Arthur Girard stands in front of the new marine research vessel, Sharkology, after christening the boat at the UNE boat docks. Girard, a donor toward the new vessel, was among several people who spoke during the ceremony. RYDER SCHUMACHER/Journal Tribune

Arthur Girard stands in front of the new marine research vessel, Sharkology, after christening the boat at the UNE boat docks. Girard, a donor toward the new vessel, was among several people who spoke during the ceremony. RYDER SCHUMACHER/Journal Tribune

BIDDEFORD — The University of New England has added a new vessel to its marine research fleet.

School Administrators gathered at the UNE boat dock Friday morning for discussion and the christening of the new 35-foot 350 Marlin FM, called Sharkology.

The new vessel will provide students a platform to observe and study sharks, whales, tuna and other high profile or threatened species in the Gulf of Maine.

“The addition of the Sharkology vessel allows our students to study what has widely been known these days, the ocean changes,” said UNE professor and Chair of the Marine Biology Department Barry Costa-Pierce. “Our students are gazing into the bright blue ocean watching ocean changes as they occur in real time.”

With the increase in harbor seal populations in Maine’s gulf, Costa-Pierce said there are reports of large ocean predators coming into the ocean region.

“The Gulf of Maine right now has an estimated 100,000 harbor seals. We have reports of orcas, coming into the Gulf of Maine. With these large prey here now, we also have reports of large sharks coming into our jurisdiction, and with this gift our students can be involved in all of that marine science research,” Costa-Pierce said.

Purchase of Sharkology was made possible by a generous donation from Portland Real Estate Developer Arthur Girard and the Girard family.

In a speech, newly inaugurated UNE President James Herbert summarized one of the initial test runs on the Sharkology.

“Last weekend I had the pleasure of going out on the boat with professors and students to tag blue sharks out in the Gulf of Maine,” Herbert said. “The boat is amazing. It’s perfectly designed for the type of work that they do. … Art (Arthur), on the behalf of the University of New England, we cannot thank you enough.”

Girard wrapped up the christening of the vessel with a short but poignant statement.

“I never finished high school, and to see my name on a university, that’s pretty special,” Girard said. “Thank you all, and I think we can go a lot further.”

The addition of Sharkology brings UNE’s marine research fleet to three vessels, with a fourth coming soon.

— Staff Writer Ryder Schumacher can be reached at 282-1535, or via email at [email protected]


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