Beacons of Safety for People and Seabirds
Once essential for safe maritime travel, lighthouses now provide sanctuary for nesting seabirds. Eight lighthouse islands on the Maine coast have been transferred from the U.S. Coast Guard to the refuge.
For more than a century, light keepers operated beacons on Petit Manan, Franklin, Pond, Two Bush, and Libby islands; and Matinicus and Egg rocks to ensure safe travel for passing vessels. With the advent of underwater electric cables and solar power, automation of the lights became possible. The islands were transferred to the Service from the Coast Guard, which still maintains the lights. All of the lights are on the National Register of Historic Places, with the exception of Two Bush Island Light.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is responsible for maintaining six out of the eight lighthouses and protecting nesting habitat for seabirds on all these islands. Common, Arctic, and endangered roseate terns; Atlantic puffins; razorbills; black guillemots; common eiders; Leach's storm-petrels; and laughing, herring, and great black-backed gulls nest on our lighthouse islands, although not all on the same ones. The Service and the National Audubon Society are actively working to re-establish colonies of nesting terns on Pond and Petit Manan islands and Matinicus Rock.
All of the lights are on the National Register of Historic Places, with the exception of Two Bush Island Light.
The islands are closed to the public during the seabird nesting season, April 1 - August 31, to minimize disturbance to the birds. Commercial tour boats provide views of nesting seabirds and lighthouses on Petit Manan and Machias Seal islands.
Contact Maine Coastal Islands
National Wildlife Refuge
P.O. Box 279