Herring Gut Learning Center, a marine science and aquaculture school in Port Clyde, has acquired Marshall Point Sea Farm, formerly a commercial shellfish hatchery located on the adjacent lot on Teel Cove in Port Clyde Harbor.

Herring Gut Learning Center, founded in 1999, partners with local public schools to present hands-on science programs for students and teachers. The campus facilities include classroom buildings, a student shellfish hatchery, a finfish hatchery-aquaponic greenhouse, and the historic Thomson House, serving as housing for teachers attending summer workshops.

The Marshall Point Sea Farm property and buildings include a commercial shellfish hatchery, an attached greenhouse and historic bait shack at the edge of the Teel Cove lobster pound. The sea farm was established in 1997 by Tenants Harbor resident Phyllis Wyeth, with a vision that aquaculture held the potential to contribute to the preservation of working waterfronts and the local economy. The sea farm was a state-of-the-art hatchery with a well-deserved reputation for producing high quality shellfish seed.

Herring Gut Learning Center’s origins are rooted in the Marshall Point Sea Farm. Both the sea farm and Herring Gut were born of the idea that as wild fish stocks declined, communities that made their living from the sea needed to develop new, sustainable seafood resources. An aquaculture-based science program was created and students from the St. George School engaged in hands-on science lessons in the Marshall Point Sea Farm. The enthusiasm of the students and the effectiveness of learning in a practical, real-world environment inspired Wyeth to found Herring Gut Learning Center in 1999 and build a student hatchery, where students could learn, explore and experiment outside of the constraints of a commercial business.

At the end of 2009, after 12 years of creative entrepreneurship, hard work, and many challenges, Wyeth retired from the aquaculture business. The Marshall Point Sea Farm is now a part of Herring Gut Learning Center’s campus with a goal of it becoming a research center linking area public school students with marine biology, aquaculture and fisheries college students from programs in Maine and New England.

Space in the Marshall Point Sea Farm not used for hatchery operations is currently leased to the Midcoast Fishermen’s Cooperative business known as Port Clyde Fresh Catch, serving as its processing facility and one of its retail distribution sites.

The presence of the fishermen on the Herring Gut campus offers a unique opportunity for Herring Gut students and teachers to learn about MFC’s unique approach to sustainable fisheries. The MFC’s mission is grounded in ecologically and financially sustainable fishing practices, developing innovative ways to market seafood and promoting public awareness about the historic and economic value of Maine’s fishing communities.

In addition to school year academic programs in partnership with local public schools, professional development opportunities for Maine teachers, Herring Gut also offers marine science summer camps for children ages 5 to 13 and community outreach programs.