Life on the Harraseeket

Several types of communities are found along the shores of the Haraseeket estuary in Freeport, Maine. A community is any interacting group of individuals living in a common location. Some Harraseeket communities during the 1800s were centered around the social and economic needs of groups of people. This is the concept of “socio-economic” communities.

Ecologist also recognize “biotic communities,” which include all life in an area. While socio-economic communities include just people, biotic communities include people, fish, clams, marsh grass, white pines, and all other coastal life that thrives in the waters and along the shores of the Harraseeket estuary.

Biotic communities can be named for a prominent species in the community, such as the oak-hickory community, or they can be named after the place where the community lives, for example the mudflat community. Tides Of Change: A Guide To The Harraseeket District of Freeport Maine identifies four biotic communities in the Harraseeket district, named after the places where groups of plants and animals live, interact with each other, and function as a unit. They are the water, mudflat, salt marsh, and upland communities.

None of the communities can stand alone. Each one, with all of its members, is part of a complex system in which all plants and animals interact with each other and their environment.

I was principle author of Tides of Change, part of a public education program that I conceived and conducted through a collaborative master plan to interpret the Harraseeket watershed and unify educational efforts of Maine Audubon Society, Freeport Historical Society, Maine Bureau of Parks and Recreation; and Town of Freeport, Maine.

What changes have occurred in the landscape and within the communities of the Harraseeket since the 1800s? The land changed little. Communities living in the landscape changed considerably, particularly the socio-economic communities. Grab a copy of the guide to learn more; it’s available at the Maine State Library, several local libraries, and online booksellers.

Book cover with illustration of figure in small sailing boat in open eater amid marsh grass.

Author: Jacobson, Bruce (text by Bruce Jacobson, Joel W. Eastman, Anne Bridges; illustrations by Jon Luoma).

Title: Tides of change : A guide to the Harraseeket District of Freeport, Maine.

Publisher: Freeport Historical Society (ISBN: 0961325909 9780961325909), 1985.

Physical Description: 81 p. : ill., maps ; 16 x 23 cm.

Tides of Change is an illustrated guide that highlights the interrelationships between people living on the shore of a Maine estuary and their surrounding social and ecological systems over time. It’s publication was supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Cover illustration by Jon Luoma depicts an 1850s Phippsburg Hampton boat replica, built at the Apprentice Shop, plying the Harraseeket estuary with Bruce Jacobson at the helm.

Last Updated on 4 April 2022.