The Strangeness of the Mainland

Siren’s coveI am back from a few days on Appledore Island, a severely gorgeous patch of rock and scrub ten miles off the coast of Maine. Cornell and the University of New Hampshire run a marine biology station there called Shoals Marine Lab, where students come for crash courses on all things marine, from sustainable fisheries to shark biology. Last year I came to give a talk about evolution; this year I was back to talk to students about writing about science. I pulled out some of my marine stories to discuss, on topics such as moray eels that are weirder than science fiction and the mindless intelligence of fish swarms.

bonnet headWhen I wasn’t wandering around the island with our kids in search of mermaids, I paid a couple visits to the shark class, where students were poking and prodding a bunch of specimens. I learned from the instructors about the electric organs hammerhead sharks have in their hammerheads, which they can use to detect the stingrays hidden in the sand. I had never held a hammerhead shark in my hand before–now I have.

final rayNow I’m back on the mainland, where it’s strange not to see the ocean everpresent in the distance. I’m working up my talk I’ll be giving Tuesday at the Chautauqua Institute as part of their celebration of Linnaeus and Darwin. puts a lot of Chautaqua talks on line–I’ll let you know if mine goes up. So back to the computer, and to daydreaming about rainy islands and handheld sharks.

0 thoughts on “The Strangeness of the Mainland

  1. I enjoyed the Loom when it was hosted at, and your “marine stories” were always amongst my favorites.

    I was reminded, in a roundabout way, of Sacculinid barnacles and their crab hosts while researching for my latest post at Amphidrome, “Crabs and Barnacles of the Texas Panhandle.”

  2. Hey Carl, is putting up everything we get from Chautauqua over time. If your speech is recorded, feel free to ping me with an email and I will get a link to you, or you can embed it on your site.

    Brian Gruber
    President and CEO

  3. Hi Carl,
    I was wondering if you had a contact for someone to speak with about coming to Appledore.
    My husband-to-be and I have decided not to have a tradition wedding and would like, instead, to give money to a company we admire. Both of us come from environmental educator parents and though we are, ourselves, artists- This beautiful world we live in and the protection of it is very dear to our hearts. I attended retreats on Star as a girl and stumbled upon Appledore through their website- but am having a difficult time trying to figure out who I should get in touch with. Thank you so much for your time.

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