View of rainbow above Stony Beach taken from the Hay Harbor sailing dock.

Tern stops on a rock, with Stony Beach as a backdrop. Marc was on a paddle board, when he captured this image with a GoPro.

Marc used his GoPro for the above and below underwater shots of eelgrass in the Hay Harbor channel.

Snapping turtle at Hay Harbor Club golf course.

 

 

Very First Sentinel:
Justine Kibbe, 1965 Silver Eel Cove, Fishers Island
Island Sentinels
Island Sentinels

Betsy Conger

Betsy Conger, 16, is a junior at Fishers Island School, which she has attended since sixth grade. She lives in Stonington, Conn. and takes the ferry to school each day. Her older sister, Olivia Backhaus, who was also a Fishers Island School student and an Island Sentinel for 5 years, first introduced Betsy to environmental work on the Island.

Betsy’s environmental studies began in her school science classes. After several class field trips, she was intrigued by the Island’s beauty and wanted to become an Island Sentinel to learn more about environmental work taking place here. As lead Island Sentinel, Betsy helps to monitor sites with the other Island Sentinels. She also collects data sheets and inputs all data into the computer. Serving as an Island Sentinel has given her a greater appreciation of the Island’s ever-changing ecosystem and other factors that are so critical to the long-term health of the Island.

Gardner Thors

Gardner Thors, 17, lives in New York City and is a sophomore at Groton School in Massachusetts. He has been a Sentinel for four years, after first volunteering for one summer. As a city kid, he doesn’t get to experience nature and wildlife except for the landscaped Central Park and the infamous pigeons and squirrels of the city. Fishers Island is his wildlife sanctuary. Gardner has been summering here for as long as he can remember, and Fishers holds a special place in his heart. That is why he chose to play a part in the preservation of this environment. Gardner looks forward to learning more about the Island’s ecosystems and sharing what he learns with the Island community. His brother, Wilson, is also a passionate Sentinel.

Wilson Thors

Wilson Thors lives in New York City and is a sophomore at Groton School in Massachusetts. 2018 was his second summer as a Sentinel, and he volunteered to monitor for FIConservancy before becoming a Sentinel. He joined the Sentinel program, because he was curious about his brother’s experiences as a Sentinel. Wilson has always appreciated the natural beauty of Fishers Island, but now he has a deeper love of the Island since learning more about animals and learning that we share this great place with the wildlife.

 

sentinel

Marc Rosenberg

Marc Rosenberg, 14, lives in New York City and is a freshman at Bronx High School of Science. 2018 was his “volunteer” year and first summer as a Sentinel. He joined the Sentinel program because he was interested in sea life and wildlife on Fishers Island.

Marc’s interest in sea life was sparked when he vacationed in Greece and observed the multitude of fish through his goggles. After this experience, Marc became increasingly curious about wildlife on and around Fishers Island. Even though Marc learned much this summer, he hopes that next year he will better his understanding of Fishers Island and continue to be a help to the Sentinels. He also hopes to convince his sister to become a Sentinel!

snorkeling

Marc Rosenberg Snorkeling

Marc enjoys spending time under water and made a video of seagrass off the coast of Fishers Island. See Marc’s video.

dolphins

Max Soper shot this video of a few pods of dolphins Aug. 4, 2018 in Fishers Island Sound, with Hay Harbor in the background, and shared his exciting observation with FIConservancy. Island Sentinel Gardner Thors was also aboard to confirm sighting.

Although locally reported sightings are relatively rare, common dolphins have been seen in Long Island Sound with increasing regularity since 2009. Observers say they are venturing farther north for big schools of prey fish: Silver-and-yellow Atlantic menhaden (often called “bunker”) form schools by the thousands and are a favorite target for dolphin, porpoise and humpback whales.

Dolphins typically swim 2-4 mph but can reach speeds of 20 mph for brief periods. Coastal dolphins typically do not hold their breath for more than five minutes, which makes for good viewing.

Island Sentinels
Island Sentinels

(l-r) 2018 Island Sentinels Marc Rosenberg, Betsy Conger and Gardner Thors at “Conservation on Parade”.

Island Sentinels lend their support to “Conservation on Parade” Aug. 11, 2018 at the Parade Grounds. Some 200 people attended the afternoon event, which featured four different stations highlighting plants, birds, bugs, live animals, and the dangers of marine debris.

The “free ice cream” truck was a popular draw at the Marine Debris station!

starfish
starfish

Asterias forbesi. Marc Rosenberg (Island Sentinel) Photo

This starfish, commonly known at the Forbes sea star, was spotted Aug. 10, 2018 at the sailing dock, Hay Harbor, Fishers Island, N.Y. Great observation, as the common species, once abundant within our Island’s surrounding waters, is now in a steep decline. Marc and Island Sentinel Betsy Conger also noted a local 3.5-ft. sand shark in area waters.

Seagrass

This August, Island Sentinels assist me in monitoring Hay Harbor.
Here, Marc Rosenberg documents scarring within seagrass beds.

This stewardship helps to further support & establish a Fishers Island Seagrass Management Coalition along with Henry L. Ferguson Museum and The Nature Conservancy, Long Island.

Way to go Sentinels!”

 

Video Snippet, From the Field, Justine Kibbe, Aug. 10, 2018

Olivia Backhaus

Olivia Backhaus, 21, lives in Stonington, CT. She first came to Fishers Island School in seventh grade and graduated in 2014. 2017 was her fifth summer working as a Sentinel for FIConservancy. Her interest in biology was sparked by the experiential nature of the science curriculum at FI School, which used the Island as a living laboratory for learning biology.

Olivia assumed a leadership position in 2016, training and overseeing members of the Sentinel team and assisting with other FIConservancy programs, such as Nature Days. She also spent the summer collating and analyzing daily data collected by the Sentinels and by Justine. Working as a Sentinel has inspired Olivia to major in Biology and minor in Environmental Studies at Sewanee: The University of the South. In the future, she plans to practice environmental law.

Gardner Thors

Gardner Thors, 15, lives in New York City and is a sophomore at Groton School in Massachusetts. He has been a Sentinel for three years, after first volunteering for one summer. As a city kid, he doesn’t get to experience nature and wildlife except for the landscaped Central Park and the infamous pigeons and squirrels of the city. Fishers Island is his wildlife sanctuary. Gardner has been summering here for as long as he can remember, and Fishers holds a special place in his heart. That is why he chose to play a part in the preservation of this environment. Gardner looks forward to learning more about the Island’s ecosystems and sharing what he learns with the Island community. His brother, Wilson, is also a passionate Sentinel.

Wilson Thors

Wilson Thors lives in New York City and is a freshman at Groton School in Massachusetts. 2017 was his first summer as a Sentinel, although he volunteered to monitor for FIConservancy last year. He joined the Sentinel program, because he was curious about his brother’s experiences as a Sentinel. Wilson has always appreciated the natural beauty of Fishers Island, but now he has a deeper love of the Island since learning more about animals and learning that we share this great place with the wildlife.

Kain Upson

Kain Upson grew up summering on Fishers Island, surrounded by the wildlife he now has the privilege of monitoring. 2017 was his first summer as an Island Sentinel. His special interest in biology, and eventually environmental biology, began during his senior year in high school, when a “fantastic” biology teacher was able to steer him in the right scientific direction. He is looking forward to sharing many more summers with the returning migratory and resident animals, who call Fishers Island home.

Conner Wakeman

Conor Wakeman

Conor Wakeman, 19, of Greenwich, Conn., grew up summering on Fishers Island and is a sophomore at University of Pennsylvania studying economics. Conor spent three years as an Island Sentinel and was an emeritus Sentinel in 2017. After seeing an article about Justine Kibbe’s conservation efforts on the Island, he decided to use his love for the environment and wildlife science to help improve the ecological wellbeing of Fishers Island.

Since he loves spending time with nature and watching animals, Conor thought it was a great opportunity to collect data that would help understand this unique environment. During his time as a Sentinel, he worked on improving the efficiency of data collection and helped facilitate research about organizations such as Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. With his expanding knowledge of the local ecosystem and shifting animal populations, he hopes to raise awareness of FIConservancy and help preserve the Island’s pristine environment.

erik blomquist

My name is Erik Blomquist, and I have been fortunate enough to call Fishers Island a second home my entire life. Since I was little, I have come to the island to visit my grandparents and experience the unique little world that is Fishers Island. It was at a young age that I began finding undeniable interest in the natural world, always being told by my grandpa, John Ski, to “observe nature”.

For the past seven years, I have spent summers on Fishers working various jobs. Last summer, I worked as an intern for the Fishers Island Conservancy doing basic invasive plant species removal, mostly throughout the Parade Grounds. I worked alongside Adam Mitchell and Joe Henderson, helping to make progress in the projects they envisioned for that specific area.

After making only a tiny dent in overall removal goals for the Parade Grounds, I began thinking of ways to ramp up removal of these invasive species. Down a somewhat unexpected avenue, I found the means to further the progress in the battle against invasives.

During the off-season, I was given a spot on the Island Sentinels team. Justine Kibbe gave me the opportunity to create my own project to add to the Island Sentinels program. My project is still developing into a monitoring site that will encompass a portion of the Parade Grounds, from Airport Road east towards the movie theater, all along the Fort stretch. It will be a monitoring site, where we can observe and record invasive plant species.

Monitoring will be ongoing over the summers so we can gain awareness of how quickly and aggressively these species are taking over the area. My goal is that by recording the location and density of these invasive plant species, we can formulate an appropriate removal and restoration plan. The end result is to eventually see a healthier Parade Grounds habitat.