Environment and Outdoors

Environmental news

AUGUSTA, Maine - The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry says autumn color has arrived, even as temperatures linger in the 70s in much of the state.
The state's fall foliage report says fall colors are high in northern Maine this weekend and moderate in the rest of the state. That means there will be 70 percent color in much of the northern region and 30 to 50 percent color change elsewhere.

EASTHAM, Mass. - A tropical bird never before seen in Massachusetts has been rescued from a Cape Cod beach after it was likely blown off course by Hurricane Jose.
Wild Care, a wildlife rehabilitation facility in Eastham, says the masked booby was found Tuesday at a Wellfleet beach.
Wild Care Executive Director Stephanie Ellis tells the Cape Cod Times the bird was thin, weak and experiencing respiratory discomfort likely due to a fungal infection.

The Maine Department of Marine Resources says it’s monitoring a large, unusual phytoplankton bloom that has been observed in the Casco Bay region from Portland northeast to Harpswell.

Department spokesman Jeff Nichols says, while the bloom isn’t a threat to human health, the species, Karenia mikimotoi, can be harmful to finfish, shellfish and other marine organisms. There have been fish kills reported during blooms in Hong Kong, Australia, Ireland, Japan and Alaska.

DMR wants area dealers, aquaculture lease holders and harvesters to be on the lookout for any symptoms.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press

Scientists have been closely watching puffin populations in the Gulf of Maine in recent years, in an effort to restore the species on certain islands. This summer, puffins and other seabird populations appear to have rebounded, but are still facing a threat from predation.

Northern New England isn't letting go of summer.

Temperatures have reached some record highs in the last couple of days, and more may be on the way.

The National Weather Service office in Gray, Maine, says temperatures in most locations were into the 70s and lower 80s by 10 a.m. Monday. This is already 10 to 15 degrees above the normal highs for the day.

Peter Duley / NEFSC/NOAA

PORTLAND, Maine - Researchers with the federal government and the New England Aquarium say they've developed a new model to provide better estimates about the North Atlantic right whale population, and the news isn't good.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the model could be critically important to saving the endangered species, which is in the midst of a year of high mortality. The agency says the analysis shows the probability the population has declined since 2010 is nearly 100 percent.

MYSTIC, Conn. - Three seal pups that were apparently abandoned by their parents after birth have been released into the waters off Rhode Island.

Tropical storm Jose remains stuck off the coast of Cape Cod, and according to weather experts, doesn’t appear to be in a hurry to move.

While it’s far enough away for Maine to avoid lots of rainfall, the coast will still feel its effects with unusually high surf.

“These are what we call long period swells,” says Meteorologist Tom Hawley with the National Weather Service. “They’re 5-10 footers, probably 12-15 seconds between waves.”

Hawley says as tempting as it may be to go stand at the shore to watch the waves, doing so could be very dangerous.

The Department of Marine Resources says that a shellfish recall implemented last week has resulted in about 98 percent of the product in being surrendered.

According to the department, about 57,000 out of 58,000 pounds of mussels harvested from Frenchman Bay were destroyed this week. The shellfish tested positive for higher than allowable levels of the neurotoxin that causes amnesic shellfish poisoning.

Some 1,100 pounds of the mussels are unaccounted for.

PORTLAND, Maine -Maine is among seven states where the federal government is funding a research project to try to better understand harmful algal blooms.
Harmful algal blooms can contaminate drinking water and have negative effects on the environment, wildlife and tourism. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is providing nearly $1.7 million for research projects about the blooms in Alaska, California, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Ohio and Virginia.

Harvard Forest

A new wave of forest loss is underway in New England, at a rate of 65 acres a day. That's the conclusion of a new regionwide study spearheaded by a Harvard University forest research group. And the authors say New England could lose more than a million acres of forest cover over the next half-century.

Rogier Klappe / via Wikimedia Commons

FALMOUTH, Maine - More than 100 bird watchers have traveled to Maine to catch the rare sight of a South American fork-tailed flycatcher.
The Portland Press Herald reports that the bird known for its black-and-white plumage and long, forked tail came to the Gilsland Farm Audubon Center in Falmouth on Saturday.
Maine Audubon Naturalist Doug Hitchcox says the bird was last seen in the state in June 2012. He says the bird would normally be flying south at this time instead of north to Maine.

Report: New England Losing 65 Acres Of Forestland Per Day

Sep 19, 2017

BOSTON - New England has been losing forestland to development at a rate of 65 acres per day - a loss that comes at a time when public funding for preservation of open land has also been on the decline.
That's the conclusion of a report released Tuesday by the Harvard Forest, a research institute of Harvard University.
The study found public funding for land conservation in New England dropped by half between 2008 and 2014 to $62 million per year, slightly lower than 2004 levels.

ORONO, Maine - The National Science Foundation is giving $100,000 to help with a University of Maine citizen science project geared at protecting the water quality of lakes.
The project began in 2015. The university says the grant will help extend it into next year and beyond.
UMaine says Maine lakes contribute about $4 billion to the state's economy through recreational and other uses. They are also experiencing a decline in water quality.

Jose Could Bring Strong Seas To Coastal Maine

Sep 19, 2017

A hurricane headed up the East Coast could cause high surf and minor flooding once it hits Maine late Tuesday, officials warned.

Jose is expected to be downgraded to a tropical storm and to curl eastward away from the East Coast later this week, but it could damage property along the shore, according to the National Weather Service.