A tiny pelagic seabird, the Dovekie, was discovered this morning laying dead in the sand. I think it must have died very recently as it was completely intact. Dovekies are the smallest of the auks (the puffin family) and when on the beach they are in serious trouble because they walk very poorly and have difficulty taking off. Most of us will only ever catch a glimpse of this tiny treasure far away and out to sea and although very dead, it was beautiful to see.

Dovekies (also known as the Little Auck) breed on islands in the high Arctic and move south to the the north Atlantic in the winter. Several weeks ago, one was spotted off the shoreline on Atlantic Road.

Photos of living Dovekies courtesy wikicommonsmedia.



WHITING; NEW ENGLAND HAKE (Merluccius bilinearis).  Differs from true hakes (genus Urophycis)  Drawing by H. L. Todd

Silver hake are strong swift swimmers, well armed and extremely voracious.  Probably a complete diet list would include the young of practically all the Gulf of Maine Fishes. A 23¼ inch silver hake, taken at Orient, N. Y., had 75 herring, 3 inches long, in its stomach. And it is probable that the silver hake that frequent Georges Bank feed chiefly on young haddock.  As sweet a fish as one could ask, if eaten fresh or if slack salted overnight and used for breakfast the next morning.  Soften so fast they must be frozen quickly.

From Fishes of the Gulf of Maine by Bigelow and Schroeder, 1953.  Online courtesy of MBL/WHOI.  http://www.gma.org/fogm/Merluccius_bilinearis.htm


Massachusetts landings of silver hake reached a peak in the 1950s with a high of 108 million pounds in 1957.  From 2010 to 2016 landings have been in the range of 7 to 9 million pounds.  (NOAA)


Have you noticed the sun is setting later

As the sun was gong down on Monday, realized it was almost 6:00 when I got home.  Now that is a good sign.  Monday night’s sunset interesting with the sun shining on one of the buildings in Boston.  Also when looking at Magnolia Harbor the moorings will be full of boats in no time.  YEAH…

Jazz Brunch at Feather & Wedge Featuring Mitchell Selib & Zack Auslander, Sunday, March 4


Join us Sunday, March 4, 10:30 AM to 2:30 PM for brunch with music by talented Berklee-trained jazz duo, Mitchell Selib & Zack Auslander. Mitchell and Zack are well known for their unique, modern arrangements of 1930’s to 1960’s jazz standards. To see all upcoming events at Feather & Wedge, visit our website.

Reservations suggested.  978. 999. 5917

Mitch Selin Zack Auslander Jazz Brunch Feather & Wedge

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The lecture on Coywolves last night.

The City of Gloucester Animal Advisory Committee hosted an informative presentation on the Coywolf last night at The Cultural Center at Rocky Neck. Dr. Jonathan Way who is an expert on the habits of the Coywolf spoke for 90 minutes with a lively question and answer period which had to be cut off so we could go to work today.

As a real review, I’ll do that later since there is a lot to unpack. Jon said up front to hold your questions to the end but I knew I was not the only one busting a gut holding back my questions on such a fascinating topic. For now, I will just list a few take-home bullet points of things that were news to me.

• The coywolf is relatively new to the area but it is not an invader, not an invasive species. No one parachuted these coywolves into the east. They migrated naturally from the west to fill the niche vacated by the exterminated wolves. (Blame that on the pilgrims.) If coywolves are an invasive species then virtually every mammal on the planet including man is an invasive species.

• The coywolf wants to have nothing to do with humans. They also want nothing to do with dogs. They fear both. If you think they are stalking you and your dog it is likely because they perceive you as a threat to their puppies and are tracking you to make sure you are heading away from their puppies. Once you have moved far enough away, they will double back to protect the den.

• This bullet point was a shock: Given the size of Cape Ann it is likely that there is one pack on the island. WTF? How can that be? Coywolves cover a lot of territory each night. More on this later.

• Evidence shows that killing an adult in a pack can easily make the pack split and double in size. So shooting one might not be the wisest policy unless you want more coywolves.

•This last bullet point is the biggest. Do not feed the coywolves. There are plenty of mice, rabbits, voles, bugs, to eat. If you think you are helping them you are dead wrong. You are habituating the coywolf to humans and they will likely become a nuisance and have to be shot. Just don’t do it. Do not leave dog food outside. Make sure your bird feeders are not feeding them, don’t leave garbage out.

•• If you know a neighbor who is feeding them. Report them to the police, to the animal control officer, shame them on “Because Gloucester” Facebook page. Make sure they stop.

•• If you see a photographer who wants a photo of a coywolf putting food out to attract them, report them. Bang pots, make them stop. Shaming on “Because Gloucester” as a last resort.

A science observation: Jon described mitochondrial sequencing, Y chromosome sequencing, using SNP panels, all to figure out what is going on with this animal. From these data it is shown that our local coywolf is 30% wolf, 10% domestic dog, and 60% coyote. The cool thing is that whole-genome sequencing of these animals is right around the corner. That is what I do in my day job. Just five years ago I spent $15,000 to sequence one human genome. I can do it today for $1,200. Still a little pricey but that number will continue to drop and we will know a lot more as to how these animals are evolving. Because they are evolving. Each year, traits are selected for. If this new animal can avoid cars, mate successfully, know how to opportunistically hunt new types of food (coywolves are very good at eating what is available, rabbits, voles, cats), they give birth to smarter animals who fill the niche better. A coywolf who is hit by a car, cannot find a mate, or cannot find food, will not be passing on their genes. We are witnessing Darwinian evolution in real time. These animals are no longer coyotes. They have different behavioral patterns and phenotypes. They are not wolves either and they sure are not domestic dogs. They are a new species, canis oriens, which has stabilized. It is not comingling with actual coyotes, wolves or dogs, they treat all three as threats.

Shoot, I was going to keep this one short. So here is a picture of some coywolves that will be giving birth on Cape Ann around the beginning of April.

[Additional edit 2/28] I have received a bunch of email and messages about the number of packs on Cape Ann. My response and likely Jon’s response: No idea. Anecdotal evidence is dicey. The same three coywolves could walk the perimeter of their terrain every evening and every morning through the same 23 backyards. Would that be reported as 23 packs? An exaggeration for sure but they do lay out tracks that are many miles long. They are looking for something to eat, avoiding people and dogs, but also marking their pack domain to ward off other coywolves. Since Cape Ann is an island with only three leaks (coywolves love to walk the tracks) the pack size might be peculiar. The only way to find out is putting a radio collar on a couple of them. Except Mass Wildlife will not allow that. (long story.)

Is there one pack? Two? Has one coywolf been killed so the pack breaks into two and multiples? No way of knowing without data. From Jon’s experience of pack size on Cape Cod, there may be only one pack. But Cape Ann is known to be the more awesome Cape so Cape Cod data might be irrelevant here. 🙂

Go to this website here to find out why Jon has suggested a new name, canis oriens, for the animal that is living with us on Cape Ann.

Steel wool

Here is the image of the steel wool spinning behind man of the wheel statue that we talked about on the podcast. Definitely need to find another location and give this a group effort., let me know if you’re interested .

Kettlebell Training at CFCA

Cape Ann Wellness

Did you know that Kettlebell training is accessible and practical for all fitness levels? It also combines strength and cardiovascular work into one simple and effective tool.


Come join us at Crossfit Cape Ann tonight (and Thursday nights) for our weekly Kettlebell Class at 5:30PM. No previous kettlebell experience required and your first class is FREE! Crossfit Cape Ann is located at 18 Sargent Street in Gloucester, MA. See you there!

For more: http://www.crossfitcapeann.com

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FREE WEBINAR TODAY!!!: Practical steps for Low-Carbon Living

Practical Steps for Low-Carbon Living
a League of Women Voters webinar and open conversation hosted by the Green Community Task Force
Tuesday, February 27 at 4:00 PM in the Rockport Town Hall conference room (lower level)
4:00 to 5:00 video connection to speaker John Rogers at the Union of Concerned Scientists
5:00 to 5:30 open conversation about applying these (or other) practical steps on Cape Ann

It’s today FEB 27TH, 4:00pm-5:00pm. To register click this link below.




Cultural Festival. Free fun for families.

If you have young kids who enjoy learning about cultures from around the world, this is a fantastic free event!

Saturday, March 3rd 9:00-12:30 at Harborlight Montessori in Beverly.

We welcome you to Harborlight to experience our second annual Cultural Festival. Journey through our halls on a trip through Spain, Peru, Hungary, England, Mexico, China, Nigeria, Japan, Ireland, Morocco, Portugal, and America. Also make a stop along the way to learn Sign Language. Begin in our library where guests will enjoy music and stories from around the world. Grab your passport and begin your adventure! Have your passport stamped while enjoying art, crafts, recipes, and activities from a variety of cultures. The morning will end with live entertainment. A group of youth performers from the Chinese Folk Art Workshop will perform a traditional dragon dance, a Diablo yo-yo performance, and leave time for hands-on demonstrations. Some of Harborlight’s own faculty and parents, Harborlight Sevillanas, will perform the Flamenco, and Harborlight students will sing international songs.


One Small Thread in History’s Tapestry

Did you get the flu this year? All the flu-news brought to mind the flu epidemic of 1918, one hundred years later.  This global pandemic killed 50 MILLION people, largely healthy young adults from age 20-50.  You could feel fine in the morning and be dead by midnight.  So I wasn’t surprised to find a family connection to this crisis as a result of my recent Gloucester research.  Sadly, this is a particularly tragic story.

William Bentley is a first cousin of mine, William being the grandson of Captain John Bentley.

You will note he married Blanche Wagner.  As children, Blanche and her sister Margaret survived a horrific fire that killed two of their siblings.  Tragically, you also notice that Margaret also died in the flu epidemic just one day after William died, leaving behind four young children including a 2 month old baby.

Very tragic story all the way around.  Flu related news was all over the papers in this time period, in Gloucester and around the world.  Sometimes we don’t consider that our families participated in the history of our country or world, but this is one small thread in the tapestry of world history.