*Text taken from the online "Draft
Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental Impact
Statement," dated April 2004, of the Petit Manan
National Wildlife Refuge Complex.
This 28-acre island lies in outer Penobscot Bay, in the Town
of Matinicus Isle Plantation. The Refuge acquired the island
in 1999, under the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 1996. The
island is dominated with granite out-croppings interspersed
with vegetation. Dominant vegetation includes witch grass,
timothy, angelica, aster, red fescue, and chickweed. The east
side of the island is steep and rocky with large boulders that
plunge into the sea. The west side of the island tapers off
gradually and contains a gravel beach. Its habitats include
approximately 10 acres of grassland and 18 acres of rock ledge.
The Service is responsible for the light house structures,
however the Coast Guard continues to maintain the navigational
Matinicus Rock was the only Atlantic puffin colony (two pairs)
within Maine to have survived the market hunting that decimated
most seabird colonies in the late 1800's and early 1900's.
Since 1900, the island has been a principal breeding site for
Arctic terns on the Maine coast. It continues to be a highly
diverse and productive seabird colony. Common and Arctic tern,
laughing gulls, Leach's storm-petrels, common eiders, Atlantic
puffins, razorbills, and black guillemots nest on Matinicus
Rock. Terns numbers had declined in the 1990's, presumably
due to the rapid growth of the nearby Seal Island tern colony.
However, in recent years the colony has increased to 1,200
pairs of terns. Matinicus Rock remains home to the largest
Atlantic puffin and razorbill colony in Maine.
The laughing gull population continues to increase, and now
supports 624 pairs. The most recent alcid survey found over
300 puffin burrows, and 168 razorbill burrows. The island is
predominantly an Arctic tern colony (999 pairs), but also supports
198 pairs of common terns. Small numbers of roseate terns have
nested on the island, but not in recent years. Common murres
continue to visit the social attraction area, but have yet to nest on the island.
Table 3-20 presents the nesting seabirds known on the island.
We manage the island in cooperation with National Audubon
Society. Biological technicians staff the island, conduct biological
surveys (food and productivity studies), annually census the
island, control predators, and band terns. We are participating
in Arctic tern and Atlantic puffin research projects in cooperation
with the University of New Brunswick. Annual survey and study
results are available upon request from the Refuge Complex
The island also supports a wide variety of migrating songbirds,
shorebirds and raptors, and island researchers continue to
document the use of the island by these species.
The island is closed to public access during the seabird nesting
season: April 1 to August 31. Information signs alerting visitors
to this closure are in place. The island is open to waterfowl
hunting under State and Refuge Complex regulations.