DownEast Acadia is a region full of vast wilderness areas that border on the unspoiled expanse of the Gulf of Maine. This is a place where wildlife can thrive, deep in their own habitat and even close by human activity, given Maine’s strong ethic of wildland and wildlife protection.
Take an Ocean Excursion
Head out to the bays and Gulf of Maine, where playful harbor porpoise pop their heads above the surface. Spot harbor seals sunning on ledges alongside cormorants and gulls. A trip to the outer islands reveals the summer home of the iconic Atlantic puffin. Explore ocean ecology at the Downeast Institute in Beals or visit the Discovery Wharf at the Center for Coastal Fisheries in Stonington to get a hands-on look at the world below the waves.
Spot Birds and Wildlife from Shore and Forest
On shore you’ll spot harlequin ducks making their way across harbors, herons swoop over marshes, osprey and bald eagle hunt overhead. As part of the Atlantic Flyway, you’ll find myriad birds in Roque Bluffs State Park or the Maine Coastal Islands Wildlife Refuge.
Watch closely as you drive along roads for deer or moose, especially The Airline, Route 9. The Downeast Lakes Community Forest, Downeast Lakes Water Trail, and Moosehorn Wildlife Refuge offer excellent habitat for wildlife like black bear, bobcat, and beaver. Please never feed any wildlife and give them plenty of space to go about their business.
The Future of Our Fishy Friends
Learn about the miraculous life cycle of sea-run Atlantic salmon at the Craig Brook National Fish Hatchery in Orland. Grand Lake Stream State Fish Hatchery rears 80,000 landlocked salmon and brook trout annually. Visit The Green Lake National Fish Hatchery in Ellsworth, for a look at a large-scale cold water hatchery in action.
For a true Maine wilderness experience, you can head inland for hiking, paddling a canoe or kayak, on a scenic drive, or by pontoon boat to see a moose—Maine’s official state animal. Weighing over 1,000 pounds, with antlers reaching five feet across, they are majestic animals, most active at sunrise and sunset. You might even see a moose along the roads, nibbling the vegetation!