Saint Joseph’s is the only liberal arts college in Maine, and one of the few small colleges in the Northeast, to offer a major in marine science.
Through independent study, internships, and senior research, students work on important local issues. From cataloging the diversity of Gulf of Maine waters, to studying the causes and effects of red tide outbreaks, or researching how the chemical environments affects juvenile clam survival (crucial to proper fishery management), the marine science program is making a difference today and developing the scientists and leaders of tomorrow.
At a Glance
College’s location in Standish, Maine, allows easy access to lakes, mountains, forest, and shore for field exercises and research opportunities.
Low student-faculty ratios, ensuring close interaction with professors.
Students become involved in research, preparing them for careers and graduate school.
Courses provide broad training needed for a career in science, but also numerous specialty courses for students to pursue individual interests.
Marine science faculty members guide students through investigations of the geological, physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of ocean systems, and students also receive training on the fresh waters of Maine. A heavy emphasis on field work ensures that students will spend ample time learning the discipline in stimulating locations—the rocky coast, mudflats, estuaries, the sea floor, even the open waters of the Gulf of Maine. All faculty members are active in research, and student involvement is a key component. Collaborations with organizations such as Friends of Casco Bay and Portland Water District are also important aspects of how marine science majors learn in this program.
Started in the fall semester of 2014, the Environmental Science Semester (ESS) is a 9-week program for sophomore and junior environmental science and marine science majors enrolled at the College. The entire program, from date of launch through the last final exam and project, is off-campus with field-based projects and instruction in coastal Maine, Atlantic Canada, and aboard a schooner exploring the islands and waters of the Gulf of Maine.
The ESS consists of four courses divided up into three segments. The four courses are climate change and glacial geology, marine ecology, oceanography, and field methods. The first three courses segmented, and field methods is spread out through all three segments.
The concepts behind the ESS are rooted in both experiential education and immersion education. Because students are taking a full load of courses during the ESS, they aren’t simultaneously trying to take courses in philosophy, math, history, etc., and can therefor better focus their attention on this particular field of study. Ultimately, the practical experiences gained through this program solidify understanding of complex processes and interactions, boost confidence, and result in a more marketable background for students’ future careers.
Noah Ebel ’12 was passionate about the sciences, to say the least. As an undergrad, he double-science majored with three minors.
Joe O’Reilly ’18 Researches Atlantic Surf Clams in Casco Bay
Joe spent the summer before his senior year of college researching growth rates of Atlantic surf clams off of Peaks Island. He received funding for this internship through the Sustainable Ecological Aquaculture Network (SEANET), which is connecting interdisciplinary researchers along the coast of Maine to help advance sustainable farming of finfish, shellfish, and aquatic plants. Joe worked alongside aquaculture researcher Dr. Mark Green, a professor of sciences at Saint Joseph’s College. Joe wants to help bring more awareness of surf clams as a potential local food source for area restaurants, especially because they grew to market size within just one year.
Following our second stay in Wells, we returned to Portland before catching the ferry for a week on Peaks Island in Casco Bay. Once on Peaks, we observed the changes in wave energy affecting the island around its perimeter.
Before heading back to the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve, the gang stopped at Thompson’s Orchard for some fall festivities – apple picking and donut eating. In Wells, the salt marsh was another strong example of zonation that we’ve seen throughout our learning.
After our first adventure on a research boat studying the Damariscotta River estuary, where we observed how the salinity and mixing state of the estuary affects the diversity of zooplankton and phytoplankton population, we moved on to Rocky Intertidal Zones. We went to Ocean Point at Linekin Neck in Boothbay Harbor, Maine.
After an early morning wake up, we set off to experience the main attraction the Darling Marine Center had to offer, the Damariscotta River estuary. Heading down to the boat, it had already started off rough; rainy and cloudy, but it was all worth it in the end.