February 2021 Newsletter

President’s Letter 

With a new year comes new beginnings. I feel blessed to be the President of GOMMEA at this bizarre time. I am, like so many of us, overwhelmed with day-to-day details as well as with the conversations that are happening on a societal level. Somewhere in between those extremes, my commitment to GOMMEA serves to illuminate the support, inspiration, and hope that this network provides for me. Our volunteer board has pulled together a newsletter that is informative, eye-catching, supportive, and inspiring – kind of like our popular Ocean Sunfish Paper Wreath Activity that nearly went viral on social media in December (reaching over 8,500 people!). 

Highlights include follow ups from Underwater in the Gulf of Maine with Andy Martinez, our member highlight, and upcoming events. There is so much natural beauty in our region and so much wonderful work being done – we hope you find this newsletter an enriching part of your day! Please reach out to any of us with stories, events, or connections that you’d like to share with our GOMMEA community.

Kindest regards and best for you and yours in 2021.

Deb Debiegun

Wildlife Photography in the Gulf of Maine Watershed

By: Ron Watson
A wildlife photographer’s paradise. That is how I would categorize the Gulf of Maine (GOM) watershed. This nutrient rich 69,000 sq. mile area, historically has been considered to be one of the most biodiverse and productive habitats in the Atlantic…Keep Reading

👉 WIldlife Photography in the Gulf of Maine Watershed

Tips for Photography Underwater

By: Andy Martinez

Read Andy’s favorite tips for underwater photography, along with some great places to photograph marine life underwater in the Gulf of Maine.

👉 Tips for Photography Underwater

Creature Feature: Lumpfish!
Applications for Sustainable Practices in Aquaculture

By: Mike Doherty

Lumpfish, Cyclopterus americanus, are a unique and interesting fish found here in the north Atlantic. While it is not exactly sought after for its meat, lumpfish have recently entered the spotlight in the aquaculture industry…Keep Reading

👉 Creature Feature: Lumpfish

Business Member Spotlight: Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean

By: Deb Debiegun

The Rozalia Project reaches youth at ports visited by SV American Promise while educators, reporters, and artists on board document marine debris collection efforts of crew and student groups as well. Students are encouraged to reflect on marine debris that they have seen and foster their wildest ideas for solutions. By fostering the engineering process and shining a spotlight on the problem of marine debris, the Rozalia Project gives hope that our youth will come up with solutions for tomorrow.

Executive Director Ashley Sullivan writes that “Marine debris is a problem that affects coastal communities first and each of us has the power to have positive impact through our behaviors. The Rozalia Project seeks opportunities to work with the future change makers of tomorrow, educators and organizations throughout the Gulf of Maine to share our knowledge, our data and engage learners to work on solutions for healthier oceans. Please reach out to us to learn more about our current projects, we love to talk all things ocean!” 

👉 Rozalia Project Web Site
👉 Become a Business Member


Members, submit your events here

February 1-March 31: Recycle Regatta, presented by Educational Passages, New England Science and Sailing and the North American Marine Environment Protection Association. More info

February 11, 6:00 PM: Virtual Ocean Trivia, presented by Seacoast Science Center. More info

February 25, 6:00 PM: Virtual Ocean Trivia, presented by Seacoast Science Center. More info

February 25: 6:30 PM: Marine Debris in the Gulf of Maine: Virtual Evening Program, presented by Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation. More info

March 11, 6:00 PM: Virtual Ocean Trivia, presented by Seacoast Science Center. More info

March 25, 4:00-5:30 PM: Teach About Microplastics! Workshop, offered by Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation. More info

March 25, 6:00 PM: Virtual Ocean Trivia, presented by Seacoast Science Center. More info

March 25: 6:30 PM: Action for the Ocean: Virtual Evening Program, presented by Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation. More info

Also be sure to check out the NMEA Ocean at Home Calendar – Listing of virtual and scheduled events from around the country related to marine or aquatic sciences. Click here if you have an event you’d like us to share in our next newsletter.

Connect With Us

  • Consider joining the board – Each year at our annual meeting, we vote on new board members. Board members are responsible for attending regular meetings (currently monthly), steering GOMMEA’s programs and providing financial and strategic oversight. You must be a current GOMMEA member to join the board. We are also looking for a new Treasurer. For more information on board membership, email us!
  • Visit www.gommea.org for up to date links and resources
  • Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
  • Questions? Email info@gommea.org  

GOMMEA Annual Meeting 2020

November 5, 2020
If you missed the GOMMEA Annual Meeting on October 23, or if the narrated photographic tour of Underwater in the Gulf of Maine was just that good that you want to see it again (it is!), you can watch it on the GOMMEA website!

Click here to watch Andrew Martinez’ presentation. Many thanks to Andy for speaking with us and for allowing post-event viewing for our members!

This year at our Annual Meeting our members approved a new slate of Board of Directors, which marked the end of board service for several board members, thanked here in alphabetical order:
  • Sara Ellis has been GOMMEA’s Treasurer for many terms; her organization, clarity, and follow-through will be missed, as will her laughter, joie-de-vie, and level headedness.
  • Katie Flavin’s tireless efforts to support GOMMEA events at GMRI will be remembered.
  • Elissa Koskela, who was one of the Co-Chairs for the NMEA 2019 Conference, also served as GOMMEA’s Secretary. We will miss her abilities to see details in the larger context, to find details in notes from past meetings, and to summarize complex discussions succinctly!
  • Lili (Annelise) Pugh’s contributions have been thoughtful and sincere, especially regarding improving membership processes and connections.
  • Thank you also to middle school teachers Sunny Sadana and Thom Smith, for the work that they do with students and for their curriculum contributions.
We look forward to staying in touch with all of you. As membership is open to anyone, you will all continue to be part of the GOMMEA network. 

A big thank you to Jen Kennedy for her steady leadership, organization, and listening as President for the past two years. Thank you to our new slate of officers, which includes myself, Deb Debiegun as President, Julie Taylor as President-Elect, Andrea Southworth and Melissa Luetje as Co-Secretaries, Tara Hicks-Johnson as Treasurer. I am excited to work with these officers, as well as other Directors, as we all discuss and steer GOMMEA’s direction together. I am also looking forward to the input of our three new Directors: Jessica AntonezLeia Lowery, and Dari Christenson. Welcome! You can read all the board bios here.

Together, we can connect ourselves and others to the Gulf of Maine. We can support each others’ education, conservation, research, and teaching efforts. We can share our passions to appreciate and care for a healthy Gulf of Maine.

Thank you to all members for your support! 
Thank you to all Board of Directors for all of your time!
Thank you to you for reading this!

Deb Debiegun
GOMMEA President

About the presenter

Underwater in the Gulf of Maine with Andy Martinez

Underwater photographer Andy Martinez has been diving since 1969. He began capturing his views beneath the waves just a couple years later around 1971. “I have always been interested in marine life and learning about the interactions of its plants and animals,” he said. Like many of us, his inspiration came from watching Cousteau specials.

Andy and his wife Candace are closer connected to the Massachusetts Marine Educators as they live in Massachusetts (Candace even served as MME President 1989-91), but recently joined GOMMEA to continue their work in the Gulf of Maine to “inspire young people to the wonders of the region.”

As a marine educator, you have probably picked up Andy’s popular book, Marine Life of the North Atlantic. The idea to make a field guide came during a dive trip to Quebec. He saw how interested the local divers were in marine life and that we did not have one specifically to our region. Andy and a friend originally self-published this book in 1994, but later editions were distributed by other publishers and helped to distribute the book to curious explorers throughout the country, but page limits restricted the content that was included. He and a friend then created an app,📱Marine Life – North Atlantic, so that he could upload hundreds of photos showing animal behaviors such as mating, protecting eggs, defense, and color variations. This provides viewers to better and more accurately identify species in an interactive way as they can receive notifications of plants/animals they hope to see, keep life lists automatically, record what they have seen in their outings or dives, and always have it in their pocket.

In the book and app, you’ll see more about Andy’s favorite animal – the Spiny Lumpsucker. He said that it “is a cool little fish that can be found in many colors. Sometimes while photographing it, it will jump and sit on your camera or arm and watch you. Definitely puts a smile on your face.”

Andy has spent a lot of time underwater, mostly in Cape Ann and the Bay of Fundy region, but around the world too. In the last few years, he says he has been diving in Indonesia and the Philippines. He said “the biological diversity is amazing,” and that “two years ago I was photographing humpback whales and calves in Tonga and that was very exciting to be with an animal so large and yet so graceful.”

But what is the most memorable thing he’s seen underwater in the Gulf of Maine? Andy says that, “It is hard to pick one memorable moment. There are many little moments that may not seem like a big event to some people… Watching a female Jonah Crab’s eggs hatch into larvae, coming upon walls of colorful anemones, watching a male Shanny guard its eggs, photographing a Wolffish pair in its den, or a 20lb lobster jump over me as I was lying on the bottom. But, it could be just a hermit crab going about its business. it is all like watching a full-length nature film every time.” As a diver for over 3 decades, Andy has observed a lot of change too. He noted that “fish like Scuplins and Goosefish, but also shrimp that once were common are not as common anymore. In Maine, Basket Stars and Strawberry Soft Coral were everywhere, but not now. Anemone numbers are down also.”

Want to start diving to see these creatures yourselves but not sure where to start? Andy recommends visiting your nearby dive shop – Aqua Diving Academy in ME, Atlantic Aquasport in NH, Undersea Divers in MA to name a few.

To read more about Andy and his work, please visit andrewjmartinez.com 

GOMMEA February Event: Climate Fiction for Climate Change Education

Climate Fiction for Climate Change Education will he held in Yarmouth, Maine on Monday, Feb 24th at 6:00 PM (weather date Tuesday, Feb 25th). Cost: FREE!


Join GOMMEA for an evening with Yarmouth’s very own author Charlene D’Avanzo, who dedicates her series to scientists struggling to understand climate change. She will explain how climate fiction helps readers understand the science and politics behind the imminent climate crisis. D’Avanzo describes her journey from marine ecologist and college professor to author of the Maine Oceanographer Mara Tusconi mystery series. Click here to read more about Charlene’s story. 

Tea and cocoa will be provided. Yarmouth Community House, 179 East Main Street. Cost is FREE, but registration is required. Click here to register.   

Modeling Change Event

GOMMEA’s next event is just around the corner on Monday, December 9th, 5:30-7:00pm at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. “Modeling Change,” the Cohen Center’s newest LabVenture program, will be shared in a free, private event. We are pleased to share this opportunity with the Maine Environmental Education Association (MEEA). Together we are making a difference throughout the state and the Gulf of Maine!

Our December 9th event is free, but not open to the public; you must pre-register here.

From Gulf of Maine Research Institute and LabVenture: 

Over the last decade, our LabVenture program has provided hands-on science learning to over 150,000 Maine middle schoolers. During that time, these students’ parents and other adults have always asked, “When can I do LabVenture?!”

For the first time, we’re rolling out a LabVenture experience specifically developed for the public. Modeling Change is a 90-minute exploration of past and future ecosystem change in the Gulf of Maine. Guests will look forward and back at the impacts of ocean warming in our bioregion through the lens of two key species: lobsters and black sea bass.

Ecosystem modeling is a way for us to understand the relationships between species and their environment, and help us to project what the Gulf of Maine will look like in the future. Guests will get to experience the power of this approach first-hand.

In addition to the state-of-the-art technology in our Cohen Center for Interactive Learning, the event will also include a facilitated discussion with our program staff.

GOMMEA Annual Meeting 2019

Join us for our annual meeting that will feature Walt Golet speaking about Tuna on November 14 from 5:30 – 8:00 pm at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute in Portland, Maine. Registration is required and cost is only $35 per person. Registration includes GOMMEA membership through 2020, heavy hors d’oeuvres, 2 drink tickets, and hearing all about the MYSTERIES OF THE MIGRATORS: HOW SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY UNLOCK THE SECRET LIVES OF FISH.

Walt Golet, Ph.D. | Assistant Professor, University of Maine’s School of Marine Sciences | Research Scientist, Gulf of Maine Research Institute

Tunas, billfish and sharks are some of the most fascinating animals on the planet. These creatures are Highly Migratory Species (HMS) which means they cross ocean basins, elevate their internal body temperature, swim to depths in excess of 5,000 feet within minutes and navigate with the precision of a GPS. Walt works with a network of commercial and recreational fishermen that provide him with information on and samples from the fish that they catch. Walt’s lab then analyzes the data to better understand their life history. This information also informs stock assessment models which may reduce uncertainty in their current and future projections.

Mark your calendar for November 14 from 5:30 – 8:00 pm for the 2019 GOMMEA Annual Meeting at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute in Portland, Maine to hear more! Registration is required, see below.


Tickets are required for entry. Registration includes GOMMEA membership through 2020, heavy hors d’oeuvres, 2 drink tickets, and hearing all about the MYSTERIES OF THE MIGRATORS: HOW SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY UNLOCK THE SECRET LIVES OF FISH. 

Cost: $35 per person

To register, please complete your ticket purchase below.

Admission to GOMMEA Annual Meeting on 11/14/19 at GMRI35.00 USDTicket includes admission for one to event and reception, GOMMEA membership through December 31, 2020, heavy hors d’oeuvres, and 2 drink tickets.
Your eTicket will be emailed after payment to your email address.

Annual Meeting 2018 Recap

October 24, 2018 | Bigelow Laboratory | East Boothbay, ME

The Gulf of Maine Marine Education Association (GOMMEA) held its Annual Meeting, “SEAWEED: Physiology & Flavor” in Boothbay Harbor on October 24. Hosted at Bigelow Laboratory, attendees enjoyed the guest presentation by Tollef Olson, President of Ocean’s Balance who showed us his culinary seaweed treats. We tried soup (see Kelp-Infused Roasted Tomato Soup recipe here), smoothies (see Mixed Berry and Kelp Smoothie recipe here), and seaweed sprinkles to name a few. We also enjoyed some appetizers from East Boothbay General Store and assorted local beer donated by Portsmouth Brewery, Foulmouthed Brewing, and Rising Tide.

Throughout the evening, attendees also mingled with exhibitors and student poster presentations while conversations around seaweed aquaculture echoed in the tall ceilings. Thank you to our exhibitors the Boothbay Sea and Science Center, Hurricane Island, and Maine Sea Grant for sharing projects and teacher resources. Thanks also to the University of New England for their student poster presentations!

During our short business meeting, the membership approved the slate of directors which now include new officers. We welcomed new board members Mike Doherty and Thom Smith, and thanked Kate Leavitt as she stepped off. Deb “Mrs Fish” Sandler who was in attendance, made an announcement that GOMMEA is 40 years old this year! As she was the founding President in 1978, she expressed her excitement for the organization’s success to date.

The evening concluded with a keynote presentation, “The Incredible, Edible Kelp: Harvesting the Potential of Seaweed Aquaculture” and conversation lead by Dr. Nichole Price, Senior Research Scientist at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences.


Thank you to all who came!