The Maria Mitchell Association, Nantucket's Science Center 
E-Comet Newsletter
Edith Andrews: My Friend and Mentor 
(October 29, 1915 to October 31, 2015)
A remembrance by Jascin Leonardo Finger
Deputy Director & Curator of the Mitchell House, Archives, and Special Collections 

Every time I see a Yellow-rumped Warbler, I hear Edith say, "I call them Butter butts."  I don't think I ever look at one and don't hear her say that.  I don't think I will ever not hear her say that until I don't see one anymore. 

I was probably nine or ten when I first met her.  My parents took my brother and I on a Maria Mitchell Association (MMA) nature walk.  I think there were probably some groans from the adults who saw two children coming along -- little did they know how enthusiastic we were about this walk.  Clint was there as well and my brother made some discovery that got a very excited response from Clint, a quiet and shy man.

I quite literally learned at her knee as she sat in the old black rocker in the Mitchell House.  I was twelve, she was in her early seventies.  What people tend to forget, or simply don't know, is that Edith Folger Andrews began her MMA career in the Mitchell House as an assistant to the curator; herself working with Maria Mitchell's cousins.  That unique touch -- that connection to the family is what I grew up with learning from Edith when I first began volunteering in the Mitchell House at age twelve.  Over time, Edith became curator and served for many, many years and at several different times as curator -- into 1980.  She knew about the Mitchells and the House inside and out. 

Yes, ornithology is more than most certainly her life, her passion, but she was also passionate about the Mitchells and the MMA.  The MMA owes a great debt to her as she is largely responsible for much of the ornithological collection we have today.


Carolina Wolf Spider

There are some large spiders roaming around Nantucket right now, specifically, Carolina wolf spiders (Hogna carolinensis).  Not to worry though, they are harmless.This is the largest spider species in New England with some individuals as big as the palm of your hand.  They run around at night hunting insects and then pass the daytime hours in their burrows during the day time.  Happening upon their burrows is the easiest way to find a population.  Look for perfectly round holes surrounded by a "turret" of grass or sticks.
The pictures of the burrow here were taken last week at the Quaker Cemetery.  Interestingly, there is a Carolina wolf spider specimen in the MMA biological collection dating from 1929 collected from "the fields near Vestal St."  The spiders living at the cemetery are probably descendants of the population sampled in 1929!

Nantucket Science Update, Episode 2

Julia Blyth is the Collections Manager at the Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association. She prepares biological specimens, mentors interns and volunteers, and helps protect specimens that are over 100 years old. The MMA collections date from the 1870's and consist of birds, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, fish, mammals, and fossil shells. Soon these collections will be moved to a brand new facility.

 Click to watch . . .

Nantucket Biodiversity Conference
November 14, 2015 
Nantucket Hotel
This collaborative conference is free and open to the public.  It is a great way to learn about the amazing research taking place on Nantucket, Tuckernuck, and Muskeget. 
Talks are geared to everyone so you do not have to be a scientist to enjoy and learn!

Fall Programs

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The New BABE at the MMA
This past Tuesday, we received a phone call from Shea Fee and Brett Woodward, who said they discovered a seahorse at Hummock Pond.  At first, we were skeptical of their discovery and thought that they might have misidentified the creature.  Seahorses are rarely found alive so close to Nantucket!  According to Shea and Brett, the seahorse was in very shallow water and struggling to swim.  They brought the seahorse to deeper water where it was able to swim.  Shea and Brett knew that even though the seahorse was now swimming, it was not supposed to be in Hummock Pond and would most likely not survive.  After speaking with them, we decided it would be best to bring the seahorse to the MMA.  After properly acclimating the seahorse to the tank, SHE was gently released.  Yes, it is a she!  Those who know the story of Hide and Seek, know that Seek (another female seahorse) recently lost her partner, Hide.  We are very happy that Seek now has a female friend to hang out with so she will no longer be depressed.  Sometimes, all you need are your girlfriends and a good drink (of salt water).  


Update:  Unfortunately, Babe has passed away.  She was an extremely fragile creature, who somehow survived the traumatic experience of washing up on shore.  We did everything possible to rehabilitate her, but we knew that her chances for survival were slim.  Now, she has donated her body to science and will be preserved in our collections indefinitely for research.  RIP.

The MMA is a strong community and we are excited to welcome our newest members and their families:
  Vladimir Strelnitski, Pamela Polloni, Peter Brace, Robert Reid, Margaret Lensner, Albert Henderson, Lee Dunn, Warren Wegner, Mike Sullivan, Joy Margolis, Maura Wendelken, and Barbra Clarke

Are you a member?  We have updated our membership program to provide you with even more benefits. Hint: member ONLY stargazing nights!
Join  here and help support MMA programs.

Because members really do have more fun!

Private Events

Want to provide your guests with an unforgettable and unique evening?  Host them at the MMA's Loines Observatory.  Our gorgeous deck overlooks sensational sunsets and at night, the stars glitter like diamonds with a brightness only Nantucket can provide.  An astronomer will be at your service to show your guests majestic planets and star clusters through our world class telescopes.  This location is perfect for cocktail parties, birthday parties, corporate events, rehearsal dinners, and much more!
For more information, please call Lauren at
508-228-9198 or email: