The University of New England’s Arthur P. Girard Marine Science Center (MSC) is UNE’s Center of Excellence in the Marine Sciences. The MSC affords faculty, students and researchers opportunities to create new knowledge in the marine sciences, marine ecosystems, conservation, sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, and marine sustainability, law, policy and management.  

The center’s unique location serves as the focus for research our students conduct off the coast of our beautiful ocean-side campus in southern Maine, just 90 miles north of Boston. The center considers Maine its unique “living laboratory.”

Our facilities contain innovative Marine Learning Laboratories that involve students, faculty and researchers in “Ocean Clusters” that prepare UNE graduates for the full range of coastal careers. Students learn from professors, from visiting thought-leaders, and from one another, but most of all from working as young marine scientists and marine entrepreneurs.   

Undergraduates participate in the Ocean Clusters to earn credit for class, through internships, and through federal and UNE institutional work study programs. Current Ocean Clusters include:

Subtidal Mesocosm Replicating Saco Bay

We are building and maintaining a subtidal mesocosm replicating the Saco Bay. This model ecosystem allows us to investigate the ecology of the bay in all seasons. 

Green Crab Biology and Management

We are studying the invasive green crab, and developing new traps to limit the damage the crab does to Maine’s soft shell clam fishery. 

Sturgeon Aquaculture Fisheries Ecosystem Restoration

We will capture wild male and female sturgeon from the Saco Bay and estuary, and will acclimatize them to a tank in the Arthur P. Girard Marine Science Center. Ultimately, we hope to reproduce them in captivity. 

Spiny Dogfish Sustainable Aquaculture and Fisheries

We are analyzing contaminants in this fish, and will soon begin exploring the fish as a potential source of innovative marine byproducts.  

Steelhead Aquaculture

We are developing innovative seawater steelhead aquaculture approaches, and working to grow out the fish for use on campus as food. 


We are culturing phytoplankton and seaweeds to serve as the primary food sources of the shellfish in the MSC, and working to build new partnerships with companies and institutions in Maine’s growing seaweed and shellfish industries. 

The Effects of Pollution on Local Fish

We are studying various locally available fish to investigate whether their behaviors are affected by the pollutants in our current environment.   

Aquaponics Ecosystem Using Fish for Plant Nutrients

We are constructing an aquaponics ecosystem that will grow leafy greens (freshwater) or seaweeds (saltwater) using fish to fertilize the water.