STEM ON THE COAST

We ended the week with a quick turnaround between programs, dropping one group off and picking up another within 24 hours!  This week-long program, in partnership with Baxter Academy for Technology and Science, focused on both sail training and teaching students about the ecology and economy on the coast of Maine.  

We began the week with an impromptu stop at Monhegan Island for a tutorial on the local lobster industry and then continued north for our first official stop at Hurricane Island.  Always a highlight for our students, we spent the day exploring the island and learning about scallop aquaculture. 

The next morning, we visited with the North Haven Oyster Company where our students sampled oysters and saw the day-to-day operations of a family-run, oyster farm on the Maine coast.  To ensure we kept with our tight schedule, we began our sail south toward Walpole that afternoon.

This next portion of our voyage required the most logistical preparation and skill to complete.  To sail Gamage up the Damariscotta, a notoriously narrow and crooked river that empties into the Atlantic Ocean, we needed to time our entrance to the river perfectly with the tide.  Thankfully, with Captain Bailey at the helm, we made it through problem-free in time for our lecture at the University of Maine’s Darling Marine Center

Professor Bob Steneck and his colleagues talked about different species found in the Gulf of Maine, their history, and their status today, and our students even spent time outside the center learning about the Damariscotta River Estuary. 

After an eventful afternoon on land, we sailed safely down the river toward our final stop: Bowdoin College’s Schiller Coastal Studies Center (SCSC) on Orr’s Island. 

Our Baxter Academy educator on board, having done his undergraduate degree at Bowdoin College, took our students around the facility where they were able to speak with SCSC students regarding their current research projects.

After an eventful week, we arrived safely back in Portland yesterday.  Thank you to the incredible individuals and organizations who welcomed our group and taught us so much about Maine’s coastal marine ecology and how it impacts us all.  We must do our part to keep our oceans safe.