Just the Mussel Guy

What is a doctor of marine biology doing farming mussels on the coast of Maine?

Carter Newell moved to Maine over 30 years ago and spent time studying mussels as well as other marine life through various programs in the area, but he’s not the kind of person to sit around inside a research lab for long. He discovered while working at Great Eastern Mussel Farms that he really needed to be on the boat, that “the ultimate quality control is being right on the farm itself.” He’s also not adverse to manual labor and enjoys simply being out on the water.

Today Newell is one of the owner/operators of Pemaquid Mussels in Damariscotta. “This is a good place for job creation,” he says. “You can create your own job. It [just] takes a little figuring out to get it to work.”The job is a multifaceted one due to Newell’s inquisitive mind and his never-ending desire to improve the workings of his business. He has researched optimal conditions for growing mussels and is constantly thinking up new strategies to make his company more efficient such as setting up a system for processing and bagging the mussels directly on the boat. This means the mussels can be taken directly to restaurants as well as to wholesalers. It is here where Newell’s social networking skills contribute to the strength of the business.

Newell is an outgoing person and also active in community life. He plays fiddle in a band and also enjoys playing music with his wife and four children. Aside from the mussel farming, Newell also supports himself and his family through an oyster farming business and by offering his consultation and extensive scientific research to other companies wishing to improve their mussel production. Newell says he sometimes feels like he lives a kind of double life. He may be Dr. Newell to his research associates, but to the fishermen of Damariscotta he’s just the “Mussel Guy.”



Produced for: Salt Institute for Documentary Studies

Photos/Audio/Editing: Casey Atkins

Music: Carter Newell

Project Goals: Produce a documentary project on a story found in Maine over the course of a semester.