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The Downeast Institute is committed to building on its successful 29-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 wharf and two lobster pounds.

Phase I Completed

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.  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 Plan

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 will leverage another $3.8 million needed to complete the Phase II construction: the marine research laboratory, 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

A small cove located directly to the north of DEI's shellfish production facility.


Sunset over Western Bay as seen from the Downeast Institute






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