The Gulf of Maine is historically known for its cold waters, featuring high biodiversity and a rich history of productive fishing grounds. Climate change is having a particular impact on the Gulf as it is warming faster than most of the world’s oceans. As water temperatures in the Gulf of Maine warm, species are impacted. For some, the conditions are becoming too warm and their suitable geographic range is shrinking. For other species, the warming provides an opportunity to expand their habitat into an area that was previously too cold. Because of the complex food web in the marine ecosystem, these impacts can ripple out to other species as their food sources are affected. Warming waters cause other effects in the Gulf of Maine, including ocean acidification, extreme weather events, and sea level rise.
Our newly renovated Our Dynamic Gulf of Maine exhibition helps visitors understand the urgency and hope of this unique, highly productive, and rapidly changing ecosystem. The Gulf’s beauty shines in each tank, with species whose story exemplify the key messages we aim to convey. The Lobster Trap teaching station (pun intended), allows for hands-on lobster interaction and one-on-one conversations with a Center naturalist about the changes in the Gulf of Maine, including the northward migration of the lobsters due to their need for colder waters.
- Other topics addressed in this exhibition include:
- Gulf Stream Orphans: wayward tropical species that become stranded in the Gulf of Maine.
- Invasive Species: non-native species like green crabs are wreaking havoc in the local ecosystem.
- Hope Spots: sea life is flourishing in places like Cashes Ledge and the protected Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument.
- Academic Research: University of New Hampshire researchers are finding solutions for sustainable aquaculture practices.
- Personal Reflection: visitors are offered a space to ponder questions raised in this exhibition, reflect on what the Gulf of Maine means to them, and think about how they can better help protect and preserve this natural resource.
We are excited to share this new space with you, engage in important conversations about climate change and our need to take action, and hopefully evoke new appreciation for this place that is so central to our way of life here on the New Hampshire seacoast and beyond.
Special thanks go to our Corporate & Nonprofit Partners: Davis Conservation Foundation, Partners Bank, and UNH Sea Grant; and In-Kind Partners: Gaia Live, GetMaineLobster.com, Portsmouth Quality Flooring, and Winter Holben Architecture + Design for their contributions. Special thanks also go to the individuals and the SSC Board of Directors, who generously supported this project.