Discover Maine’s Underwater World!
Maine’s coast offers many opportunities to get up close and personal with a variety of sea life. To keep it simple, a walk on the beach and an exploration of tide pools will turn up crabs, sea snails and anemones.
A visit to the Maine State Aquarium offers more options. Located on the water in West Boothbay Harbor, Maine, the aquarium is operated by the Maine Department of Marine Resources. The main gallery resembles the rocky coast of Maine. A collection of regional fish and invertebrates can be seen hidden within the granite-like cliffs. The aquarium features extraordinary lobsters of all sizes and colors and colorful marine life. A special attraction is the 20 foot long elevated touch tank that houses a multitude of invertebrates. Feel the spiny skin of a sea star or sea urchin and get squirted by a sea cucumber or scallop. Watch the moon snail pull in its enormous “gooey” foot and be fascinated by the sea star retracting its stomach.
To get an even more “real ocean” experience, take a “dive-in” theater cruise. Diver Ed’s Dive-In Theater is a two- or two-and-a-half-hour scenic boat ride out into Frenchman Bay in Acadia National Park, where Diver Ed and his sidekick “Mini Ed” dive down to the ocean floor with specially equipped video and sound equipment, allowing you to see and hear the ocean floor in real time from the comfort of the deck.
At the end of the dive, Ed & Mini Ed return to the boat – and so do the creatures! Touch tanks allow you to observe, handle – and sometimes even kiss – these strange and mysterious beings before they are returned safely to the sea. You will be amazed at the colors, the textures and the variety of animal life beneath the waves.
In Stonington, you can bring your children to the Penobscot East Resource Center. In the permanent public education and exhibit space, children can learn about the Gulf of Maine ecosystem and check the Touch Tank that brings marine life to the Center for all to see. The Downeast Fisheries Center is staffed Sunday through Friday from 10am – 4pm.
Author: Emily Lusher | Edited by Brenda Bonneville