The Bowdoin Scientific Station (BSS) is a biological field station located on Kent Island, New Brunswick, Canada. Operated by Bowdoin College since 1935, the field station also includes the adjacent Sheep and Hay Islands. BSS is dedicated to:
• Supporting the liberal arts mission of Bowdoin College, the activities of the broader scientific community, and those who live around the Bay of Fundy
• Training students to become future leaders of their fields
• Protecting the flora, fauna and environmental quality of the Bay of Fundy
• Promoting world-class scientific research on the organisms and habitats of the Bay of Fundy
• Providing a rustic working and living environment that is free of distractions, allowing scientists and students to become fully immersed in their work and living community, and
• Providing a focal point to encourage collaboration and discourse among all members of the Bowdoin community as well as visitors and researchers at the field station.
The Bowdoin Scientific Station is located on Kent Island, New Brunswick, Canada (44.48°N, 66.79°W), was established in 1935 as a research facility and sanctuary for nesting seabirds. The station has been a member of the Organization of Biological Field Stations since 1988. Key living and research facilities were recently renovated with support from the National Science Foundation.
Kent Island is located 5.4 mi. (9 km) south of Grand Manan Island in the Bay of Fundy. Visitors may take a 1 1/2 hour ferry from Black's Harbour, New Brunswick, to the village of North Head, Grand Manan Island. (Black's Harbour is about a 40-minute drive from the U.S.-Canadian border at Calais-St. Stephen.) There are six ferry departures daily from late June until September, and three departures daily during the rest of the year. Note that New Brunswick is on Atlantic Time (one hour later than Eastern Time). Coastal Transport Ltd., Saint John, NB may be contacted at (506) 662-3724. Consult its website for current timetables and fees.
After arriving on Grand Manan, visitors drive 20 minutes south from the village of North Head to Seal Cove, where, with advance arrangements, the Station's caretaker will transport visitors to Kent Island by fishing boat (45 minutes). Transportation from Grand Manan to Kent Island is free if your travel coincides with an existing scheduled trip; otherwise, boat transportation costs US $175/trip trip and needs to be planned in advance. The boat crossing is dependent on good sea conditions, so flexibility is important.
Flora, Fauna, and Physical Environment
Kent Island is the southernmost vegetated island in the Grand Manan Archipelago. The island's area is approximately 247 acres (100 hectares). It is 1.8 miles (2.8 km) long with a maximum width of about 0.5 miles (0.8 km) and maximum elevation of 61 feet (20 m). Neighboring Hay Island (75 acres [30 ha]) can be reached by foot at low tide; Sheep Island (45 acres [18 ha]) can be reached by small boat. Numerous other nearby islands in the Grand Manan Archipelago are accessible by the field station's workboat, depending on sea state and the availabilty of a boat operator.
Summer weather conditions at Kent Island have been recorded nearly continuously since 1937. Fog occurs during about one-third of summer days. Daytime high temperatures are generally around 60 o F (8 o C). Because of the cool, moist climate of the Bay of Fundy, the flora and fauna of the Bowdoin Scientific Station are characterized by boreal species that would normally be restricted to more northern latitudes or higher altitudes.
The northern third of Kent Island is covered by a forest of white spruce, balsam fir, and heart-leaf birch, with mountain ash colonizing disturbed areas. The understory is dominated by mountain wood-fern and whorled aster. The southern two-thirds of the island are mostly treeless, with old fields, a small freshwater stream, a marsh, and shrub habitats. More than 280 terrestrial plant species have been identified at Kent Island (see plant species of Kent Island).
About 200 bird species have been recorded at the Station, 55 of which have nested there. There are large colonies of herring gulls, Leach's storm-petrels, and black guillemots. Other abundant birds include common eiders, Savannah sparrows, song sparrows, and various warblers. Kent Island is a major stopover point migratory shorebirds (see bird species of Kent Island). The island lacks reptiles, amphibians, and terrestrial mammals other than humans, bats, and muskrats. The insect fauna is moderately rich and reasonably well known (see insect species of Kent Island).
The marine environment is dominated by brown algae. More than 30 species of marine algae have been identified. Marine invertebrates are moderately diverse (see marine species of Kent Island). Average daily tidal flux is approximately 14 feet (4.5 m), with a maximum of more than 20 feet (6.5 m).