Spring 2024 Newsletter

Message from the Director

I cannot believe that June is already here! So many seasonal transitions to pay attention to – I always gravitate to the sea run fish migrations – hopefully you were able to make a journey to a nearby river to see the alewife, eels, and shad running! To learn more about Maine Sea Grant’s work in this space, check out this webpage.

Along with environmental transitions, the Maine Sea Grant Team has some changes – we welcome Harsha Elizabeth James, along with newly funded researchers and interns – see more in this newsletter. At the same time, we say goodbye to two team members who are moving on to some exciting new opportunities. Jessica Brunacini, our Coastal Community Resilience Extension Associate has a new job with the Wells National Estuarine Reserve and Bobby MacLeod, our Senior Grants Manager and Fiscal Officer, is taking a new position with the Advanced Composite Center. We wish them the best in their new endeavors and are embracing the opportunity to bring on new team members and support our own team in new and different ways – stay tuned for more! 

Gayle Zydlewski

Program Updates

New Biennial Research Projects

Maine Sea Grant is pleased to announce five new research projects recommended for funding through our competitive biennial research program! Led by scientists from research and education institutions in Maine, the two-year projects will support scientific research focused on offshore wind interactions, the role of microplastics in microbial safety of marine foods, shad and river herring management, and the range expansion of blue crabs. Learn more about the projects. Learn more about the projects here

New Postdoctoral Research Associate 

Maine Sea Grant is excited to announce that Harsha Elizabeth James has joined the team as a postdoctoral research associate! Harsha will be working on the marine debris challenge project, Reducing Marine Debris at the Source: Material Replacement and Source Reduction for Single- Use Food Packaging, which is supported by the NOAA National Sea Grant Program. Meet Harsha Elizabeth here


Fish Response to Dam Removals

Maine Sea Grant’s Justin Stevens worked in partnership with NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center to monitor the impacts of upstream dam removal on the Penobscot Estuary ecosystem. Spoiler, removing dams allows more fish upriver and more fish in the estuary! Read the results of their research here.

Taunton Bay

Partially funded by Maine Sea Grant, the Friends of Taunton Bay  (FTB) created a comprehensive water quality management program developed to protect Taunton Bay’s estuarine environment. In collaboration with Mark Whiting, PhD, Chair, Board of Supervisors for the Hancock County Soil and Water Conservation District, FTB developed a plan to gather information for a baseline water quality assessment. This baseline data provided the necessary information for future monitoring of the Taunton Bay region. Read more about the program here.

Extension and Community Engagement

Meet the MET – Kristen Grant

On this season’s Meet the MET, we’re highlighting Kristen Grant, the Senior Extension Program Manager, Coastal Community Resilience and DEIJA Leader. Meet Kristen here

Mapping Ocean Stories 

Natalie Springuel and Richard MacDonald share about their 1,200 nautical mile paddling expedition along the shores of the Gulf of Maine. Today, they are a married couple, and what they learned then—and what has changed since that journey—reveals how dynamic and threatened this “semi-enclosed sea” is. Read Natalie’s blog here.

An Educators Trip of a Lifetime

Maine Sea Grant’s Keri Kaczor shares her experience serving as our program’s liaison to the Sea Grant Educators Network, in which she was given the opportunity of traveling to Hawai’i to participate and support the “Sea Grant Educator Professional Learning Workshop Exchanges to Cultivate Organizational Excellence.” Read Keri’s blog here.

A Culinary Exchange Between Maine and France Will Support Maine Scallops

Maine Sea Grant’s Dana Morse traveled alongside a group of chefs, seafood professionals, writers, economic development specialists and educators to France in April to explore French techniques for handling and preparing scallops in support of the scallop farming and commercial fishing sectors in Maine. Read about the trip here.

Rising Together in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Maine Sea Grant’s Keri Kaczor was featured in March’s special issue of Oceanography, where she was the lead author on an article showing how Sea Grant supported coastal communities and economies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Collectively, the case studies show how Sea Grant’s deep community connections, history of being a trusted, boots-on-the-ground resource, ability to bring diverse partners together, connections to research, extension, education, and commitment to the long-term challenges, made it uniquely positioned to respond effectively to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more by reading the article here.

Sea Grant Network Contributions to the National Ocean and Coastal Acidification Response

Maine Sea Grant’s Parker Gassett was featured in March’s special issue of Oceanography, where he along with other authors explained the Sea Grant network’s significant contributions to ocean and coastal acidification (OCA) research through partnerships and investments, education and participatory science opportunities, workforce development, translation into aquaculture applications, and policy blueprints. Read the article here.

Education and Workforce Development

Tide to Table: Creative Home Cooking with Maine Seafood 

The Maine Aquaculture Hub is hosting a series of cooking classes designed to introduce you to the diverse array of seafood products available in Maine! Each class will feature a deep dive into a specific category of Maine seafood, with a focus on featuring both products harvested from the wild by fishermen and those grown by farmers. Participants will leave the class with printed resources including recipes, product lists, and local shopping recommendations for sourcing ingredients. Reserve your spot here.

In the News

Maine Department of Education Newsroom covered an event in which Windsor Elementary School educators collaborated with Maine Sea Grant, North Coast Seafoods, and other Maine businesses to bring seaweed to the classroom and cafeteria.

Dana Morse spoke with Penobscot Bay Pilot  about a Maine-led scallop meeting of the Académie Culinaire de France, held at the Institute for Culinary Education, drawing chefs from France, Canada and the U.S.

University of Maine Cooperative Extension and Maine Sea Grant will host a series of in-person workshops for individuals interested in participating in the Signs of the Seasons citizen science project, as announced by the Lewiston Sun Journal.

Annie Fagan discussed Talk of the Towns, a new series of public conversations and media screenings at the Stonington Opera House on issues that bridge, matter to, and unite our area communities, with The Ellsworth American.

Maine Sea Grant, in collaboration with the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, are working together to create an exciting new research campaign, as explained on page 16 of the Garden’s Grow 2024 edition.

A professor and student from Bowdoin College are collaborating with Maine Sea Grant to help investigate the resiliency of rural communities.

Annie Fagan was interviewed by Women in Scottish Aquaculture (WISA) about her career in aquaculture. 

Mark Your Calendars

Tune in to WERU Community Radio ((89.9 FM in Blue Hill and streaming online at WERU.org) from 4:00 to 4:30 PM the fourth Friday of each month for Coastal Conversations, a public affairs program hosted by Marine Extension Associate Natalie Springuel that explores current issues facing Maine’s coastal communities through conversations with people who live, work, and play on our coast. Coastal Conversations is supported by Maine Sea Grant, in partnership with co-hosts at Schoodic Institute and The First Coast. 

Want to Connect?

Maine Sea Grant supports the responsible use and conservation of coastal resources to sustain diverse, thriving coastal communities and ecosystems. Our work requires building partnerships and collaborations with organizations and individuals across the coast and beyond. If you have questions or ideas, or if you’d like to connect, please feel free to reach out to anyone on our team