more patriotic than, the American Eel. Okay, I am sure you can think of something more patriotic, but this is a nature column. We have an adorable baby eel swimming …

Orcas: Too Big to Hold

• by Dr. Sarah D. Oktay, Managing Director UMass Boston Nantucket Field Station • I just got back from the Nantucket Film Festival’s (NFF) showing of “Blackfish”, an excellent and provocative documentary describing in excruciating detail the many issues of keeping Killer Whales (Orcinus orca) in captivity. The majority of …