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 availability 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 16 o C (About 60 o F). 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 butterfly 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).

The Bowdoin Scientific Station is perhaps best known for research on seabirds, especially gulls and storm-petrels.  About 80,000 birds representing more than a hundred species have been banded on the island since 1935.  Numerous investigations have focused on a variety of questions, including development, vocalizations, and navigation in storm-petrels;  population dynamics and behavior of warblers, sparrows, and swallows; physiological ecology; life history evolution;  diversity and distribution of island plants; marine and terrestrial invertebrate biology; and meteorology. More than 250 scientific papers have been published based on research at the Station (see list of publications from Kent Island). Researchers at the Station are encouraged to publish the results of their investigations in peer-reviewed journals with contribution numbers from the Bowdoin Scientific Station.  Research activities are described in detail in the Annual Reports.

Although classes are not offered at the Station, the Station's core mission is to provide undergraduates with unique experience conducting their own mentored research for 9 weeks of the summer. Undergraduates comprise about half of the researchers at the Station, with faculty researchers plus a few graduate students making up the remainder. Informal research seminars are presented periodically during the summer.




Fred Field Emma Greenberg