According to the Web site wordorigins.org, “Scuttlebutt is an early 19th century nautical term for an open cask of water kept on deck for use by the crew. The term comes from scuttle — to cut a hole in — and butt — a large cask. Sailors would gather about the cask and trade stories and gossip, much like modern office workers do at the water cooler or coffee pot. By the turn of the 20th century, American sailors began using the term scuttlebutt to refer to these sea stories and gossip. Eventually the term became associated with any gossip or rumor.”

Marine research priorities subject of upcoming meetings

HALLOWELL — The Department of Marine Resources, in collaboration with the Gulf of Maine Research Institute and the Maine Sea Grant program, is launching a new priority setting process to focus and encourage research on areas of greatest importance to the future sustainability of Maine’s marine resources.

A series of meetings will be held in November and December along the coast to bring industry members, scientists, managers and general public participants together to help shape research agendas for sea scallop, herring and lobster. These meetings will focus on current scientific issues in these fisheries and result in an update of research priorities that were generated in 1996 and 2000.

Fishermen, scientists and members of the public will participate in a facilitated discussion that provides an opportunity for exchanging ideas and observations that can form the basis for research questions.

Meetings will be held on the following dates:

Sea scallops — Nov. 18 in Machias

Herring — Nov. 22 in Portland

Lobster — Dec. 9 in Ellsworth

Lobster — Dec. 10 in Portland

Meetings will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. To register or for more information about the meetings call 624-6553.

Offshore wind conference slated for Dec. 14

ROCKLAND — A one-day offshore wind conference will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 14 at the Hutchinson Center in Belfast. The conference will provide coastal stakeholders with tools and information to help them engage in discussions about offshore wind development in Maine and weigh the related costs and benefits. The conference is free to the first 100 participants, and $15 for those who register after that point.

The Island Institute, the Maine Coastal Program, Maine Sea Grant, the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences and the Quebec-Labrador Foundation have teamed up to offer conference participants a day of panel discussions and breakout sessions on a wide range of topics related to the development of offshore wind resources in the Gulf of Maine.

The day will open with an update on state and federal goals and a discussion of the critical factors that could influence the realization of those goals: economics, environmental impacts, impact on current ocean uses and public engagement. Subsequent panels will highlight how each of these factors have played out in the development of ocean-based renewable energy projects throughout the New England region, and the lessons that can be learned from them. The day will end with interactive discussions of new tools and concepts for engaging coastal stakeholders in the evaluation of future offshore wind development.

For more information, including the conference agenda and ways to register, visit the website at islandinstitute.org/windconference2010 or contact Sally Perkins at 594-9209 ext.103.

Send scuttlebutt to Herald Gazette reporter Shlomit Auciello at sauciello@villagesoup.com or call 207-236-8511.