End of summer at the Boothbay Sea and Science Center, Part 1

Lunchtime at the Sea and Science Center. Bob Crink photo

By Emma Dullaert

While it’s been three weeks since the Boothbay Sea and Science Center (BSSC) summer program came to a close, something still seems to be missing on Linekin Bay. For nine weeks, the sight of the BSSC fleet of sailboats and rowboats cruising through the bay and kids exploring tidepools and enthusiastically exclaiming “I found a crab” delighted neighbors and visitors alike. It is fair to say that BSSC’s first summer at their new home at 12 Carter Road was a roaring success. BSSC purchased the estate of Mildred A. Carter on Linekin Bay in February of this year, and thanks to a significant effort from its director, Pauline Dion, dedicated Board members, staff, and volunteers was able to open its doors in record speed.

Each day at BSSC consists of boating and hands-on marine science experiences. Students learn basic rowing and sailing skills that include both land and water-based activities focused on concepts like knot tying, weather forecasting, rowing, sailing Turnabout dinghies and fixed keel boats that include a Precision-15, and two 23-foot Sonars. BSSC is proud of their commitment to safety at sea and their uniquely integrated marine science and boating program. What stands out amongst the feedback that they receive from students and parents is that the science and sailing instructors instill a sense of confidence and independence in the skills they are taught. One student in the Mizzen Program (ages 5-8) impressed his grandfather, a longtime avid sailor, by taking the helm and proudly demonstrating the sailing skills he had learned during his time at BSSC. Neighbors also noticed that, despite the many rainy days this summer students at BSSC could be found in rowboats exploring the nearby shore, on the floats towing for plankton, in the tidepools searching for the sea creatures that make their home there. Favorite activities amongst the students were getting to sail in the bigger keel boats and going on adventures to Perch Island in Linekin Bay, where they would explore and enjoy a refreshing swim.

The sea and science program at BSSC consist of a variety of one-week topics focusing not only on local marine life and vegetation, but also on how communities use and rely on Maine’s coastal ecosystems. This year’s topics explored marine art, shipbuilding, impacts of climate change, marine debris, and aquaculture. BSSC’s topics focus on coastal resiliency and encourage students to think about possible solutions when addressing issues such as climate change and pollution. Sea and science lessons were taught inside the classroom in the repurposed Boatshed and the concepts were reinforced with hands-on experiences that took place in the many fantastic tidepools found at low tide on the shores lining the property and on the water in the Bay.

BSSC’s 2023 summer program kicked off with a “variety week” offering students a sample of each of the weekly topics that were expanded on throughout the summer. According to the students, highlights of the science aspect of this summer’s program included learning about sustainable fishing, doing plankton tows, creating art from marine debris, beach seining, and exploring the tidepools. By far the most popular activity was working with BSSC’s fleet of SeaPerch Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs). BSSC’s ROV program is run by Junior Sea and Science Instructor Caroline Snell who, this fall, is in her senior year of high school. Students in the Stays’l program (ages 9-17) helped build the remaining two of the seven ROV’s and attached GoPro cameras to explore the underwater world. Throughout the summer, students enjoyed many opportunities to operate the ROVs which were launched from the BSSC floats and boats.