Community invited for coffee talk about oysters with DMC director

The public is invited to join Heather Leslie, director of the University of Maine Darling Marine Center, for coffee and a chat about the past, present and future of Maine’s oyster industry at 10 a.m. June 16 in Brooke Hall.

The hour-long event is to celebrate the Damariscotta River oyster industry, its longtime connection to the DMC and continuing collaborations between growers and scientists. People interested in attending are asked to register online for the free event.

Maine’s oyster aquaculture industry was spawned, literally, at the DMC. In the early 1970s, the DMC’s first flowing seawater laboratory was built and researchers received a substantial award from Maine Sea Grant to develop cold water marine aquaculture.

Graduate students and research technicians working on those early projects eventually founded the businesses that now produce nationally lauded shellfish. Seven of the nine farms along the Damariscotta River have ties to the center.

Scientists and shellfish farmers continue to work together to solve today’s challenges. Leslie, an ecologist with strong interest in connections between ocean ecosystems and local economies, will highlight how she and other DMC scientists are growing understanding of how coastal ecosystems work, as well as ways that individuals and communities are adapting to changing environmental and economic conditions.

Leslie also will reflect on how the DMC’s partnerships with the aquaculture industry and other marine businesses create opportunities for the next generation of marine scientists and professionals.

This event is part of the Damariscotta Oyster Celebration, a three-day culinary event showcasing oysters and growers of the Damariscotta River. In recognition of the importance of science in supporting sustainable aquaculture on the river — particularly the foundational role of research conducted through the DMC — organizers will donate 10 percent of their proceeds from the Taste Maine’s Future dinner Friday, June 15 to the Darling Marine Center.