A Trip to the Shoals for a Site Visit

09/11/2015 Posted by Peter Langley

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The Isles of Shoals is one of the gems of the New Hampshire seacoast. A trip out to the shoals is a welcome escape from the usual demands of our mainland lives.  For the Fuller Foundation’s annual site visitation day, a group of Fuller Foundation Trustees and guests including Mindy Bocko, Lisa Bottomley, Peter Langley, Corey MacDonald, Jim Munton, Tish Munton, andSandy Scagliotti headed out for a visit to Appledore Island and the Shoals Marine Labratory.

The day started early, with the group gathering at Rye Harbor for the trip out on the John B. Heiser.


 Because the Shoals Marine lab is a joint venture between the University of New Hampshire and Cornell University,  several staff members from the University of New Hampshire joined us for the trip.  The ride was swift and smooth, and included a very brief whale sighting.

After arriving at Appledore Island, we were greeted by our tour guide, Jim Coyer.  Coyer, the supervisor of Appledore Island’s program staff, has a wealth of knowledge about the history and operation of the island.

Shortly after our arrival, Coyer treated the group to a history lesson. He shared many stories from the island’s colorful past. We learned about the life and times of former Shoals residents and business associates including Captain Samuel Haley, Thomas Laighton, and Levi and Celia Thaxter.   Coyer also shared old photos of the beautiful Appledore Hotel, once a luxurious vacation spot known for its healing island air.  We also learned of the trading of the famed Dun Fish, a cod fish dried and preserved on Appledore Island that set the price of fish around the area.

After our history lesson, we toured more of the island’s buildings and sites.  We also saw the education programs in action. The laboratory is one of the few field marine labs in the United States that caters to college undergraduates.  The 12-15 classes offered in the summer months provide students the opportunity to live and study in a natural marine environment, with a wealth of research and educational opportunities.

In addition to the abundant opportunities for field research, students at the Shoals Marine lab experience the importance of marine conservation first hand.  The staff and students must carefully conserve the island’s scarce resources. Because of these efforts, the reliance on supplies shipped from the mainland has been greatly reduced.

To further reduce the impact on the marine environment, the Shoals lab makes use of advanced composting toilets. These toilets ensure that human waste is disposed of  in an environmentally friendly manner. In addition, an expanding solar array greatly reduces the reliance on fossil fuels and greatly reduces expenses.

As any time on Appledore would be incomplete without a look at Celia Thaxter’s garden, we walked through the famed gardens towards the end of our stay.

Although the entire day was fantastic, one of the highlights was speaking to the lab’s students and interns over lunch.  The enthusiasm of the students and their clear appreciation for the unique educational opportunities at the Shoals Marine Laboratory was readily apparent. The passion with which our lunch companions spoke about programs helping to rescue entangled marine mammals, restore bird populations, and examine migration patterns, was quite a testament to what is obviously a life changing experience for many of the students.

All-in-all we had a great day at a unique educational center.  For more information on programs at the Shoals Marine Laboratory, and how you can help, please visit http://www.sml.cornell.edu/.


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