Sunday, July 19, 2020

Our Week at Castle "Island"

Youth Summer Program 
July, 2020 

    This past week, our group was stationed at Castle Island. A bit of history about the site: Castle Island is named as so because it used to actually be an island detached from the Boston mainland, and the only way to get there was by boat. Castle Island is now less of an island and is surrounded by a man-made structure, similar to most of South Boston, downtown Boston, and East Boston. In fact, most of the area towards the water from the Old State House (now State Street station on the blue and red line) is man made- information learnt thanks to our Harbor Historian, David Coffin. 

A view of the Castle Island fort from the harbor (Boss, 2020)

    Although our fishing attempts were unsuccessful, and pretty sad, to be honestly, we did some research and learned about the local fishing industry and what one can expect to find while successfully fishing in the Boston Harbor. Depending on the season, one can find striped bass, tautog, winter flounder, bluefin tuna, squid, and many other species of fish and cephalopods. Cephalopods are a class of animals that are distinct because of their big heads, body symmetry, and arms or tentacles. Examples are squids and octopuses (no, it's not "octopi"). 

    Most of what we did manage to catch consisted of European Green crabs which are an invasive species. What is an invasive species, you ask? It is a species of animal that does not have native roots in its current environment and does harm to the surrounding habitat. Specifically, Green crabs are destructive in New England because they destroy eelgrass when searching for food and they eat soft shell clams that are important to the fishing industry. Native to parts of Europe like the UK and Ireland, Green crabs are also huge fans of hot dogs (as seen below). 

    Green crab feasting on bait

    When we weren't having bad luck on the pier, we turned our attention to scientific drawings. A scientific drawing is a drawing of an organism or plant that has clear lines and labels; basically a drawing without getting too artsy with it. It's what was used in the times when there were no cameras and you needed to precisely remember something you saw! Below is my best attempt at a spiny dogfish and the labels of some of its more prominent features. These types of sharks are found in the NE and NW Atlantic on coastal areas, anywhere between 10-200 meters. 

My award-winning drawing of a spiny dogfish

    Needless to say, when the end of the week came around, we were excited to put our fishing gear down, wash off the smell of squid, and sit back and learn a whole lot of the Harbor's history. Below is a picture of some of my team taking in what our tour guide had to say. We learned about the history, architecture, culture, and ecology surrounding Boston Harbor and the islands. I'm excited to see what this upcoming week brings. 

A photo of our team intensely listening to our harbor guide. 
Left to right: A chilly [barely visible] Ariana, William, Ruben, Devin, and Claudia's hair

Catch me on the coast!


Boss, O. (2020). ‘Not cool’: Police issue social distancing reminder with photo of Castle Island. Retrieved 17 July 2020, from 

Pappas, S. (2020). Mutant Green Crabs Are Mean, and They're Invading Maine's Waters. Retrieved 17 July 2020, from 

Spiny Dogfish - Squalus acanthias | Marine Conservation Society. (2020). Retrieved 17 July 2020, from 

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