THE BIG DRAIN!
March went out like a lamb, and the Easter weekend was almost summerlike! So much is happening out in the natural world that it is hard to keep up. Everything is coming sooner than last year. For example, yesterday I heard the first trill of the toads, whereas last year that didn't happen until near the end of April! I've heard that the Spotted Salamanders are migrating, and Flickers are pecking at my lawn! What next? That answer will have to wait while I share the exciting experience of taking part in the draining of the lobster pound. Most of you know that a cove on the north end of the island is stocked with lobsters in the fall, and kept alive by constant surveillance until the market demands these crustaceans at a higher price. Eventually, the dammed up cove is drained and the animals removed....hopefully alive and well. In the picture to the left, Roger, Donny and Mike are picking up lobsters that are caught in netting as the cove is drained. They have been spending the winter in a comatose state, often digging shallow pools in the mud or hiding under rocks. To the right, are two more exposed lobsters that were left high and dry as the water level dropped.
Once the cove is drained, a team of harvesters traipses through the mud and pools of water picking up the lobsters. There are literally hundreds to uncover and discover. I was lucky enough to be a part of the harvest and had a ball picking up these animals. Some had lost their rubber bands so one had to be careful not to get bitten. New bands were placed on the claws since these lobsters will be kept in close quarters for a few days to cleanse and clean themselves. Below, you can see one lobster getting a band replacement. Remember, these animals will eat each other if given a chance. Many had growths of seaweed on their shells which had to be removed. It was a team effort, and for me, a shot in the arm. I get so excited at the marvel and beauty of these animals and their lifestyles.
The lobsters are collected and kept in traps while most of the overwintering lobsters are picked up. Traps will also be set to attract those animals that were not discovered. I know I saw several under rocks too large to move without crushing these precious creatures. In this final picture, you see the cove is pretty much drained. The small float is now standing on the mud, which actually wasn't too deep. We also picked up a few Quahogs that live in the cove, and of course found worms and crabs in the hunting.
So, this spring ritual has ended for this year, and the dam reset so the cove can remain viable for years to come. You may have noticed that on my way down to the lobster pound, I stopped to photograph several deer near the orchard. It has been a good year for deer they say, also due to the milder winter and early spring. These animals are more active, and I read today that there was a car collision with a moose on 295 in Topsham. Moose are also on the loose and need to be watched for. Meanwhile, I will go back to listening for the toads that have started their love songs. I may get a picture of their swollen throats as they trill in ecstasy. Oh the joys of spring! 4/6/10 Ronnie, the lobsterer.