Resources & Facilities – Field Stations

The Bowdoin Pines

Adjacent to the campus on either side of the Bath Road is a 33-acre site known as the Bowdoin Pines. Cathedral white pines, some of them 135 years old, tower over the site, which is a rare example of one of Maine’s few remaining old-growth forests. For biology students, the Pines provides an easily accessible outdoor laboratory. For other students, the site offers a place for a walk between classes, an inspirational setting for creating art, or simply a bit of solitude. A system of trails within the Pines makes the site accessible to students and community members.

Bowdoin Scientific Station

The College maintains an island-based scientific field station in the Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick, Canada, where qualified students can conduct research in ecology, animal behavior, marine biology, botany, geology, and meteorology. The Bowdoin Scientific Station (BSS) is located on a cluster of islands in the Grand Manan Archipelago known as Three Islands. Three Islands consists of Kent, Sheep, and Hay Islands, which are owned entirely by the College. Kent Island, the largest of Three Islands (250 acres), was presented to the College in 1936 by J. Sterling Rockefeller. In 2003, the College acquired neighboring Hay and Sheep Islands to help preserve the unique environment offered by Three Islands. The Bowdoin Scientific Station has an international reputation, with more than 200 peer-reviewed publications based on research at Three Islands, many of which are co-authored by students.

Three Islands is a major seabird breeding ground. Its location makes it a concentration point for migrating birds in spring and fall. The famous Fundy tides create excellent opportunities for the study of marine biology. Three Islands also features a variety of terrestrial habitats.

Although formal courses are not offered at BSS, students from Bowdoin and other institutions select problems for investigation at Three Islands during the summer and conduct independent fieldwork with the advice and assistance of a faculty director. Students have the opportunity to collaborate with Bowdoin faculty as well as graduate students and faculty from various universities and colleges. Three-day field trips to BSS are a feature of Bowdoin’s courses in ecology, marine biology, and ornithology.

Coastal Studies Center

The Coastal Studies Center occupies a 118-acre coastal site that is twelve miles from the campus on Orr’s Island and known as Thalheimer Farm. The Center offers the Bowdoin Marine Science Semester each fall, and interdisciplinary teaching and research throughout the College.

The Center’s facilities include the Marine Laboratory renovated in 2014, allowing  researchers to study a diversity of benthic and pelagic marine organisms and systems. The Marine Laboratory includes a new dry-laboratory classroom that features light microscopy and molecular biology capabilities. The site has 2.5 miles of coastline, a dock and pier  facility, and a buoy facility that provides continuous monitoring of Harpswell Sound. The Center maintains a small boat fleet including the twenty-eight-foot research vessel, the R/V A.O.K., the twenty-three-foot R/V Laine, and a maritime skiff. Other facilities include the off-the-grid Terrestrial Lab (T-Lab), a space that embodies the multidisciplinary approach of the Center in that it is used as both an art studio and laboratory, and the Bowdoin sailing team’s Leighton Sailing Center. A centrally located farmhouse serves as a meeting  space with a forty-five person capacity and a facility for computationally demanding science laboratories. Classes, students, and faculty from all disciplines use the Center for fieldwork, research, lab work, meetings, and recreation.

The Coastal Studies Center site is surrounded on three sides by the ocean and encompasses open fields, orchards, and old-growth spruce-fir forest. A 4-mile interpretive trail runs through the site, offering students and the local community a glimpse into the cultural and natural history of the property and surrounding coastal waters.