Exploring the Science of Seaweed Farming grows

The program is now in 15 schools in 7 Maine counties

The Boothbay Sea and Science Center (BSSC) experiential program, “Exploring the Science of Seaweed Farming”, a school-based effort in its 7th year, has expanded its reach to 15 schools in seven Maine Counties. This in-school program impacts more than 800 students each schoolyear and currently engages Maine seaweed farmers Down East to Gouldsboro and South to Casco Bay. The following schools and teachers are participating this schoolyear: Boothbay Region Elementary (Michelle Miclette), Southport Central (Julie Browne), Edgecomb Eddy, (Laurie Brown), Lincoln Academy (Janna Civittolo), Great Salt Bay (Nicole Ellis), South Bristol (Jason Bigonia), Medomak Middle (Kelly Robbins), Tremont Consolidated (Tonya Prentice), Chelsea Middle (Rosanna Gargiulo), Greenville Consolidated (Selena Tardif), Lisbon Middle (Deb Antl), Pownal Elementary (Jennifer Winkler), King Middle (Chelsea O’Connell – Barlow), Biddeford Middle (Kristin Wurth), and Sanford Middle (Diana Allen).

Last fall BSSC Executive Director Pauline Dion and Principal Waterfront Instructor Robert (RC) Chance assisted STEM teachers across the state to set up filtered seawater and “manmade ocean” tanks in their classrooms. For six weeks students observed and documented data about the environment and the growth of Saccharina latissama (Sugar Kelp) and/or Alaria esculenta (Alaria Kelp) growing in their tanks. In December, the seedlings were removed from the tanks, put on “vertical droplines”, and planted on one of the following farms: Casco Bay (Spartan Sea Farms), Frenchman Bay (Springtide Seaweed Farm),and Damariscotta River (Clark Cove Farm and PDion Farm). During the winter months until the harvest in late April students review the data they collected in the fall and develop hypotheses (i.e.The length of the blades of seaweed grown in tanks of filtered seawater will be longer than the blades of the seaweed grown in “Instant Ocean”).

Exploring the Science of Seaweed Farming program helps students gain a better understanding of Maine’s seaweed farming industry, the conditions under which macro-algae grows, and helps them to better understand where they live and have a stronger sense of place. The program challenges students and teachers to think critically about current impacts on the marine environment, future problems and possible solutions.

Many thanks to Ken Sparta (Spartan Sea Farms), Sarah Redmond (Springtide Seaweed), Christopher Davis – (Maine Aquaculture Innovation Center/Clark Cove Farm),Tim Miller (Darling Marine Center), Eben Wilson (The Lettie Elise), Onion Foundation, Maine Community Foundation (Lincoln County), University of Maine EPSCoR SEANET STEM Workforce Development, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, Michelle Miclette (Science Teacher Boothbay Region Elementary School), Bob Crink (Photographer),RC Chance ( BSSC Principal Sailing Instructor), Emma Dullaert (BSSC Marine Science Instructor), Samuel Annable (Darling Marine Center)and, in special memory, Seth Barker and Peter Fischer (Maine Sea Farms in Clark Cove).

On January 11, Pauline Dion presented the BSSC’s seaweed farming program at the Northeast Aquaculture Conference & Exposition (NACE) in Rhode Island. Dion’s overview of BSSC’s Maine in-school initiative was part of the three-day conference focused on sea farming – an industry that is stimulating economic growth in Maine.

A recorded version of Dion’s presentation is on BSSC’s website can be viewed below: