1. Osprey Cam: FIConservancy’s first grant provided the Henry L. Ferguson Museum $5,000 in support of its Osprey Cam and website project. As a result, interested osprey enthusiasts gained the ability to view the nesting activities of ospreys on Fishers Island by visiting the Museum’s website.
2. Justine Kibbe, FIConservancy Naturalist: The Conservancy funded Justine’s first six months of work under a grant. Justine monitored a wide range of sites, collecting data, documenting and reporting on her findings with notes and photographs. She began authoring Field Notes on the Conservancy’s website, in an effort to engage our membership with the state of the Island’s natural communities.
1. Fishers Island Cemetery Committee: The Cemetery Committee requested support for its hurricane recovery effort, which involved cleanup, removal and replacement of damaged and dying trees on the three Island cemeteries. The effort had an overall budget of $24,579. The Conservancy provided $6,600 in funding for replacement trees, which were native trees chosen from a list generated in consultation with Penni Sharp and Edward Richardson, president of the Connecticut Botanical Society.
2. Justine Kibbe, Island Naturalist: The Conservancy funded Justine’s second half-year of work under a grant. Justine continued her monitoring and data collection, and continued with her very popular Field Notes.
3. Island Sentinels: With support from former Island Community Center Director Elizabeth Reid, Justine developed a pilot environmental stewardship program for Island high school students, funded with a $4,400 grant from the Conservancy. The purpose is to teach students to conduct environmental surveys of the Island by monitoring key sites. Justine started the program with two FI School students, chosen in collaboration with Carol Giles, FI School science/marine biology teacher, and Karen Goodwin, FI School principal. The New England Science and Sailing program, in Stonington, was to be a resource for Justine and provide a model for the stewardship program. Justine trained the students, called Island Sentinels, in late June. During the months of July and August, Justine worked with the students, 10 hours each week, as they monitored key sites and worked to organize and present their collected data.
4. Mike Bottini/Group for the East End: The Conservancy provided $3,450 to Mike Bottini and a team of three other wildlife biologists to conduct a survey to determine the presence of established river otter territories on Fishers Island. The results of the survey indicated that the archipelago of which Fishers is a part, acts as an important wildlife corridor linking New England and Long Island. The broader significance of this research bears on whether Fishers may be an important conduit for the river otter and the beaver to recolonize Long Island. These two mammals declined significantly due to the fur trade but are important components of the ecosystem. The research also relates to the study of a number of other rebounding mammals in New England and the emergence of the eastern coyote. The biologists’ research expertise includes salamanders, spotted and box turtles, ghost crabs, oysters, invasive plants, osprey, belted kingfisher, American oystercatcher and striped skunk. Three biologists monitor piping plovers. In addition to their research, the biologists a) presented a program on otters at the FI School during their research visit in collaboration with Carol Giles, b) established an ongoing relationship with Justine Kibbe, and c) returned to the Island in July to provide educational programming to FI residents regarding the research and the broader implications for wildlife on Fishers Island.
Justine Kibbe’s position as FIConservancy naturalist, and the Island Sentinels program were no longer funded as grants, but as Conservancy programs. This marked a great success for both initiatives.
Biorock Reef: FIConservancy provided $12,000 in funding to FI School and its partner, EccoSolutions, in support of an ongoing pilot project to use geodesic domes to construct a biorock reef, providing an opportunity for hands-on research by FI School students. Beginning in the fall of 2014, students and faculty worked with EccoSolutions on the initial phases of the project. In 2016, the school began working with Dr. Thomas Goreau on the project, and together they decided to move the domes to a different location. The project uses solar energy to provide a low level of current to the domes to help encourage deposition on the domes. The school’s oceanology class built and programmed an ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) that can take live and still photos underwater. Students continue to monitor and document the deposition, as well as the impact on oyster growth.
2016 Season Results:
Two electrified domes and one unelectrified control dome were installed, along with four solar panels capable of generating 22V on an open circuit. Oceanology students counted, massed and measured the length and width of 200 oysters. The oysters, generously donated by Steve and Sarah Malinowski, were divided equally into four groups and were exposed to varying amounts of voltage depending on their distance from the domes. Calcium carbonate deposition and oyster growth was measured from May to October. Students submitted their research and data to the Connecticut State Science Fair March 2017. They received 3rd Honors for their work. (3rd Honors is the minimum acknowledgement by the State). Students also submitted their research to the 2017 Long Island Youth Summit, “The Future of Long Island: Economy, Environment and Diversity”. Students were selected as finalists and invited to attend a summit that discussed solutions to protect Long Island Sound. The oysters resided in Silver Eel Cove for the winter.
March 2017 update:
Students massed and measured oysters and returned them to their designated voltage areas for another season of growth. Students continue to measure calcium carbonate deposition and oyster growth.
Justine Kibbe, Atukan Akun. FIConservancy funded an afterschool program, developed by Justine, for 3rd and 4th graders at FI School.
Justine Kibbe, Atukan Akun. FIConservancy funded a second six-month afterschool program for 3rd and 4th graders at FI School.
Fishers Island School: FIConservancy provided a grant to Fishers Island School to purchase a fluorometer, which measures phytoplankton population density.
Quantifying seasonal changes in density will spark student discussion of how environmental factors such as temperature, fertilizer runoff and light intensity affect growth. This, in turn, will engage student learning and awaken their concern for the environment.