The Aquarium’s calico lobster and the Natural Science Museum’s tortoise need names! Come by and visit us at the Aquarium and the Natural Science Museum to meet the animals and submit your name into the contest. The winner will be announced in mid August and will receive a gift from MMA!
The animals cannot wait to meet you!
This summer, MMA is offering several new hands-on astronomy activities for families. These include:
- Robot Explorers
- Stars & Senses Night Hike
- AstorKids Nights
Visit our Family Programs page for more information, program dates, and registration.
The four-toed salamander.
The four-toed salamander (Hemidactylium scutatum) was not known on Nantucket until 2009. It is Nantucket’s second salamander species (behind the much more common red-backed salamander (Plethodon cinereus)) and only single individuals had been found in various Nantucket swamps. Four-toes have a white underbelly with black dots and only four toes on the hind feed (not five).
H. scutatum lays its eggs under moss on the edges of standing water and the adult female hangs out and guards them. There is tons of moss and standing water on Nantucket, so it was always assumed they were breeding here. However, until now, no one had been able to figure out where.
Yesterday, Andrew Mckenna-Foster, Director of Natural Science, organized an expedition
The group after finding the salamanders (and some spring peepers)
to look for nests with several long time volunteers (3rd-5th graders) and an MMA intern. The group carefully looked under moss and logs, making sure to replace everything and not destroy habitat. After striking out in one area (but finding several spring peepers), they moved to a new site and one young volunteer spotted a super tiny four-toed missing its tail. With renewed hope, we continued searching until Jack Dubinsky, MMA Aquarium Intern, found a nest with an adult and 11 eggs. They GPS’d the location and took careful notes on the nest before triumphantly returning home. The data will be reported to Nantucket conservation groups as well as to the state of Massachusetts.
There is still lots to discover on Nantucket! If you find a creature, take a picture and send it to us! The staff at the Natural Science Museum document all the life on Nantucket and keep track of how many species call this island home.
An egg from the nest. We carefully replaced it.
MMA is very excited to welcome the 2014 summer interns! We have hired 1 summer programs coordinator, 27 college interns, and 6 high school interns to assist in our various departments for the 2014 summer season.
Left to right: 2013 interns on and island tour with Nantucket Bike Tours; Aquarium intern; 2013 interns
Summer Programs Coordinator
Kyle Macsuga – Former Natural Science Museum Intern
Jack Dubinsky – Former Aquarium Volunteer
Astronomy REU Students
|Christopher Coomey – Returning Education Intern
Marketing & Development
Tabatha Hawkins – Returning Natural Science Museum Intern
High School Marine Science Interns
May is Preservation Month with Nantucket Preservation Trust (NPT). On May 17th MMA is collaborating with NPT to do a Historic Bake Oven Demonstration.
NPT has many events planned throughout the month of May. Take a look at their calendar!
Over the last weekend, a team of researchers stayed here at the MMA as part of an annual research trip to Nantucket. Goals for this trip were to collect more fossil shells below Sankaty Bluff and investigate a potential new snake research site. Two researchers, Jessica Cundiff (paleontology) and Joe Martinez (herpetology) are from the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology (MCZ) and two others, Scott Smyers and Scott Egan, are ecologists in the consulting field.
Sorting fossil shells at the end of the day.
Fossil shell collecting was a success and the team found some beautiful tiny snail shells. The fossil shells are ~125,000 years old and represent the life living in this area before the last ice age when, in place of Nantucket, there was a shallow sea. The glacier lifted part of this ancient sea floor and those sediments are now eroding out of the Sankaty Bluff.
After looking for fossils, the team headed to Almanac Pond to investigate the area for future snake population research. Just around the pond edge we captured four ribbon snakes (Thamnophis sauritus) and one garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis)! We weighed, measured, and noted injurieson each snake before letting it go. Three of the ribbon snakes were missing parts of their tails- most likely due to predation.
Ribbon snake on the left and garter snake on the right.
Did you see our Spring 2014 Newsletter with updates from the Departments of Astronomy, Education, Mitchell House and Natural Sciences? There’s a lot going on at MMA all year-round!
One correction to make, though. We are working with the Nantucket Flying Association on the “Air of Opportunities” program, not the Egan Maritime Institute. (Though we do love collaborating with them whenever we get the chance.)
5:00 pm May 16 to 5:00 pm May 17
Thank you to all of the participants and supporters this year! We had three teams scouring the island for birds and despite some poor weather Saturday morning, the total species count was 120 species! To see the tally, check out the 2014 Birdathon List.
This year’s Birdathon will raise money to support bird programs and scientific collections at the Maria Mitchell Association and the Linda Loring Nature Foundation. Teams take pledges from friends, family, and businesses and we count up how many species (not individuals) are seen total in a 24 hour period (5PM May 16 to 5PM May 17). People can pledge a dollar amount or an amount per species. Anyone is welcome and teams can be made up of one to five people. Typically we see up to 140 species and usually around 100.
Participation is completely FREE!
Download general information, team registration form, and pledge forms:
General Birdathon Information
Team Registration Form
Birdathon Pledge Form
This year’s t-shirt! (designed by Ginger Andrews)
To celebrate the end of the school year, we are offering a special camp for year-round residents of Nantucket for a discounted price during the weeks of June 16th and June 23rd. Program discounts are applicable with the purchase of an Island Family Membership.
Visit our website for more information or to register for these programs.
Join Kim Botelho, our new Director of Education, at the Natural Science Museum for her first family program with the Maria Mitchell Association. This program features one of Kim’s original stories, Brrr..It’s Cold Outside, which teaches children how common animals prepare for the cold winter months. Following the story, you will meet one of our education animals and then make a bagel bird feeder to take home for your outdoor feathered friends. If you wish, you can hang it outside the museum instead. This program is appropriate for children ages 3-6 years and they must be accompanied by an adult.
Thursday, February 27th, 10-11 AM
Members: $5 Non-members: $10