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The Downeast Institute is committed to building on its successful 30-year history to create the easternmost marine research laboratory and education center in the United States.  DEI will offer exceptional research capacity for the scientific community, resulting in economic and educational opportunities for the people of coastal Maine and beyond.

For the 10 years since DEI’s Board of Directors acquired the hatchery facility at Black Duck Cove, our nonprofit organization has produced many varieties of juvenile shellfish, usually millions of them at once, to support applied research, advancements in aquaculture, and public stock enhancement.

Our eight-acre site with associated buildings, located on Great Wass Island in the Washington County town of Beals, is accessible by land and water and includes a 9,000 square foot hatchery, a working pier (built in 2011 with specially designed composite pilings) and two lobster pounds.

Phase I: Completed 2010

The Downeast Institute serves as the Marine Science Field Station for the University of Maine at Machias. One of our primary goals is to provide an educational, conferencing and research facility for use by educators, students, scientists and researchers interested in marine research and education. Our Education Center, with its running seawater, learning laboratory and classroom, was built in 2010 with a grant from the National Science Foundation and several local businesses and organizations.  This facility, along with our rocky shore and working shellfish hatchery, has enabled us to provide ongoing programming to about 6000 K-12 students, college students, educators and learners of all ages since 2011.  Our K-12 programs help students get excited about understanding and protecting our marine environment.


DEI today

Phase II: Breaking ground in 2017!

Soon, DEI will add a fully equipped marine research laboratory to provide opportunities for local fishermen and marine entrepreneurs to test new ideas and experiment with enhancing the value of their harvests. Marine scientists and their students from the University of Maine System and beyond will use the facility for teaching and research – attracted by the productive cold water habitat and extensive twice-daily tides that expose the most expansive flats and rocky shores on the eastern seaboard. In October 2014, DEI received a major gift ($2 million) from the Trustees of the Next Generation Foundation in Blue Hill, Maine.  These "seed" funds have leveraged another $2 million from the State of Maine and Maine Technology Institute, and $1.8 million from the Harold Alfond Foundation needed to complete Phase II: the marine research laboratory, conference area, expanded hatchery capacity, and a housing facility, all serving scientists, businesses and students in one of the last pristine, coldwater marine environments along the east coast of the U.S. 

DEI after Phase II

Phase I and Phase II, which includes the residence hall, were designed by Sealander Architects of Ellsworth.



DEI's Future Residence Hall (courtesy of Sealander Architects) 

 Our residence hall, made possible by a generous $1.8 million gift from the Harold Alfond Foundation will enable us to greatly increase our service to higher education and the scientific community.


Phase 2 detail (courtesy of Sealander Architects)

Phase 2 will include laboratories able to provide a variety of conditions, such as flowing seawater and climate controls, as well as a mezannine that will allow us to isolate algae production.  It will also include a conference room, offices, a large touch tank and other support areas.

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