Environment and Outdoors

Environmental news

Abukar Adan / Maine Public

PORTLAND, Maine — An exhibit that participants can really sink their teeth into has come to town.

The Portland Science Center recently opened its doors to “Planet Shark: Predator or Prey,” which traces the evolution of sharks and highlights their significance in the ecosystem.

Joe Gold, who heads the Portland Science Center, says he’s pleased to bring the exhibition all the way from Australia. He says people are generally enamored with sharks and this topic is both exciting and timely.

Courtesy Maine Audubon

SCARBOROUGH, Maine - Maine wildlife biologists say conservation programs and state partnerships helped more than 100 piping plover chicks fledge in the state last year.
The piping plover is a shorebird that is on the state endangered species list and is listed as threatened at the federal level. The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife says southern Maine beaches hosted 64 nesting pairs last year and 102 chicks fledged.

COLUMBIA, Maine - Two Maine game wardens and two hunters have come to the aid of a moose that was trapped in a muddy spring.
WGME-TV reports two hunters were searching for deer antlers in a cedar swamp in Columbia last week when they discovered the moose. Authorities say the female moose was stuck up to her neck in the spring hole and couldn't move her legs.

Project Aims to Keep Maine Tribe’s Land from Washing Away

Feb 3, 2018
Bridget Brown / Bangor Daily News

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposes to spend $3 million next year to save Passamaquoddy Tribe land in Down East Maine from shoreline erosion.

Scientists say last year was one of the coolest this decade in the Gulf of Maine, but the temperature in the body of water is continuing to trend upward.

The Gulf of Maine is a piece of ocean that touches Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Canada. Scientists have said it is warming faster than most of the world's oceans.

The Gulf of Maine Research Institute says the average sea surface temperature in the gulf was the lowest since 2011 last year. But the Bangor Daily News reports last year's temperatures were still above normal for the gulf.

Feds Investigating High Number Of Minke Whale Deaths On East Coast

Feb 1, 2018
Bill Trotter / Bangor Daily News/file

An unusually high number of dead minke whales reported along the East Coast in the past year has prompted federal officials to launch an investigation into what’s killing the protected animals.

Northeast fishing managers say offshore drilling for oil and gas off of New England and the mid-Atlantic states could jeopardize marine life and industries.

The New England Fishery Management Council agreed to send a letter to the federal Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management on Tuesday calling for the exclusion of East Coast waters from oil and gas exploration in the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf region. The council reports to the federal government and its recommendation applies from Maine to North Carolina.

Charles Krupa / Associated Press/file

PORTLAND, Maine - Officials at the Portland International Jetport say migrating snowy owls and the human admirers following them are causing trouble for the runway.
Officials at the airport say they've seen an increase in snowy owls migrating from Canada, and birders are spreading news about their sightings quickly through social media. WGME-TV reports birders coming to the airport are blocking emergency access points and illegally parking on the roads.

Gulf of Maine Deep Coral Science Team 2014/NURTEC-UCONN, NOAA Fisheries, UMAINE

PORTLAND, Maine - Federal fishing regulators are set to vote on a proposal that could protect nearly 90 percent of the coral habitat in a key commercial fishing area off New England.
The New England Fishery Management Council is expected to vote on the proposal on Tuesday. The council approved protections in another key fishing area, the Gulf of Maine, in June.
The same council has held off on voting on protections for an area south of Georges Bank until it could get more information about how the protections would impact commercial fisheries.

Salt, The Solution To Winter's Dangers, Threatens US Waters

Jan 29, 2018
Bill Sikes / Associated Press/file

CONCORD, N.H. - Truckloads of road salt used to keep highways ice-free in the winter are starting to take a toll on the environment.
Researchers say they're finding rising salt levels in hundreds of lakes, especially in the Northeast and Midwest where sodium chloride is used most. The findings are raising fears that salting roads could put everything from microscopic zooplankton to fish at risk in coming decades.

Maine Public/file

EASTPORT, Maine - Maine fishing regulators say they have shut down a few areas to scallop fishing, including parts of the state's most fertile scalloping ground.
The Maine Department of Marine Resources says it has shut down Johnson Bay and Eastport Breakwater in the Cobscook Bay area. Cobscook Bay is the most important fishing area for Maine scallopers.
The state says it's also shutting down Casco Passage, which is in the northwest corner of the Swan's Island fishing area.

Cynthia Christman / NOAA

NANTUCKET, Mass. - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is announcing a voluntary speed restriction zone south of Nantucket to protect a group of rare whales.
The federal agency said Tuesday that the restriction for mariners will be in effect through Feb. 5 to protect a group of 22 North Atlantic right whales seen south of Nantucket on Tuesday.
Right whales are among the most endangered marine mammals, and are coming off of a year of high mortality and low reproduction.

The latest storm to hit northern New England has brought freezing rain and ice buildup that knocked out power for thousands of homes and businesses.
The storm dropped half-a-foot of snow to the north on Tuesday while it was mostly rain to the south. In between, there was up to a third-of-an-inch of ice that caused problems.
Central Maine Power reported more than 10,000 outages late Tuesday afternoon.
The storm created slippery conditions that sent cars sliding. Officials said 89 crashes were reported overnight in Manchester, New Hampshire, alone.

Eastern Puma Declared Extinct, 80 Years After Last Confirmed Sighting

Jan 23, 2018
John Holyoke / Courtesy of Northeastern Wildlife Station/via Bangor Daily News

In the latest step of a process that has stretched for decades, the eastern puma, which once roamed forests in Maine and across the eastern U.S. and Canada, was officially removed from federal Endangered Species Act protection on Monday and declared extinct.

The latest storm to sweep through New England is bringing with it a bit of everything: rain, ice, snow and even the possibility of flooding.
Tom Hawley from the National Weather Service says snow that began falling Monday will change over to freezing rain and rain on Tuesday in many locations.
He said there could be a quarter of an inch of ice buildup in central Maine and New Hampshire, causing slick roads and raising worries about some power outages. At the same time, rainfall and ice jams are causing worries of flooding closer to the coast.