I'm Oliver Dominick, your registered Maine Guide (with Winnie). For over 50 years I've been leading trips in kayaks, canoes and have fly fished, mountaineered, SCUBA dived and photographed. A PhD research neurobiologist and a Life Member of The Explorers Club, I'm also a USCG licensed captain, a FAA certified flight instructor/commercial, instrument rated pilot. Mostly, I love to share how I see LIFE with others.
My early childhood was on an 1800's family farm with frogs, fish and cows. Summers were spent in the remote wilds of New Brunswick in canoes, a fly rod in my hand, trout in my dreams ... and as often as possible a hot, freshly fried donut in my mouth. A favorite adventure was the monthly overnight canoe/hike up to the fire-lookout rangers on top of Mt. Carlton to bring them a tin of the peanut butter cookies we'd made at camp.
At age 9 my love of the natural world was cemented by a safari to Kenya with my dad. We stalked gazelles and slept on the parched ground of the ungoverned frontier near Ethiopia. To me scrambling up a tree when elephants walked into camp represented the hightest "quality of life", as did the unusual pillows and snacks that we had (ask if you dare).
In my teens, I was an exchange student at Waterford School (photo) in Swaziland, Africa, just 3 years after its founding as a multi-racial school in opposition to apartheid. There I was immersed in Swazi culture and wildlife. A family move to coastal SC also taught me the coastal “Low Country” and its people, its vast forests of lob-lolly pine and live oak, its snakes, and the great mazes of tidal marshes.
College (at Stanford) and grad school (U of Washington) on the West Coast inspired me with physiological ecology, neurobiology, hormones and behavior, launching me on a research career in biology. The towering granite Sierras and glaciated Cascades kindled a continuing passion for climbing and mountaineering. During grad school I was able to go to Sierra Leone where the Peace Corps network enabled me to talk with local paramount chiefs about behavioral changes to reduce the "River Blindness" caused by Black Flies.
Next, at Cornell University, mosquito hormones, behavior and molecular genetics were the focus of early biotechnology research aimed at reducing malaria. As part of my research and teaching I worked in Kenya (where I got malaria high on Mt. Kenya, photo) and Ethiopia (which was a repressive Marxist state, ouch!).
During my various times in Africa as a student and a biologist, deep friendships developed with many of the indigenous people. My wife, Deede, and I have made two trips to Botswana, visiting remote San Bushmen to experience their way of life and their marginalization. We have worked with several organizations to help develop conservation strategies that take such indigenous people into account.
For the past 20 years Maine has been my home. Nowhere else in the country touches it for interest, beauty, drama, fun. Retired from research, I'm a trustee at a secondary school, where I encourage experience-oriented education. I'm also involved with an organization that publishes a series of scientific books on the identification and biology of Moths !