FIConservancy launched its first community marine debris program this summer, and it was a great success. Thank you to all you participated!

The destructive spotted lanternfly: Wings open and wings closed.

Be on the lookout for the colorful but treacherous spotted lanternfly (SLF). Relatively new to the U.S., it is an invasive insect from China that is known to feed on 70 different types of plants and trees. SLF adults emerge in July and are active until the first hard frost.

This insect was first spotted in Pennsylvania in 2014, and by July 2021 had spread to about half of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, eastern Ohio and Indiana.

Closer to home, the the SLF has been found in western Connecticut, parts of New York state, and on Sept. 29, Rhode Island reported a second credible sighting in West Greenwich, RI. This insect usually spreads by hopping rides on vehicles as they move from state to state.

The U.S. Dept of Agriculture has issued a thorough SLF Pest Alert pdf with information about the SLF and what you can do about it. If you see an SLF, take pictures and report it to New York State via its SLF reporting form. Scraping its grey egg masses from trees and man-made outdoor items is vital to slowing its spread. Egg masses can be double bagged and discarded, or placed in alcohol or bleach to kill them.

Indicating the significance of this dangerous pest, FIConservancy posted advance warnings about the SLF in 2018 and 2020.

Thanks for your help.

Bird watchers scan the skies looking for birds to include in the biannual migratory bird count on Fishers Island. Kristen Peterson Photo

Another glorious day on Fishers Island greeted bird watchers who participated in the Fall 2021 Migratory Bird Count, Sun. Sept. 19.

Thirty-nine species were recorded, which is slightly lower than the 45 species sighted in Fall 2019. (See list of bird species below.)

Following Audubon bird count rules, birders made 15 five-minute stops from West End to East End. At each timed stop, birders counted birds and called out what they saw.

Results from bird counts help scientists and conservation organizations chart bird populations and help us get a sense of the numbers of different bird species in our area.

We are fortunate that Fishers Island is on the Atlantic Flyway, a major north-south flyway for migratory birds in North America. Migrating songbirds descend on woods and thickets, along ponds and next to streams, to feed on the insects that fuel their migrations.

University of Delaware team of Emily Baisden and Will Aleida led the bird count and answered questions about migratory birds.

Species sighted in Fall 2021 Migratory Bird Count on Fishers Island:

American Kestrel, Black Crow, Blue Jay, Catbird, Cedar Waxwing, Chickadee, Chipping Sparrow, Cormorant, Connecticut Warbler, Downey Woodpecker, European Starling, Goldfinch, Herrier Hawk, Herring Gulls, House Wren or Marsh Wren, Marsh/Goshawk, Merlin, Mockingbird, Mourning Dove, Nighthawk, Northern Parula, Osprey, Phoebe, Raven, Red Bellied Woodpecker, Red-tailed Hawk, Ring Necked Pheasant, Robin, Ruby Throated Hummingbird, Song Sparrow, Starling, Swainson’s Warbler, Towhee, Tree Sparrow, Tree Swallow, White Breasted Nuthatch, White Egret, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Yellow Throated Chickadee.


Mystic Aquarium’s Animal Rescue Program is offering virtual training to become a First Responder on Fishers Island.

Mystic Aquarium’s Animal Rescue Program is offering virtual training to become a First Responder on Fishers Island. First Responders are called to assist when animals are found in distress on the Island. The deadline for completing certification is October 10.

FIConservancy, working with the Animal Rescue Program, will store supplies on Fishers Island, should they be needed in case an animal is beached or requires transportation to the aquarium for care. (See picture of animal rescue supplies below.)

Sarah Callan, Assistant Manager of Mystic Aquarium’s Animal Rescue Program welcomes potential volunteers:

There is no obligation. Start the process and watch the training video. It’s fine if you decide being a First Responder is not for you. You only become a responder in our system once you complete the quiz and sign up for our Google Classroom (details below).

There is no time commitment. When we receive an animal distress call on our hotline, we search our system for First Responders on Fishers Island. We will start calling our list of responders to see who is available. If you are, great! If you aren’t, no worries. We move on to the next person on our list. If you are available to respond, you will log the hours you volunteer for that day on our online “Better Impact” system.

It’s easy to get started:

First, click here to sign up on Mystic Aquarium’s new volunteer “Better Impact” database page.

Next, click here to view the training video.


The following links will take you to documents that explain the process in further detail:

Guide to becoming a First Responder

Important Dates


First responders are an integral part of our program. We look forward to having you on our team!

Sarah Callan
Assistant Manager, Animal Rescue Program
55 Coogan Boulevard
Mystic, Connecticut 06355
Office: 860-572-5955 x 134
Cell: 860-625-1169
Hotline: 860-572-5955 x 107

FIConservancy, working with the Animal Rescue Program, will store supplies on Fishers Island, should they be needed in case an animal is beached or requires transportation to the aquarium for care. Email FIConservancy’s Stephanie Hall ( with questions, sightings or for assistance.




A live and virtual presentation September 18th by Save the Sound’s New York Natural Areas Coordinator Louise Harrison, co-hosted at the FI Movie Theater by the HLF Museum, the FIConservancy, and the FI Oyster Farm. Followed by a reception for in-person attendees.

Mark your calendars for the 2021 Fall Migratory Bird Count Sunday, Sept. 19, 8 a.m.-10:30 a.m. Meet at the Island Community Center. Bring binoculars.

A mysterious disease began killing songbirds last spring, and despite scientists’ best efforts, they cannot identify the problem, which has abated in some states. 

This giant goldfish was caught July 2 in Minnesota’s Keller Lake, 20 miles south of Minneapolis. Goldfish compete with native species for food, increase algae in lakes and, reportedly, are among the world’s worst invasive aquatic species. City of Burnsville, Minn. Photo

Invasive, football-sized goldfish are turning up in lakes and waterways out-competing native species for food and choking ecosystems with voracious feeding that kicks up mud and sediment, leading to harmful algae blooms.

Officials in Burnsville, Minn. captured nearly 30 giant goldfish, some measuring more than 18 inches and weighing up to 4 pounds in July. “People have unwanted fish in their aquariums, so they dump them into a pond, river or spring,” officials said.

“Released into their favored slow-moving fresh bodies of water, goldfish grow unhampered in ideal conditions not always available in the domesticated goldfish bowl. They adapt to their environment, with unique eating habits and with increased sensitivity in hearing and sight, producing chemicals for temperature regulation.

“These long-lived goldfish are an ecological nightmare. With no natural predators, they transmit disease and parasites as they swim along the bottom of lakes and rivers, uprooting vegetation, disturbing sediment and eating small invertebrates and fish eggs.”

Canadian authorities estimate that as many as 50 million goldfish may inhabit Lake Ontario. The population has exploded in recent years, which has impacted other species,” said Tys Theysmeyer of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton, Ontario. “Populations of frogs, fish, turtles, salamanders are all significantly down.”

Where did it all begin?

Sometime during the Jin Dynasty (265-420 AD), the ancient Chinese observed that some of the freshwater carp they were breeding as food tended to occasionally display mutated colors ranging from red to orange and yellow. A few centuries later, people developed ornamental water gardens, which they stocked with a gold variation of the silver Prussian carp, from which goldfish sprang.

During social gatherings, some of the finer specimens were temporarily showcased in smaller containers—the world’s first fish tanks.

Goldfish invasions start with a disconnect between how people view goldfish and what goldfish are like in the wild. “A cute, cuddly aquarium fish can have quite unexpected, serious biological consequences once introduced into a new environment,” experts say.

Environmental officials have been pleading with fish owners not to dump aquarium fish.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommends putting an unwanted fish up for adoption, donating it to a school or humanely euthanizing it with a veterinarian or a pet store’s assistance. Whatever you do, don’t release it into a pond or lake—and don’t flush it down the toilet. In 2019, a 14-inch goldfish was reportedly caught downstream from a wastewater treatment plant on the Niagara River near Buffalo, N.Y.