Local Habitats

The Damariscotta River estuary is a tidal dominated embayment with a 9.5 ft. tide range. The DMC is located half-way between the open waters of the Gulf of Maine and the upper reaches of the river where it turns into Great Salt Bay. Local marine environments include rocky shores, sandy beaches, mud flats, and small sea grass beds. High organic production in the Gulf of Maine supports a diversity of benthic and pelagic species. The Damariscotta River is one of several local estuaries that provide a gradient of environments varying in fresh water input, with resultant changes in types and quantities of organic production and consequent changes in biogeographic zonation. The complexity of the Maine coastline allows for a wide range of exposure to waves and ice, further adding to the diversity of habitats. River shorelines are protected from wind and waves compared to the outer coast. Rocky shores are generally covered with rockweed in the rocky intertidal with the shoreline descending to a mostly soft bottom beginning at 30 ft. of depth. Deeper areas of the river reach to 120ft.  in some locations. Sea temperatures range from 2 to 15 ºC at the open ocean and from -2 to 20ºC in the upper reaches of the estuary. Salinity at the Center’s dock averages 30 ppt, but ranges from 28 to 32 ppt. Salinity far upriver is in the mid to upper 20 ppt and can be 13-15 ppt in the upper Great Salt Bay area.