Located in the small town of Walpole, 60 miles northeast of Portland and 100 miles south of the University's Orono campus, the Darling Marine Center (DMC) functions year round as a research and educational facility serving the marine interests of faculty, staff, students, and visiting investigators from around the world.
The Darling Marine Center was founded in 1965 upon the donation of a 127-acre farm by Ira C. Darling, a retired Chicago insurance executive, to the University of Maine with the purpose of establishing a marine laboratory. Today the Center occupies 170 acres of largely wooded property with 2 km. of pristine water frontage on the Damariscotta River estuary. The DMC has a year-round population of about 50 people, including faculty, staff, and students. In the summer our population can swell to over one hundred with undergraduate interns, course participants and visiting scientists.
The DMC is closely associated with the University's School of Marine Sciences (SMS) on the Orono campus. Twelve faculty from the School of Marine Sciences are in residence at the DMC:
- Dr. Damian Brady
- Annette deCharon
- Dr. Kevin Eckelbarger
- Dr. Lewis Incze
- Dr. Pete Jumars
- Dr. Larry Mayer
- Dr. Mary Jane Perry
- Dr. Warren Riess
- Dr. Bob Steneck
- Dr. Rick Wahle
- Dr. Rhian Waller
- Dr. Les Watling
These faculty, along with their post docs, technicians and students conduct field and laboratory research encompassing a broad range of marine science disciplines ranging from biogeochemistry and optical oceanography, to marine archaeology, invertebrate zoology and ecology, lobster fishery research, and deep-sea biology. Throughout the year, many other SMS faculty and students use the Center's facilities on a part-time or seasonal basis to study oysters, sea urchins, shellfish physiology, macroalgal physiology, and invertebrate ecology.
The DMC is home to the Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence - Ocean Systems COSEE-OS offices where Annette deCharon and a team of researchers and education specialists from the University of Maine (UMaine), University of New Hampshire (UNH), and Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences are creating and evaluating a series of interconnected tools and techniques to broaden understanding of oceans in the context of the earth and solar systems.
DMC research facilities include two flowing seawater laboratories, a fleet of small boats and SCUBA support. Our modern wet labs offer general use aquaria space, seawater temperature control between 4-30ºC, walk-in environmental chambers, an algal culture facility and quarantine space for non-native species. The 42' R/V Ira C. is a stable platform for research or class trips. It is equipped with an eleven foot articulating A-frame, extensive sampling gear, and can carry up to 24 students. To promote underwater research, the DMC follows AAUS standards and recognizes reciprocity between AAUS member organizations. We provide scientific diver training, maintain a cascade system for filling SCUBA tanks and have a full-time dive safety officer on site. Classrooms, meeting space, housing and meal service round out our services, and allow us to host scientific meetings and educational programs for up to 60 people. Our professional support staff can provide assistance with specimen collection, equipment use, laboratory setup and conference logistics.
The Damariscotta River estuary is a tide dominated embayment. The DMC is located half-way between the open waters of the Gulf of Maine and the upper reaches of the river. Local marine environments include rocky shores, sandy beaches, mud flats, sea grass beds and expansive sponge communities. High organic production in the Gulf of Maine supports a diversity of benthic and pelagic species. The Damariscotta River is one of several local estuaries that provide a gradient of environments varying in fresh water input, with resultant changes in types and quantities of organic production and consequent changes in biogeographic zonation. The complexity of the Maine coastline allows for a wide range of exposure to waves and ice, further adding to the diversity of habitats. Sea temperatures range from 2 to 15 ºC in the open ocean and from -2 to 20 ºC in the upper reaches of the estuary. Salinity at the Center's dock averages 30 ppt, but ranges from 28 to 32 ppt.
The University of Maine's Darling Marine Center is part of the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry and Agriculture. Faculty at the Center are members of the University's School of Marine Sciences. The Darling Marine Center is a member of the National Association of Marine Laboratories and the New England Association of Marine and Great Lakes Laboratories.
University of Maine's Non-Discrimination Notice
In complying with the letter and spirit of applicable laws and pursuing its own goals of diversity, the University of Maine shall not discriminate on the grounds of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, including transgender status or gender expression, national origin, citizenship status, age, disability, or veteran's status in employment, education, and all other areas of the University System. The University provides reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities upon request.
Questions and complaints about discrimination in any area of the University should be directed to the Director of Equal Opportunity, the University of Maine 5754 North Stevens Hall, Room 101, Orono, ME 04469-5754, telephone (207) 581-1226, TTY (207)581-9484.