Using Temperature Data from the Maine Shellfish Monitoring Program to Help in Siting Shellfish Aquaculture Farms

Developed by Maine Sea Grant and Maine Department of Marine Resources

WHAT temperature data are available from the Maine Dept. of Marine Resources?
The Maine Dept. of Marine Resources records shoreline temperatures along the entire coastline, through its water quality sampling program and the volunteer phytoplankton monitoring program. These data are available upon request. This page is designed to help current and prospective aquaculturists access this data, for consideration in siting their farms.

WHY should I consider these data for my aquaculture business?
Shellfish metabolism and growth are temperature-dependent, and within the critical biological boundaries for each species, warmer temperatures generally mean faster growth. By finding areas along the coast that meet with the optimum temperature profiles, shellfish growers can increase their chances of locating a productive site. Of course, many other factors will come into play when considering a farm site, but temperature is an important piece of the overall puzzle.

HOW can I access temperature data?
The principal contacts for Marine Resources are:

For Western Maine, Kittery to the St. George River:

Alison Sirois

Maine Dept. of Marine Resources
PO Box 8, McKown Point Road

West Boothbay, ME 04575

Fax: 207.633.9579

for Eastern Maine, St. George River to Eastport:

Meggan Dwyer
Maine Dept. of Marine Resources
22 Coaling Station Lane
Lamoine, ME 04605

When you make your request, please specify two things:
1. The area of the Maine coast that you would like shoreline temperatures for,
2. The timeframe that you would like your search to encompass. 

Example: "I would like to know the average temperatures for all sampling stations in Bay X, for all months over the last two years."

In some cases, data can be given as an average of several years, and you'll need to specify that as well.
The principal contacts at the Maine Dept. of Marine Resources for these data are:

WHAT will the information look like?
DMR will send you two types of information. You will receive a map of the area you requested, with the sampling stations labeled. Accompanying that will be a table of temperatures for the different stations, over the period of time requested.  By examining the trends for the locations you are interested in, you will see if the temperatures can support the kind of shellfish you want to grow.

Below: a map that shows stations in a given area - in this case, the upper Sheepscot River.

Below is a table of the temperature data from some of the stations listed above, for just a few months. A table like this could be constructed for all months of the year.

What other things do I need to consider when searching for a potential location for my aquaculture business?
Site selection is a critical decision for a prospective aquaculturist, and there is no substitute for thoroughness in this step.  A detailed page on site selection is in development, but for the present, a brief list of important considerations is given below.

- Find out what the water quality issues are for that area. For example: what is the current shellfish classification (are there any restrictions to harvest at any time of the year) and how often does “red tide” affect this location? These answers can be found by contacting the Maine DMR Public Health Division online at, or calling for more information at 207.633.9500.
- What is the exposure to heavy winds, waves and other weather events, such as ice formation?
- Consider the cology of the area: potential predators, commercially important species, sensitive species (i.e. eelgrass), etc
- What is the ease of access to the site?
- Evaluate the competing uses in the area, both recreational (such as sailing or fishing) or commercial (such as lobstering), as well as the presence of nearby docks, wharves, or moorings.
- What is the bottom structure like, either for supporting bottom-sown shellfish or bottom cages, or for supporting appropriate anchoring systems?

Site selection will also be aided by refer also to the Permitting and Regulation page, at: