CALAIS, Maine — Thirteen students from Princeton to Pleasant Point were able to dive into the marine ecosystem of Maine’s coast at a recent program held at Washington County Community College.
The weeklong Marine Biology and Science Camp was taught by Dr. Wesley “Doc” Hedlund as part of the college’s summer program offerings. Hedlund is the husband of college President Joyce Hedlund.
Stephanie Allard of Perry assisted with the course.
“Dr. Hedlund said this is kind of the best place because everything we need to do and the things we need to see are right here in Washington County,” Darin McGaw, WCCC dean of community education, said after the course. “Whereas, when he ran it in the Bangor area, he had to travel to Bar Harbor and Schoodic Point to get the same thing.”
McGaw said he envisioned that courses of a similar nature would be offered next summer. “And maybe do one for adults,” he said. “It was more than a camp; we are going to start calling it an institute because the kids did a lot more than just summer camp activities.”
The students spent 45 hours in and on the water. The first day, the students were taken to the St Croix International Historic Site in Red Beach and some became junior rangers under the auspices of the National Park Service.
The project included in-classroom and laboratory work with microscopes and slide observations.
“The students collected some samples and tested samples and also did some field work at Freidman Lab at Suffolk University Field Station in Edmunds,” he said. There also was a trip to the U.S. Coast Guard Station in Eastport where the students were taken out on the water on the USCG’s new 45-foot boat, as well as the college’s 38-foot boat.
The students also traveled to Great Wass Island and the Downeast Institute for Applied Research and Education, as well as the Heritage Center in Calais. They studied the life cycles and aquaculture of lobsters, soft-shell and hard-shell clams, snorkeled around tide pools and used the center’s touch tank.
McGaw said he spoke with some of the students afterward and they were excited about the experience.
“We have done camps in the summer, but in my time this has been the most successful summer camp we have done. So we want to expand and repeat it,” he said.
The college plans to advertise as early as December about next year’s program. Information will be sent to area schools from Steuben to Danforth about the camp and ads will be placed in local newspapers, McGaw said.