Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Pound

Hermit Island is home to the most northern lobster pound in the United States. Before my visit to this lobster pound, I always thought the term referred to a place where lobsters are weighed, I learned this is not true.

A sign at the pound explained the origin and purpose.                                                              
    "You are now standing on the lower main dam of the Small Point Lobster Pound. This is a typical construction for a mud dam; it being double sheathed and filled with mud to half tide level.
    The first lobster pound was built on the east side of Scotland and used finely fitted granite slabs for closing off the cove.
    Pounds became necessary when Maine shut down the lobster canning business. Life storage became an important factor in accommodating large fluctuations in catch and market demand.
    Small Point Pound was built in 1948 on the same site of a much earlier up-and-down tidal saw mill.
    Lobster pounds are generally filled in October and emptied Mach to April when the "hoped for" price is well above the "going in" price. Lobsters are fed herring scraps during the winder until the sea water reaches cold enough temperature to make them comatose. Come spring and that high price, skin divers harvest them and off to market they go.
    Every winter the pound-keeper hopes for a small shrinkage caused by death and theft. Natural predators are gulls, mink, raccoons, and two-leffed homo sapiens.
    This is the most southern pound in North America. Holding capacity is between 40,000 - 80,000 pounds depending on the state of the owner's ulcer. Shrinkage can approach 30% depending on disease and predation.
    The large steel clapper in the center allows the pound to be completely drained at low tide. The upper dam was built to make the pound smaller, thus more manageable.
    Two large swinging gates are opened whenever ice has to be broken and pushed out. Such was the case for the '93-'94 season.

You learn something new every day!

Enjoy ~SJ

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