The Bowdoin Scientific Station (BSS) is a multidisciplinary field research station and wildlife sanctuary operated by Bowdoin College and located on the Bay of Fundy’s Three Islands chain (Kent, Sheep, and Hay Islands). BSS is dedicated to:
• Promoting world-class research by providing the best research tools and infrastructure available and by offering access to the organisms and habitats of the Three Islands region for scientists and students,
• Providing a working and living environment that is free of distractions, allowing scientists and students to become fully immersed in their work,
• Training students to become future leaders of their fields,
• Protecting the native flora and fauna of Three Islands,
• Providing a focal point to encourage collaboration and discourse among all members of the Bowdoin community, and
• Supporting the liberal arts mission of Bowdoin College and the activities of the broader scientific community.
The Bowdoin Scientific Station is the biological field station of Bowdoin College of Brunswick, Maine. The station, located on Kent Island, New Brunswick, Canada (44 35'N, 66 45'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.
Kent Island is located 5.4 mi. (9 km) south of Grand Manan Island in the Bay of Fundy. Visitors may take a one and a half 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, or 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 fees are free, if they coincide with scheduled trips (usually one per week, leaving Seal Cove on Monday). Special trips cost US $175/trip.
Flora, Fauna, and Physical Environment
Kent Island is the southernmost vegetated island in the Grand Manan Archipelago. The island's area is about 200 acres (80 hectares). It is 1.8 miles (2.8 km) long, its maximum width is about 0.5 miles (0.8 km), and its maximum elevation is 61 feet (20 m). Neighboring Hay Island (75 acres/30 ha) and Sheep Island (45 acres/18 ha) can be reached by foot at low tide or by small boat. Numerous other islands in the Grand Manan Archipelago are accessible by boat.
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 F (8 C). Because of the cool, moist climate of the Bay of Fundy, the flora and fauna of the Bowdoin Scientific Station are characterized by many 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 and red spruce, balsam fir, and heart-leaf birch, with mountain ash colonizing disturbed areas. The understory is dominated by spinulose 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 birds include eiders, Savannah sparrows, four species of swallows, and various warblers. Kent Island is a major stopover point for tens of thousands of 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 over 20 feet (6.5 m).