Facilities at the Coastal Studies Center

The Coastal Studies Center (CSC) facilitates teaching and research across a range of scientific disciplines. Access to the ocean enriches our hands-on research approach—crucial to developing critical thinking skills in our students. The marine lab and waterfront facilities supports CSC’s scientific mission, and those of our collaborators.

Our natural laboratory includes walking access to miles of coastal habitat (rocky intertidal, cobble beach, soft sediment, and subtidal eelgrass), as well as water access to exposed rocky environments and the Kennebec and New Meadows estuaries. Orr’s Island provides a sentinel site to understand the impact of a changing climate on coastal systems in Casco Bay. A buoy operated by Dr. Collin Roesler (Bowdoin, Earth and Oceanographic Science) continuously monitors physical and chemical properties at the mouth of Harpswell Sound. These seasonal data are supplemented by year-round observations from a weather station, intertidal temperature loggers, and a carbonate chemistry sensor platform (in collaboration with UNH). We also maintain a large inventory of field equipment for point sampling water, sediment, and organisms.

Contact Nicholas Kenney (nkeeney@bowdoin.edu) to inquire about use of the Marine Laboratory, and reservations for the farmhouse or terrestrial laboratory.

Marine Laboratory

Marine Laboratory

The Marine Laboratory unveiled new facilities fall of 2014 after a summer of renovations. A reconfiguration and expansion of the original building has transformed the existing “wet laboratory” with a new modular tank design and improved water quality. Researchers using the lab are able to investigate whole organisms, single cells, or even single molecules. We are continuously supplied with natural and sand-filtered seawater from Harpswell Sound, allowing researchers to maintain a diversity of marine life in up to 30 large tanks. An NSF grant is enabling us to build on our capability to control and monitor temperature, pH and oxygen in real time in these units. This allows for physiological research on warming, ocean acidification and hypoxia; as well as keeping animals in optimal growth conditions. We have additional experimental tanks for larval and biomechanics work, and recently added a low-temperature incubator, used for culturing arctic or tropical phytoplankton. Our dry lab classroom includes the tools necessary for microscopy, sample preparation, and molecular biology. Feel free to contact us to discuss how the lab and waterfront can support your research objectives. 

For more information, see a story about marine lab renovations, and equipment upgrades.

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Boat Program

Boat Program

Bowdoin acquired a new research vessel, the R/V A.O.K., which joined the R/V Laine and a Maritime Skiff at the Coastal Studies Center dock in mid-September (2014). Donated anonymously to the College, this 28-foot Parker Hull with twin outboard motors allows faculty to take students to offshore research sites that are beyond the reach of the College’s other vessels.

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Farmhouse

Farmhouse

The Coastal Studies Center farmhouse has new audiovisual equipment, improved data connection speed, and a set of large-screen desktop computers for computationally demanding science laboratories. The farmhouse is used for Bowdoin Marine Science Semester courses, and other classes, research and lab work, faculty writing retreats, research presentations and other campus meetings.

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Buoy

Buoy

The Coastal Studies Center provides a sentinel site at the edge of the Gulf of Maine to understand the impact of climate change on coastal systems, and to monitor key aspects of physical and biological environments that are changing rapidly. The Bowdoin buoy project connected to the Center allows continuous monitoring of Harpswell Sound, and the high capacity seawater system of the marine laboratory provides exceptional experimental capabilities across an array of disciplines.

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Pier and Dock

Pier and Dock

The Bowdoin College Coastal Studies Center is committed to creating opportunities for students and faculty that advance discovery while promoting teaching, training and learning from a range of scientific disciplinary perspectives. The pier helps realize this commitment in three important ways. The pier greatly increases the opportunities Bowdoin students have to engage in marine science by expanding areas of inquiry beyond the bounds of the property to the surrounding waters of Casco Bay and the Gulf of Maine. This allows students and faculty to engage in a range of projects based at the site, for example, a study of invasive green crab diets (and their potential impacts on the shellfish industry); studies of the alga that causes red tide and paralytic shellfish poisoning, and much more.

The pier also benefits visiting scientists and research that use the Coastal Studies Center and serves as a catalyst for creating collaborations with other institutions, such as acidification research on Maine Clam Flats with Kennebec Estuary Land Trust, and a collaborative project on the ecological recovery of Maine rivers and coastal fisheries. The pier and dock also provide access to the Bowdoin Buoy which allows continuous monitoring of Harpswell Sound. Access to the ocean enriches our support for hands-on research, education and training that are so crucial to preparing students for advanced degrees in the sciences.

This pier and dock project was made possible through generous financial support from Geoff Rusack (‘78) and Alison Wrigley Rusack, and the National Science Foundation.

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Leighton Sailing Center

Leighton Sailing Center

The Bowdoin team sails out of Leighton Sailing Center located at the Bowdoin Coastal Studies Center on Orr's Island.  Typically there is an 8 to 12 knot seabreeze, which gets shifty near sunset. Unlike most other Northern New England teams, large tides prevent Harpswell Sound from freezing in the winter which allows the team to begin practicing early in the spring.

The facility, which opened in the spring of 2014, spans 1,500 square feet and features a meeting space, a coach's office, team changing rooms, new restrooms and showers, and a deck. The existing 155-foot pier at the Coastal Studies Center will be available for spectators, but will now include a new take-off landing, an 80-foot ADA accessible gangway connecting the pier to the float system, berthing for two support boats, two moorings and dry storage for 24 boats.

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Terrestrial Laboratory

Terrestrial Laboratory

This building is located at the edge of fields and forest and has a wall of windows from which it is possible to watch birds along the forest’s edge. Large north-facing skylights provide natural, diffuse, bright lighting particularly suitable for artistic work. Electricity for the building is supplied entirely by solar power cells.

The lab exemplifies the multidisciplinary approach of the Coastal Studies Center in that it is used as an art studio by art classes and as a laboratory by science and environmental studies courses. The building provides a space for field classes to come in out of the weather where they can have discussions and set up scientific equipment. Student and faculty research projects also use this lab.

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