BELFAST — Students from Mount View High School’s Ocean Science class got a glimpse of what oceanography researchers actually do Friday, Oct. 1.

The annual ocean science fall field trip made stops at Bucksport, Stockton Springs, Searsport, Belfast and Bayside, where students obtained water samples and gathered data from Penobscot Bay.

Lobsterman David Black addresses the Mount View Ocean Science class at Belfast Harbor Oct. 1. Photo by Fran Gonzalez

Teacher Genevieve Black said students learned many practical tests commonly used in oceanography to understand water quality and the ability to sustain healthy life.

Mount View High School students on their annual ocean science field trip at Belfast Harbor Oct. 1. Photo by Fran Gonzalez

Last year’s trip was canceled because of the pandemic, she said and added, “This was the fifth time we have gone.”

Mount View High School students sample the water of Belfast Bay Oct. 1. Photo by Fran Gonzalez

“They test the water for temperature, density, salinity, depth, secchi depth, current speed, pH, nitrates, nitrites, dissolved oxygen and (obtain) plankton samples,” she said.

“Each of these parameters are things that give us insight to the health of the ecosystem,” Black said. “Looking at these parameters helps students understand connections between them, too. For example, a site without many phytoplankton with a high dissolved oxygen value may be explained by a fast current.”

A highlight of the trip, according to one student, was meeting the teacher’s father, David Black, at his lobster boat docked at Belfast Harbor, where he spoke about his 57 years in the lobstering business.

Mount View High School students collect data such as temperature, density, salinity, depth and current speed to name a few, Oct. 1 at Belfast Harbor. Photo by Fran Gonzalez

Black said he began lobstering at age 14 and over the years has seen many changes to the industry. Most notable, he said, is the introduction of wire traps.

“Also, you cannot drag or dive for lobster,” he said. “The rope is better, the boats are now made out of fiberglass and will last forever.”

Lobsterman David Black shows one Mount View High School student how to band the claws of a lobster Oct. 1 in Belfast Harbor. Photo by Fran Gonzalez

Black also said in 1976, a Maine law established a 200-mile limit, and other countries cannot come within this boundary to fish.

Another change he has noticed over the years is the rise in the ocean temperature. Recently, he said, he recorded a bottom temperature of 58 degrees, which is the warmest he can remember for this time of year. “This past year has been warmer than the last 20 years,” he said.

Genevieve added, “Once the temperature hits 19 degrees Celsius, lobsters will avoid the area.”

With the depletion of the codfish over the years, Black said, lobsters became more plentiful. For a lobster, he said, pointing at a trap, “this is McDonald’s.”

Sawyer Inman displays his vessel, the RV Mustang, which he designed to test current speed, shown here Oct. 1. Photo by Fran Gonzalez

Fishermen are feeding lobsters the amount of bait that is going down with the traps, he said, something Black believes has supported the species. “There’s a lot more lobsters being landed now than 30 years ago.”

Lobster prices are currently high, he said. “We are finally able to get some reward for our labor.”

Genevieve said in the spring, the class will be practicing transect sampling looking for green crabs, an invasive species.

Teacher Genevieve Black holds a pair of lobsters Oct. 1 at Belfast Harbor. Photo by Fran Gonzalez