Sheep Porcupine Island is likely one of the most photographed islands in Acadia National Park. Yet, most people are not even aware of its name. The reason why it is so often photographed is its close proximity to Bar Harbor, Maine and how this often places it square in the background of most any photo taken from the public pier, Agamont Park, or the Shore Path.
It difficult to even locate information about this small little island, online. First, one might assume that it is located within the municipal town lines of Bar Harbor since it is a short distance offshore. But this is not the case. It is actually in Gouldsboro, a town located on the mainland near Schoodic Peninsula! As the crow flies, the Gouldsboro town office is about 8.5 miles to the northeast of the Bar Harbor pier. But, via the highway, this translates to about a 40 minute drive. (See Gouldsboro History.) However, good reason to visit that area is to see the Schoodic portion of Acadia National Park - the only section of the Park located on the mainland. And, it is gorgeous with very little traffic and tourism activity.
Have you noticed the odd shape of the islands in this part of Maine? There is a gradual incline on the north side with a much steeper drop on the southern downside. The reason for this is simple. Thousands of years ago during a couple of ice ages, huge glaciers, as much as two miles high in sections, slowly migrated across the land in a southeasterly direction. The weight of this ice sheet was unimaginable and so enormous that it would shear off parts of the islands as it moved over them. The glacier would also scoop out large sections of land that would become ponds, lakes, and even fjords like Somes Sound. If you look at the map of Mount Desert island, you will see how the lakes and other bodies of water follow this north to southeastern direction.
Sheep Porcupine Island is a nesting area for the American Eagle and a variety of seabirds. Consequently, the island is closed to public access during nesting season which is February 15 through August 31 of each year. The only access is by boat. If you are kayaking or boating near the island, be sure to have some binoculars for getting a closer view of the birds. Also, be sure to have a Coast Guard approved life vest for each passenger while boating on Maine waters.
Sheep Porcupine Island - Size: 22.2 acres • Owned by: National Park Service • Municipality: Gouldsboro
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