Cobscook Students Travel Maine To Learn About Kelp Aquaculture

Students from the Cobscook Experiential Program just got back from a week-long expedition through Maine to study kelp aquaculture, as they gear up to help with a demonstration kelp farm with the Passamaquoddy Tribe in Passamaquoddy Bay.

The Cobscook Experiential Program for High School Students offers up to four learning expeditions a year. Their October trip tied into their science class, and this year they are using kelp aquaculture to learn about water chemistry. The goal of this trip was to make connections between chemistry content and business research and education opportunities across the state. This included visiting university research facilities and local businesses. 

At the University of New England, students spoke with Adam St. Gelais about the technical aspects of establishing a kelp nursery and they plan to create their own kelp nursery in the classroom. Researchers at UNE are working to cut costs and make kelp farming more accessible. Gus Look, a junior at Cobscook, said, “My favorite place to visit was the University of New England. I enjoyed how open they were with giving a tour of their aquaculture facilities, and sharing potential college opportunities with me.”

The students also talked with Luz Mary Kogson Hurtado from the Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research, who demonstrated how they monitor for water quality to make sure that water is clean and safe for fish. They also learned about animal husbandry related to aquaculture and got to participate in their daily rounds of checking and feeding the fish. Junior Monique Sockabasin said, “My favorite visit was to CCAR, where we got to feed the yellowtail fish.”

The students also visited the Darling Marine Center, where they talked with Lili Pough about the role of remote sensors in aquaculture. They got to experiment with coding and building circuits with breadboards, demonstrating how remote sensors work. Jacob Locke, a junior, said, “I really liked visiting the Darling Marine Center. It inspired me to get into electrical engineering and water quality monitoring”.

At Ocean Approved, the students talked with president Paul Dobbins about kelp farming. He demonstrated how baby kelp are deployed on lines, called seed spools, and how systems like this are making kelp farming more affordable and accessible. Students were also engaged in a discussion about aspects of running a kelp farm business, and how kelp can be used in commercial food production. Kelp farms not only represent a huge economic opportunity in Maine, but also have the potential to help with nutrient loading around salmon pens, lower carbon dioxide, and buffer waves along the shore. 

The Cobscook Experiential Program for High School Students is a program of Calais High School offered at the Cobscook Community Learning Center, and is open to students in eastern Washington County. Cobscook is accepting applications for the second semester of the 2016-17 school year. Those interested in more information can visit www.cobscook.me or call 207-733-2233.