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News Feature

Blue Hill
Web exclusive, September 9, 2022
Mapping and conserving rockweed on the Blue Hill Peninsula
Presentation open to public

The Bagaduce Watershed Association invites the public to a free presentation on Tuesday, September 13, at 4 p.m. with Dr. Robin Hadlock Seeley, one of Maine’s foremost experts on rockweed, to discuss sustainable harvesting practices and her project to map the marine algae along Maine’s coast. It will be held at Bagaduce Music in Blue Hill.

Rockweed thrives in Maine’s intertidal zone. It is the seaweed found clinging to rocks along the Maine coast and forming underwater forests that help sustain marine life. Harvesters are appearing more frequently on the Blue Hill Peninsula due to its commercial value in fertilizers, animal feed, cosmetics and other products, according to a press release.

The event will include a discussion of a new GIS mapping project developed by Seeley to identify high- and low-value rockweed beds for conservation or sustainable harvesting; rockweed as blue carbon; the ecological sustainability of current statewide harvesting practices, including its management and recent legal cases; and practical suggestions on how to protect critical rockweed beds.

Seeley, who served as an expert witness in a rockweed case heard before the Maine Supreme Court, is one of Maine’s leading authorities on the ocean algae. She is a retired faculty member of the Shoals Marine Laboratory operated by Cornell University and the University of New Hampshire. She has served as a faculty fellow of the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future and as a past American Fellow of the American Association of University Women. She also held a position as a Conservation Leadership Fellow with Toyota/National Audubon.

“Rockweed is a critical link and a vital habitat in the marine ecosystem of our intertidal zones,” said Jim Saltonstall, President of the Bagaduce Watershed Association. “It is literally beneath our feet yet often overlooked. But now the pressures on rockweed are mounting as it finds commercial appeal. Having information from an expert like Dr. Seeley is an important place to start grappling with these issues.”

The event is co-sponsored by Bagaduce Watershed Association, Blue Hill Heritage Trust, Friends of Blue Hill Bay, Island Heritage Trust, the Downeast chapter of Maine Audubon and Climate Action Net.

The Bagaduce Watershed Association is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that advocates for the responsible use of the river and its watershed, keeping members and the community involved through a quarterly newsletter. BWA is also working on developing educational opportunities for local school children. The watershed of the Bagaduce River extends into the towns of Penobscot, Sedgwick, Brooksville, Castine and Blue Hill. To learn more and to become a member, visit bagaducewatershed.org.