Merrymeeting Bay Smelt Shack

Yesterday’s New York Times had a feature article in the Food section on An Icy Portal Into the Small World of Smelt.  Written by Dave Sherwood, a resident of Bowdoinham, ME, the article had this lovely picture of Merrymeeting Bay:

Merrymeeting Bay Smelt Shack NYT 17.3

Says Sherwood, “The massive sheet of tidal ice atop which our shack sits is fickle and unpredictable. The bottom of the bay is filled with sandbars and rocks and fallen logs over which the ice heaves and falls every six hours with all the grace of a dinner plate tossed down a flight of stairs.”

Merrymeeting Bay is a large freshwater tidal bay into which flow the Androscoggin, Kennebec, Cathance, Muddy, Eastern and Abagadasset Rivers.  The continuation of the Kennebec drains it to the ocean.  It is quite unlike anything else called a bay.  Tides push seawater up into the bay (through a narrow portal called The Chops), but Merrymeeting Bay water is brackish, more fresh than salt.  According to the Maine Department of Conservation, “Over 50 species of freshwater fish use the Bay, as well as ten species of anadromous fish, including the rare Atlantic salmon, shortnosed sturgeon and Atlantic sturgeon. At least one rare mussel species inhabits the Bay, and one of the Bay’s small tributaries is the state’s only known location for the redfin pickerel.”


About Doug Bennett

Doug Bennett is Emeritus President and Professor of Politics at Earlham College. He has a wife, Ellen, and two sons, Tommy (born 1984) and Robbie (born 2003).
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