This week was exciting because I visited one of my favorite places: Lubec, Maine. Each year we travel here for a field trip with the Three Seas Program. While it is quite a drive; 6.5 hours from Boston, the winding coastal roads, pristine fall scenery and good company make the time fly by.
Despite the novelty of being the first to see the sunrise, it isn’t Lubec’s eastern location that brings us here each year. Lubec is situated on the mouth of the Bay of Fundy, the shores of which are known for having the largest tidal amplitude in the world. Everyday with the rise and fall of the tides, 100 Billion tons of seawater enters and exits the bay, twice! This water creates the highest tides in the world, with an amplitude of 50 feet in some places! For a reference, the tidal amplitude at the MSC in Nahant is usually around 9 feet. For this reason Lubec is an intertidal ecologist’s paradise – so much intertidal to explore!!
We always visit on a week in which there are two low tides a day, one in the morning and one in the evening. That way each class can take the students out for at least one low tide during the relatively short 4 day trip. Since we get up at 6am to work the morning low tides and are usually out in the intertidal until at least 6pm for the evening low tides, mid-day naps are a necessary luxury that we allow ourselves. Usually there is also some extra time for mid-day fun, like hiking along the coastal trails to the arctic bog, where one can view sphagnum moss and carnivorous pitcher plants.
In addition to being a perfect field trip location, Lubec is also one of three regions where the Bracken lab has been maintaining a long-term biodiversity manipulation experiment. So in addition to exposing the Three Seas students to this beautiful place, my lab was also able to get some field work done. With the help of an awesome Three Seas student (thanks Vicky!) we finished all our field work, with an extra tide to spare!
Science aside, my love of Lubec stems from the fact that visiting is a welcome reminder of a time when life was a bit simpler. The single road that leads into the town is sparsely populated with the occasional house and a couple simple and necessary stores: gas, hardware, grocery. At the small grocery store (Lyon’s Food Market – no chain superstores here), neighbors chat about the quiet happenings of the town and no one laments the fact that they can’t go to the mall or the movies – the natural beauty of their small town is all the entertainment they need. Cell reception is pretty dodgy, so instead of trying to force technology into this pristine place, I turn off my cell phone when I cross the town line and enjoy a couple days of unplugged serenity. Feeling overwhelmed by the bustle of the city? Head to Lubec for some coastal nature therapy!