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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Bat Study

Are there bats in Frenchboro? Steve Pelletier is trying to find out. Earlier this year he placed a monitoring station out on Southwest Point and today he arrived in Frenchboro with our old friend, Terry Towne of Maine Coast Heritage Trust, hoping to pick up all his equipment and study the data. Wanna come, kids? Thought you'd never ask.

We found some cool things along the way, like this bird's nest. Saylor even found an eagle's feather on the ground. And we had to D-R-A-G Brody away from all those buoys.

Finally, we reached the point and saw Steve's equipment, powered by solar panels, hanging from this old dead tree. He had to secure it carefully to survive the big storms. It looked like it was in fine shape!
Steve told us how it worked and began to untie all the lines holding it taut.

We were very attentive...or perhaps a little catatonic from the long walk?

After retrieving the equipment, Steve began opening it up and we gathered in close to see.

Inside the plastic, waterproof casing was this recording device. When I asked Steve how much the set up cost, he said it was around $2,000. It wasn't until later that I learned that he's really doing all of this pro bono, because of his deep interest in bats. Pretty amazing.
After we hiked back to the school, Steve showed us some slideshows about bats and talked about different studies that he's been involved with. Have you heard about the White Nose Fungus that's affecting bats in many states? Scientists are still not sure what is causing it or how to stop it but it is killing bats, sometimes entire caves are decimated. Imagine the bugs we'd have here in Maine without the bats! Scary.
Steve also showed us that the data that is collected with his equipment will be compared to other stored data about bats, so they'll be able to tell exactly which bats are here (if any) by the sounds that they make. Yay for bats...I hope we have lots. Thanks to Steve and Terry for a look into the life of a real scientist. Come back soon!

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