maine's loon productivty project

Introduction

On the afternoon of Sunday, April 27, 2003, just south of Westport, Mass., an oil tanker operated by the Bouchard Transportation Company passed on the wrong side of a navigational marker and struck rocks underwater, gouging a 12-foot hole in its hull. In the hours that followed, 98,000 gallons of heavy #6 fuel flowed into Buzzards Bay.

The damage to natural resources was extensive and far reaching. Oil washed up along 100 miles of beaches, rocky shoreline, marshes and tidal flats. Shellfish, migratory birds, marine mammals, fish and invertebrates died directly because of the spill, with longer-term damage to their habitat and to water quality affecting survival for decades to come. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) estimated that 531 Common Loons over-wintering or migrating through the area of the spill died as a result of the spill.

Project Funding & goals

Since loons that breed in Maine are known to winter offshore along the New England coast, many suspected some of the of the dead loons were from Maine’s breeding population. This was confirmed when oiled loons were discovered in Maine following the spill. More than 18 years later, a project funded by the responsible party will finally attempt to recover the “loon years lost” from Maine’s breeding population of Common Loons.

Goals of the Project: The project seeks to increase the number of chicks on Maine’s lakes and ponds, and decrease the number of deaths and disruptions. To do that, the partners will:

  • Increase loon productivity by engaging volunteers to place, monitor, and maintain loon nesting rafts where loons have not been successful producing chicks in recent years;
  • Conduct outreach and exchange programs that reduce the use of lead tackle;
  • Engage volunteers in outreach to lake users and in direct nest protection efforts that reduce disturbance to nesting loons and lethal collisions between boats and loon families.

Who is Involved with this Project: Maine Audubon leads the effort, with help from Maine Lakes, Lakes Environmental Association and the Penobscot Nation. Biodiversity Research Institute is also working on raft projects in northern and downeast Maine.

Get Involved!

  • Read more about the project at Maine Audubon.
  • Watch a webinar from Feb. 2, 2022 with two of the project leaders, Tracy Hart and Susan Gallo, presenting background information on the project, how it was funded and what the plans are for the next five years.
  • Read the lead article about the project in the Maine Lakes fall issue of For the Sake of Our Lakes
  • Take a look at the candidate list of lakes that have been identified as having low productivity over the last five years.
    • If your lake is on the list, get in touch with one of the contacts below to further vet the lake for its potential to host a new or improved raft.
    • If your lake is not on the list, but you know that loons have routinely failed to successfully nest over the last five years, get in touch with one of the contacts below to share your additional information and see if the lake has the potential for an artificial raft.

Learn more about the details of raft building from a previously recorded webinar, just click here.

Thank you for your interest in this project! If you have a group on a lake where a raft looks like it will help loon productivity, the project will provide extensive training about building and monitoring loon rafts, supply all the materials you need to launch a raft on your lake, and support your group along the way! We look forward to hearing from you and including you in this exciting project!

Thank you for your interest in this project!

If you have a group on a lake where a raft looks like it will help loon productivity, the project will provide extensive training about building and monitoring loon rafts, supply all the materials you need to launch a raft on your lake, and support your group along the way! We look forward to hearing from you and including you in this exciting project!

For more information, please contact:

If you are in the Lakes Environmental Association service area (Greater Bridgton):