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  • MLCA

New Research Facility Expands Island Center's Research

Hurricane Island Center for Science and Leadership, a nonprofit focused on scientific education and applied research, recently began work on a $1 million field research station on its main campus on Hurricane Island, off Vinalhaven. The new building should be open to researchers and students by next summer. The new facility will feature a flowing seawater lab, a dry lab, and teaching areas.

Student's studies take shape from the marine environment of the island. HICSL photo

Fundraising began in the fall of 2019 when an anonymous donor proposed a $250,000 match challenge to be met within three months. The Center exceeded the challenge by $50,000 and began the planning process for the building in January 2020.

The Center was established in 2009 on the former Hurricane Island Outward Bound property. Its mission is to offer hands-on science curriculum for students of all ages through exploration and connection with the natural world. The student facilities include a fully equipped lab, classroom and student space, a large mess hall, a boathouse and dock, and housing for up to 80 people.

Sustainability is a cornerstone of the Center. Electricity is supplied by a 24-panel solar energy system, which charges a 24-volt battery bank. Water is gravity-fed from the island’s quarry, hot showers are solar-heated, and the toilets are composting Clivus Multrums.

Participants come from throughout the country to the island. HICSL photo.

Hurricane Island students are already involved in significant research work through the Center’s 3-acre aquaculture site. Current research includes a scallop tagging study which began last year in collaboration with the Department of Marine Resources (DMR). Scallops were tagged and released into the Lower Penobscot Bay rotational management area; other scallops were suspended in lantern nets on the island’s aquaculture site to study growth, tag retention, and mortality. If the released scallops are later caught by fishermen, the tag number, catch location, and shells are returned to the Center, which will provide data on growth area and help identify additional sites for closure and enhancement.


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