Gossamer Tapestry

Reflections on conservation, butterflies, and ecology in the nation's heartland

Monday, June 15, 2009

Acadia National Park (a post in which I briefly pretend to be one of the ocean science bloggers)

Penobscot Bay seen from the summit of Cadillac Mountain

After departing Colby, and before heading south to New Hampshire and Massachusetts, Leon and I headed over for a couple of days on the coast of Maine. We got to Acadia on Sunday afternoon and headed over to a hike called Wonderland that led through the woods to the ocean.

Rhodora (Rhododendron canadense)

Three-toothed Cinquefoil (Potentilla tridentata)

I really enjoyed getting to see the flora of northern New England. In low spots the last of the rhodora was still in bloom. I can recall seeing pink drifts of it in the woods along Route 95 when I would drive home from college for the summer. Acadia has a huge populattion of three-toothed cinquefoil. This plant grows in rocky areas, either on mountain tops or right along the coast. I have seen in in Manchester before, however it's quite rare as far south as coastal Massachusetts.

Sponge? Tunicate? Something else?

At the shore, we admired the view and poked around in tide pools. There were lots of snails and limpets, and a really cool green creature. I'm not sure whether it's a sponge or a tunicate. If it's the latter, I'm reluctant to even call it an invertebrate. Perhaps one of my marine bio friends can help me out here. Rick? Jim? Kevin?

Pitch pine (Pinus rigida) on the summit of Dorr Mountain

Monday morning, we drove up Cadillac Mountain and hiked a half mile over to the summit of nearby Dorr Mountain. Lots of rock scrambling was involved, and I regretted not changing into my sneakers. The summit of Dorr Mountain is dotted with stunted pitch pines. There just isn't enough soil here for the trees to establish any height.

Tiny robberfly

Brown Elfin (Callophrys augustinus)

The weather was beautiful, so we saw lots of insects. I was excited to see a tiny brown elfin butterfly. I've only ever seen that species once before.

Surf at Thunder Hole

After lunch we drove the loop road for more tide pool exploration. The tide was not quite right for good wave action at at Thunder Hole, but we did get to see a Black Guillemot jst off shore.

Black Guillemot (Cepphus grylle)

Further down the road, we found more invertebrates in the tide pools, including some really cool anemones.

Anemones in tide pool

Smaller anemone with mussel

Stripey snails

This would be our last day of nice weather until Saturday. It was hard to leave the beauty of Maine, but the difficulty was made easier by knowing that our next stop would be with Will and Fritz.

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At 09:36, Blogger Dave Coulter said...

Wow. I remember visiting my grandparents up there when I was a kid. Have always wanted to go back someday!

At 10:37, Blogger Kirk said...

Nice photos of Acadia. I just collected a brown elfin last week.

At 19:21, Blogger LA said...

Oh oh oh! I love stealing people's thunder... that green thing is not a tunicate, I'm pretty sure it's a sponge. And there's nothing wrong with calling tunicates invertebrates. They're chordates, but since they don't have a vertebral column, they're firmly in the invertebrate camp.

I have absolutely no clue what species it is, or even what group it's in though.

At 23:48, Blogger Jim Lemire said...

I'm with LA - looks like it might be a breadcrumb sponge - Halichondria sp. (probably panicea)

At 02:50, Blogger Marvin said...

Not a bad job of pretending. Enjoyed the photos, especially the rocky coastline.

At 06:00, Blogger Lemuel said...


Did you get to Pretty Marsh? Scoobic (sp?) Penninsula?

There no other place where heaven meets earth than finding a remote stretch of rocky shore, sitting on the rocks with the reach of the splash of the surf on the rocks, and marvelling at the wonder and beauty of the world around you!

When I die, my dream is to have my ashes scattered there. (Probably can't happen.)

Thanks for the pictoral reminder of this wondrous place!

At 09:40, Blogger Ur-spo said...

I do not know the flora and fauna of NE.
I think at some level there isn't any, what with 400 years of people being there - it is all gone.

At 14:38, Blogger Up Welng said...

not bad ocean blogging for a prairie butterfly-boy!

i concur, the green sponge appears to be halichondria panicea (bread crumb sponge)... in high surf areas, the sponge grows as a thin mat, but in protected caves and tidepools the sponge can form more thickened masses...

the snails below the green sponge are common periwinkles (littorina littorea)... the brownish algae here and there around the green sponge appear to be chondrus crispus (irish moss), actually a red algae...

there's also some pink, branching coralline algae (corallina officianalis) below the sponge, as well as what appears to be pink crustose coralline algae (phymatolython sp) covering bare rock surface...

the "stripey snails" (still giggling) appear to be a dog whelk (thais lapillus when i learned it's name, but has also appeared recently in the literature as nucella lapillus...)

the white "bumps" on the rock surrounding the dog whels appear to be common rock barnacles (balanus balanoides(?))...

your mussels are blue mussels (mytilus edulis)... in the image of the mussel, there's a perfect hole in one of the valves... that's the calling card of a predatory dog whelk which drilled through the shell to feed on the mussel...

i dunno what anemones you have in the images, but in the image of the anemone and the mussel, the blood-red stain on the rock surface is another crustose coralline algae (hildenbrandia sp)...

there's also a limpet in the image of the anemone cluster, (acmaea ??)...

very jealous of your trip to acadia!

i hope you tried lobster ice cream in bar harbor!

At 14:46, Blogger Jim Lemire said...

Rick - Nicely done (you big show-off)

At 15:09, Blogger Up Welng said...

Jim: blame it on gould, villalard, doty, and holstein... they filled my head with all that stuff and it just won't go away!

At 09:17, Blogger robin andrea said...

Really nice photos of Acadia, doug. It's been a long time since I've been back east. I had forgotten how beautiful Maine is.

At 11:43, Blogger Doug Taron said...

Dave- It's worth a visit. It's been over ten years since I have been up there.

Kirk- Thanks. It wa sbeing very uncooperative. The other place I've seen brown elfin is Mt. Chocorua in NH- not unreasonably far from you.

LA- Welcome to the Tapestry. Thanks for dropping by. I appreciate the ID (later confirmed by others, see below your comment)

Jim- Thank you kindly. P.S. no hentzii seen on Saturday.

Marvin- Thanks. The New England coast is a favorite spot of mine.

Lem- Glad you enjoyed. I was near pretty marsh, though wee did not venture out that way. As it was, we tried to cram too much into this trip.

UrSpo- Your comment will get it's own post at some point. It's an interesting observation and deserves more than just a passing comment.

Rick- I knew you'd come through for me. I did know a few of the additional species that you pointed out (common periwinkle, Irish moss, blue mussels) and really appreciated such a complete filling in of the species. I see that red stain on the rock in lots of tidepools that I visit. I would have thought it was an alga and would never have guessed it to be a coralline alga. Too cool!

Robin- I agree, Maine is incredible. Hard to believe that I got to spend 4 years there.

At 22:45, Blogger Will said...

It's been years since I've been to Acadia; thank you for the photos so vivid that they brought it all back to me in a most enjoyable way.

At 07:06, Blogger cedrorum said...

I guess I need to stop at Acadia when we make our first foray that way. Every time I see pictures from the northeast I want to go. Your posting pictures and writing about the tide pools makes me realize how much I miss them. We have none on the coast that we live on that I know of.

At 15:50, Blogger Kathie Brown said...

Doug, Gus and I spent our honeymoon on Acadia. I didn't even think of bird watching then! Your photos make me want to go back! How exciting it must have ben to see that brown elfin butterfly. I know how excited I get when I see a rare bird. I would love to see a guillemot!

At 19:35, Blogger Fresh Kiki said...


At 08:55, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lovely! I must make it up there someday...

At 14:02, Anonymous Lots in Costa Rica said...

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