Citizen Science Opportunities

Cuttyhunk STEAM Academy is spearheading a Citizen Science project involving the monitoring of the Atlantic Horseshoe Crab and with your help will survey the beaches and saltmarshes to gain a better understanding of where these organisms are living. Horseshoe crabs have been around for more than 300 million years, making them older than dinosaurs. They look like prehistoric crabs, but are actually more closely related to scorpions and spiders. Horseshoe crab eggs are a food source for numerous birdsreptiles, and fish.

Most horseshoe crabs will not even make it to the larval stage before being eaten. Threats to horseshoe crabs include habitat loss and overharvesting, while beach developments impact breeding. The Horseshoe Crab is listed internationally as vulnerable and so monitoring them is an important part in assessing their current status. Complete the survey below when you find a horseshoe crab on Cuttyhunk Island.

Marine Debris: Sources, Impacts, Solutions

Marine debris pollution threatens marine life, ecosystems, human health, and coastal economies. Cuttyhunk Island is a major depository of marine debris all around its shores and given the remote location, terrain and access difficulty, challenges and costs related to the debris removal efforts to remove are sporadic and nominal. The Cuttyhunk STEAM Academy is encouraging islanders and visitors alike to join in as a member of the STEAM Brigade who will regularly make efforts to clean the beaches and shoreline throughout the year.

In addition to sponsoring removal efforts, the Cuttyhunk STEAM Academy looks to raise awareness about the impacts of marine debris, the importance of proper waste management practices, implement and utilize recycling programs, promote sustainable alternatives to single-use plastics, and support prevention strategies. Be on the look-out for structured events and pop-ups.

Catch That Crab!

The quantity of green crabs tells a tale many communities along the east coast are facing – European green crabs (and Asian shore crabs) in our local waters is having a destructive force on Cuttyhunk’s shellfish and marine ecosystem. The green crab is one of the most insidious invasive species and poses an enormous threat to our lobster and clam populations, as well as oysters and mussels, and other shellfish.

First to arrive in the United States in the mid 1800s via ballast water in ships, females lay as many as 185,000 eggs per year. Green crabs also cause habitat destruction by burrowing into eelgrass beds, which is a habitat for many marine species including juvenile fish.

Crabbing is a favorite summer activity for many island children and visitors. Instead of throwing those green crabs or shore crabs back into the water so that they continue their devastation, place them in the Cuttyhunk STEAM Academy collection bucket available at the fish dock. The crabs will be collected regularly and used to create compost.

Cuttyhunk Butterfly Garden

In June 2023, with the assistance of many community members, STEAM organized, designed and installed a butterfly and pollinator garden in front of the schoolhouse and playground. Butterfly and pollinator gardens are essential for promoting biodiversity, supporting food production, conserving species, educating communities, enhancing landscapes, and mitigating environmental challenges. Their importance extends beyond individual gardens to contribute to the broader goal of creating sustainable and resilient ecosystems.

Each season STEAM will host a variety of programs engaging the garden with the local community. This interdisciplinary approach not only enriches educational opportunities but will also foster a deeper appreciation for the interconnectedness of natural systems and human endeavors.

Vermicomposting – Got Worms?

Vermicomposting – Got Worms? Learn how to use vermiculture as a method to converting organic waste into nutrient-rich compost and borrow a worm bin for the time you are living on island. After participating in a free vermiculture presentation, residents/visitors can borrow a readymade worm bin for use in their home or rental property during their island stay (supply will be limited). As worm bins are returned, they will be available to additional residents to borrow.

Two vermiculture information sessions will be held in June and July. Kitchen scrap containers will also be available for anyone who is interested. Vermiculture is a great way to reduce waste, improve soil health, and create sustainable gardening practices. And, it reduces the amount of solid waste that accumulates on the island, ultimately a cost savings for the town and potentially for you.

The worm bin lending library program was made possible through the Gosnold Cultural Council.

Project FeederWatch

Project FeederWatch turns your love of feeding birds into scientific discoveries. FeederWatch is a November-April survey of birds that visit backyards, nature centers, community areas, and other locales in North America. You don’t even need a feeder! All you need is an area with plantings, habitat, water, or food that attracts birds. The schedule is completely flexible. Count your birds for as long as you like on days of your choosing, then enter your counts online. Your counts allow you to track what is happening to birds around your home and to contribute to a continental data-set of bird distribution and abundance.

Project FeederWatch is operated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Birds Canada.

Project Overview