More than 20 miles from the nearest port at Mount Desert Island in Maine, low-lying, wave-swept Mount Desert Rock is only about 17 feet above sea level at its highest point. Congress appropriated $5,000 for a lighthouse on Mount Desert Rock on March 2, 1829, to aid mariners heading to Frenchman and Blue Hill Bays from the south. The light went into operation on August 25, 1830. The structure weathered many storms before being replaced by a new 58-foot granite tower in 1847. The new tower was designed by the noted architect Alexander Parris.
The station was automated in late 1977. The light station was then leased to Bar Harbor’s College of the Atlantic for use as a whale watching station. Under the Maine Lights Program, Mount Desert Rock Light Station, along with Great Duck Island Light Station, became the property of the College of the Atlantic in 1998. Allied Whale is the marine mammal research division of College of the Atlantic.
Sean Todd is the Steven K. Katona Chair in Marine Sciences at College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine, and he also directs Allied Whale, the college’s marine mammal research program. He spent ten years in Newfoundland as part of the Whale Disentanglement team, a group that releases large entangled whales from fishing gear.
In Maine he is trained as part of a first response team that performs a similar function. Sean also acts as a professional guide, including 14 seasons in the Antarctic and 11 seasons in the Canadian sub-Arctic and Arctic.
He created, wrote, and stars in the award-winningLife in the World’s Oceans, a 30-part DVD series available from TheGreatCourses.com.
Jeremy D’Entremont is the author of more than 20 books and hundreds of articles on lighthouses and maritime history. He is the president and historian for the American Lighthouse Foundation and founder of Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses, and he has lectured and narrated cruises throughout the Northeast and in other regions. He is also the producer and host of the U.S. Lighthouse Society podcast, “Light Hearted.” He can be emailed at Jeremy@uslhs.org