Home‎ > ‎Almanac Archive‎ > ‎

Almanac Archive for July 9, 2019

Visit our Website

Find us on Instagram

Become a VCS Member!

Quote of the Week

“We cannot save everything, but we can have a memory of it.”
—Architect Liliane Wong, speaking about the inevitable loss of some historic buildings

Adaptation to sea level rise presents additional challenges in historic neighborhoods. Some very old houses wouldn't survive relocation, and sometimes the modifications needed to save them would do away with what makes them historic in the first place. A great read in yesterday's NY Times details the diverse strategies being considered in one such neighborhood, "The Point" in Newport RI. These include floating "amphibious" foundations, basements that become temporary cisterns, and, in the approach referenced above, casting in concrete the facade of houses doomed to sea level rise, leaving behind "reminders of what had been lost."
3-Minute Survey:
Food Waste

The MV Food Waste Initiative has been developing strategies to reduce the staggering amount of food that we throw in the trash, something that represents both a significant portion of our waste stream and a lost opportunity to do something better. 

Please take a few minutes to complete this short 9-question survey. It aims to learn about Islanders' opinions and behaviors related to food waste at home. The information will help us establish the next steps for an Island-wide plan to convert this waste into useful resources for our Island.

Conservation Calendar

Climate Change & Rare Plants
Wednesday, July 17, 5:30 — 6:30 pm, West Tisbury.
Bill Brumback, recently retired Conservation Director for the Native Plant Trust, will discuss how climate change during this century is expected to affect the plants of New England and their habitats, with special emphasis on rare plant species. At the Polly Hill Arboretum, $10 ($5 for members), more info at website

Hazardous Waste Collection Day
Saturday, July 20, 9:00 am — noon, Edgartown.
Hazardous waste (motor oil, oil based paints, stains, thinners, and other products) are collected three times a year at the Edgartown Transfer Station free of charge for all Island residents. (Products containing mercury, including watch and hearing aid batteries, thermometers, barometers, fluorescent and neon bulbs, are collected during all regular business hours.)

Ocean Science Talk: Eelgrass Ecosystems & Blue Carbon

Saturday, July 27, 10:00 am — noon, Edgartown.
As part of their "Local Waters, Living Waters" speaker series, the Great Pond Foundation hosts WHOI scientist Mary Carman, EPA scientist Phil Colarusso, and retired shellfish constable Dave Grunden for the second installment of this wonderful educational opportunity. A free event at the Edgartown Library, see GPF website for more info. 

Book Talk & Signing:
Braiding Sweetgrass

Friday, Aug. 9, 4:00 p
m, Aquinnah.
Author Robin Wall Kimmerer will share lessons from her inspirational book Braiding Sweetgrass, described as “a journey that is every bit as mythic as it is scientific, as sacred as it is historical, as clever as it is wise.” At the Aquinnah Cultural Center, 35 Aquinnah Circle; suggested donation of $5 (or more). For more info see event poster, call (508) 645-7900 or email.
Environmental DNA: A New Era for the Science of Conservation

Cultural diversity is central to the history of Oak Bluffs' Inkwell Beach. What ecological diversity can be found in the waters offshore? (Photo by Ray Ewing)

Tomorrow afternoon, Jesse Ausubel, Director of the Program for the Human Environment at Rockefeller University (as well as VCS Science Adviser), will share insights and new data gathered from his groundbreaking work using eDNA for aquatic and marine wildlife sampling. The free presentation will be July 10th at 5:00 at the Chilmark Library.
Environmental DNA (eDNA), also known as loose, extracellular, or naked DNA, results from the breakup of cells. It is continually cast off, yet doesn't persist long before breaking down, so the recent presence of many organisms can be reliably detected by analyzing these DNA fragments. (To learn more, including a much more sensible approach to finding the Loch Ness Monster, see this piece in Smithsonian Magazine.)

In 2017, Jesse presented at the VCS Annual Meeting on this exciting new sampling method, sharing results from two of our local bodies of water, Look’s Pond and Tisbury Great Pond. As his presentation made clear, early returns from eDNA analysis are highly encouraging. Monitoring eDNA can be used today to supplement – and possibly someday supplant – traditional sampling methods, many of which are time-consuming, expensive, and destructive to the very wildlife we seek to better understand.
In advance of tomorrow’s presentation, Jesse shared with us his results from sampling at the Inkwell last summer. From July 29 to September 22 we see changes in the fish species present that are consistent with traditional sampling methods (and the expectations of fishermen), as well as the occasional sightings of less common fish (and even a Leatherback sea turtle). His earlier results from Look’s Pond and Tisbury Great Pond also yielded interesting results. The fish species detected were completely different, presumably due to the large difference in salinity between the ponds. The ponds had only one species in common: Homo sapiens, a fitting result given our tendency to leave our mark – and DNA – everywhere on Earth.

Technical notes: For the Inkwell graphic, the columns of boxes from left to right are weekly surveys, with black indicating presence (and white absence) of eDNA for a given species. The table of data from Look’s Pond and TGP shows the number of “reads” for each species. A DNA read is a distinct sequence of nucleobases – the cytosine (C), guanine (G), adenine (A), and thymine (T) molecules that encode information in DNA – that spans the sampling frame of interest. The number of reads is understood to be an index of the approximate abundance of the species. However, one read does not equal one animal – each animal sheds a lot of eDNA, and the amount could depend on size, age, and recent feeding history, among other factors.

Local Businesses, Please Help us Expand the Tap Map!

A performance at last month's World Oceans Day in Bangkok makes a powerful statement. (Photo by Romeo Gacad)

This summer marks the launch of the next leg of our "Take Back the Tap" initiative, the ongoing series of projects and educational programs to reduce the waste associated with bottled water. We are now reaching out to local businesses, asking stores and restaurants to make it easier for the public to fill up their water bottles for free. This could entail anything from as simple as keeping a pitcher of water on the counter to as grand as installing a water bottle refill station (and anything in between). Please contact us (508-693-9588, or email) if you are interested in talking about what possibilities could work for your business. We would love to add you to the MV Tap Map – help Martha's Vineyard Take Back the Tap!

Help Wanted: Green the Fair for Cash and Prizes

2018 marked a hopeful new beginning for improved waste management at the annual Ag Fair. Led by Island Grown Initiative, VCS, and Sail MV, the collaborative effort to “Green the Fair” came in response to the challenges and opportunities presented by the scale of waste at such an event. The new system was successful, reducing waste by 31% as compared to the previous year, while diverting 6,500 pounds of food waste to the compost.

This year we can do even better – but only with your help! Fairgoers who come to a waste station with no landfill trash at all will be entered into a raffle for reusable goodies (water bottles, cutlery, etc), with drawings held throughout the day and announced over the MVAS loudspeaker. Also, a "zero-waste-in-your-home" booth will be set up where anyone can glean educational tips and tricks. Most important to the effort, though, are the workers of the "Green Team": the adult volunteers and paid kids that help educate the public and keep everything going where it needs to go. Read all the details here, and then please sign up for a shift!

The Vineyard Conservation Society is a non-profit membership organization dedicated to preserving the environment of Martha’s Vineyard through advocacy, education and the protection of the Island’s land and water.
Submit your conservation news to:
Copyright (C) 2019 *Vineyard Conservation Society* All rights reserved.
Original content by Jeremy Houser unless otherwise noted.
Email not displaying correctly? View it in your browser.

   The Conservation Almanac
             Environmental news from the Vineyard Conservation Society