WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King announced that Bates College, in partnership with the Hurricane Island Center for Science and Leadership, will receive a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant totaling $24,952 to help coordinate research and training being done at a network of field stations in the Gulf of Maine.
“As the environmental and economic impacts of warming waters and sea level rise continue to ripple through Maine’s coastal communities, marine research has never been more important for the future of our state,” said Senators Collins and King in a joint statement. “This investment will support critical research efforts underway throughout the Gulf of Maine that will help us understand and better protect our environment and the livelihoods of our fishermen.”
This grant will allow a network of small field stations in the Gulf of Maine to craft a plan in order to implement shared research and training goals. The planning will include two multi-day meetings for all station directors, scientists associated with field stations, and three scientific advisors. This process will produce a summary of knowledge gaps and research priorities, equipment needs, teaching and training recommendations, and a strategy for data management. Following this initial phase, the directors of the three lead stations will work together to create a 10-year strategic plan for the network that will allow the small stations to coordinate their efforts and fully leverage their capacity. The three lead stations are the Bates College Coastal Center at Shortridge, the Hurricane Island Center for Science and Leadership, and the Bowdoin Scientific Station at Kent Island.
There are at least 20 field stations in the Gulf of Maine that gather environmental data, and 10-15 of them are small operations with limited resources. Each of these stations has a limited geographic area that it covers, but together, they span from Nantucket to Nova Scotia.
The Gulf of Maine has historically been one of the world's most productive marine ecosystems. However, in August 2014, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a report outlining the decline of the cod population in the gulf. The Gulf of Maine Research Institute also recently found that the gulf is warming faster than 99% of the world's oceans, and suggested that Maine could serve as a “living laboratory” to study rapidly changing marine ecosystems.