2014-06-06 / Community

Marine science boat donated

Marine Science students at Southern Maine Community College will soon have a new tool that will expand hands-on research on Casco Bay. The Friends of Casco Bay marine stewardship organization recently donated a 26-foot vessel previously used by the group’s environmental steward.

The donated boat has a cabin and a 225-horsepower outboard engine, and is equipped with an electronic navigation system, an inflatable life raft, a fish finder, a marine VHS radio and a winch.

Students in SMCC’s marine science program will begin using the boat this fall to research environmental conditions and currents in Casco Bay, track marine life and operate a robotic submarine that explores the ocean bottom. The boat will be put in the ocean this summer and kept on a mooring near the SMCC pier.

The vessel is faster than the boat currently used by SMCC’s Marine Science program, which is owned by Professor Brian Tarbox.

“Because of the speed of the new boat, we’ll be able to cover more ocean area when we’re conducting sonar surveys or water quality tests,” Tarbox said. “This will enhance our program and allow students to expand their ocean research experience.”

Friends of Casco Bay turned to SMCC when it decided to donate the boat, which was used for 18 years by the Casco Bay baykeeper, who serves as an environmental watchdog over the bay. It was a natural fit because the group’s offices are on the SMCC campus and the organization and the college have a long-standing relationship, said Executive Director Cathy Ramsdell.

Joe Payne, longtime baykeeper, and Friends of Casco Bay Research Associate Mike Doan are both SMCC graduates, Ramsdell said.

“We’re thrilled that SMCC will find good use for this boat,” she said. “It means even more because two of our key staff members are alumni of the college’s Marine Science program.”

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