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Let us know you plan to celebrate Mary Cerullo with us!

Mary Cerullo, Associate DirectorMary Cerullo will soon begin a new chapter in her life. At the end of March, Mary will be retiring from Friends of Casco Bay. 

Over the past 22 years, Mary has been our writer-in-residence, our media maven, the developer of our Casco Bay Curriculum, our lead ambassador for BayScaping, and a key team member in our community relations work. Her warmth, collegiality, and talents have been a key part of our work.

While we are excited for her and her future adventures (we hear she will soon be adding to the 23 books she has already authored!), Mary will be sorely missed.

Before she turns the page, we invite you to a party we’re hosting at the Cumberland Club on March 18 from 5 to 7 p.m. to celebrate all she has done for Casco Bay, our organization, and our community.

If you plan on attending, you can RSVP above or by emailing Will Everitt.

At the event, we will ask attendees to share some of their stories about Mary as we raise a toast to her service to the Bay. We will also have a guest book so you can write your well-wishes for a happy retirement. 

At the party, the drinks and hors d’oeuvres will be on us. If you would like to make a donation in honor of Mary, which we will memorialize in this year’s Annual Report to the Community, we invite you to make a donation to our Emeritus Fund for Advocacy

 

What: Mary Cerullo’s Retirement Party!

When: Wednesday, March 18, 5-7 p.m.

Where: The Cumberland Club, 116 High Street, Portland

RSVP by March 10

30 Years of Friends of Casco Bay

  • Pearls are gemstones that mark a 30th anniversary. Pearls are symbolic of wisdom gained through experience. We have learned a lot in 30 years!
  • A pearl is created by an oyster in response to an irritant. A pearl can form over time as an oyster secretes layer upon layer of aragonite, a form of calcium carbonate, around a particle of sand. Friends of Casco Bay was created in 1989 in response to a report that claimed Casco Bay was polluted. We continue to respond to many issues that aggravate the health of the Bay.
  • Oysters thrive in estuaries like Casco Bay. Sea farmers in Casco Bay raise the American and European species of oysters. These sea creatures can tolerate a broad range of temperatures and salinities. Our data document a wide range of water quality conditions around our estuary, where fresh water and salt water meet.
  • Oysters help clean the ocean. One oyster can pump up to 50 gallons of water through its body each day, filtering pollutants from the sea water. Our pumpout boat can remove 650 gallons (or more) of raw sewage from marine toilets in a day.
  • Oysters are vulnerable to ocean acidification. Like other creatures whose shells are made of aragonite, oysters, mussels, and clams have a harder time building and maintaining their shells in acidic conditions. We use data from our Continuous Monitoring Station to calculate the amount of aragonite in seawater (“omega aragonite”) to determine if there is enough raw material for an oyster to build its shell—or make a pearl.
  • Oysters remove nitrogen from the water. An oyster uses nitrogen from seawater for its growth. Excess nitrogen is deposited in the mud as pseudofeces (fake poop), taking that nitrogen out of circulation. Friends of Casco Bay works to reduce excess nitrogen in coastal waters from fertilizers, polluted stormwater, and sewage outfalls.
  • Friends of Casco Bay is the thread connecting the string of pearls. Our community of staff, board, volunteers, supporters, and concerned citizens are bound together by the common goal of improving and protecting the environmental health of Casco Bay.

Save the date for our 30th Anniversary Event

As we look ahead in 2020, we invite you to our 30th anniversary celebration on April 29, 2020, at Ocean Gateway in Portland. Mark your calendar and save the date! More details to come here: 30th Anniversary Event.

Three decades of success – the impact of Friends of Casco Bay

Friends of Casco Bay has a long history of success. Since our founding in 1989, our work-with, science-based approach has moved the needle toward a healthier, more protected Bay.

  • We championed a halt to cruise ship pollution and won a No Discharge Area designation for Casco Bay, the first in Maine.
  • We have secured better long-term protection through Clean Water Act classification upgrades for three areas of Casco Bay, ensuring stricter, permanent pollution restrictions.
  • Our water quality data are sent to Congress every two years; the Maine Department of Environmental Protection uses our data in its Clean Water Act biennial reporting to Congress and would not be in compliance without it.
  • We advocated for Portland to get back on track—and we continue to push to keep efforts on track— to fulfill its court-ordered agreement to clean up and eliminate dozens of combined sewer overflows, reducing the amount of raw sewage flowing into the Bay.
  • We are leading the call to reduce nitrogen discharges into our coastal waters. We forged an agreement with Portland Water District, which set a goal of reducing nitrogen coming out of the East End Wastewater Treatment Facility. During the summer of 2018, they reduced nitrogen levels by 70%, on average.
  • Our data and advocacy inspired South Portland and Portland to pass the strictest ordinances in the state to reduce pollution from pesticides. Harpswell also passed a pesticide ordinance with our input, and other communities are considering similar restrictions.
  • We convinced the legislature to form an Ocean Acidification Commission to investigate and make policy recommendations to address our acidifying waters.
  • We helped form the Maine Ocean and Coastal Acidification Partnership (MOCA) to coordinate the work of researchers, government officials, and advocates to reduce acidification and address climate change. Our Casco Baykeeper currently serves as the coordinator of MOCA.
  • We successfully advocated for Portland to pass an ordinance designed to discourage single-use bags in favor of reusable ones. The bag ordinance, in turn, inspired Brunswick, Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth, Freeport, South Portland, and eight other towns in the state to pass similar laws. We also won a polystyrene (e.g. Styrofoam) ban in Portland.
  • Our BayScaping Program is teaching thousands of residents and landscaping professionals to grow green lawns that keep Casco Bay blue; this is the model for the state of Maine’s YardScaping Program.
  • Our Casco Bay Curriculum has reached an estimated 17,500 students. We help teachers incorporate our monitoring data into their classroom activities. We have provided professional development courses for more than 700 teachers.
  • We fought to improve the S.D.Warren (now SAPPI) paper mill’s Clean Water Act discharge permit, significantly cutting the pollution released into our waters.
  • We helped lead the response to the largest oil spill in Maine history, the Julie N, and assisted responders in recovering an unprecedented 78% of the spilled oil (a 15-20% recovery is considered a success).
  • We were a founding member of Waterkeeper Alliance in 1999, a network that has grown to include over 300 Baykeepers, Riverkeepers, and other Waterkeepers

A special Season’s Greetings to you

Amid the delights and demands of the Holidays, we pause here to thank you and all our volunteers, donors, and supporters. You play a crucial role in our ability to monitor the environmental health of Casco Bay, engage community members to be good stewards, and protect our coastal waters from pollution.May the serenity of the season find its way into your heart—along with our gratitude!

We look forward to meeting the challenges ahead in the New Year, confident that with the support of Friends like you, we will forge ahead toward a healthier Casco Bay.

Warmest regards,

Cathy L. Ramsdell, CPA
Executive Director

Did you see our top 10 stories of 2019?

Let’s walk down Memory Lane together to recall our most popular stories of the year, based on your visits to our website and our social media interactions:

  • You answered the call when Casco Bay needed your voice. We asked our supporters to urge the Maine Legislature’s Committee on Marine Resources to pass a bill to create a Climate Change and Ocean Acidification Commission. Ultimately, our bill was incorporated into the Governor’s comprehensive climate change bill, which passed with strong bipartisan support.
  • Maine takes a BIG step forward to address climate change. Our Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca was appointed to serve on the Coastal and Marine Working Group of the newly-created Maine Climate Council.
  • Casco Bay Temperature Extremes Whenever Research Associate Mike Doan is asked, “What were the highest and the lowest water temperatures this year?” he directs folks to our Continuous Monitoring Station data, which document water conditions in the Bay on a daily, monthly, and yearly basis.
  • Our new pumpout boat is taking care of business. More than 100 friends cheered the christening and launch of Headmaster, the new pumpout boat specially built for Friends of Casco Bay.
  • Have you seen this fin? It’s not a shark! Several boaters on the Bay encountered Mola mola, or ocean sunfish, this summer.
  • Casco Bay Matters More than 380 people attended our presentations on Climate Change, Ocean Acidification, and You. If you missed our Casco Bay Matters presentations, you can see the series of three videos on our YouTube channel.
  • BEE a BayScaper! Jane Benesch’s yard attracts butterflies and bees — and neighbors who stop to admire her flower beds, vegetable gardens, tiny lawn — and her BayScaper sign.
  • Hosting so many service days with local companies this year is great for Casco Bay. Friends of Casco Bay led 22 coastal cleanups this summer. Remarked Community Engagement Coordinator Sarah Lyman, “Still, we always found plenty of debris to pick up!”
  • Keep pet waste out of the Bay! While we were examining a pollution incident in Cumberland, we came across a pile of dog poop bags at the outfall of a storm drain. When pet lovers toss poop bags into a storm drain, they are not doing the Bay any favors.
  • Water Reporters report in about #sealevelrise. Volunteer Water Reporters were out taking photos of the high tides to document flooded streets and eroding coastlines — warning signs of sea level rise.

We look forward to keeping you updated in the New Year. Our emails will help you stay on top of news about Casco Bay in 2020, including our 30th anniversary celebration on April 29, 2020, at Ocean Gateway in Portland. Mark your calendar and save the date!

Community Engagement: Many eyes are watching Casco Bay

Water Reporter is a simple-to-use app that enables observers to photograph, comment on, and share what they are seeing around the Bay, both good and bad. A year after Friends of Casco Bay launched our Water Reporter volunteer monitoring project, more than 193 volunteers have made more than 814 posts. Volunteers are tracking algal blooms, documenting sea level rise, photographic wildlife, and finding other innovative uses for the app.

Water Reporters chronicle King Tides, the highest tides of the year, which gives us a glimpse of the future. The photos can document current coastal flooding, such as submerged streets and eroding beaches. These images help us all visualize what the “new normal” high tides may look like as sea levels continue to rise.

Friends of Casco Bay volunteers have been keeping an eye on the health of the Bay for over a quarter-century, first as Citizens Steward Water Quality Monitors and now as Water Reporters. The Water Reporter smartphone app provides an easy way for volunteers to report on pollution incidents, nuisance and harmful algal blooms, and other issues that threaten the health of our waters.

Says Erin Hofmann, Data Science and Communications Lead for Chesapeake Commons, “Friends of Casco Bay is one of our most active groups in terms of active members, number of posts, and ongoing efforts.  Water Reporter has been around since 2014. Every winter, posts would slow to a trickle or stop altogether. I couldn’t believe how frequently posts kept rolling in from Maine this winter – bucking our long-held belief that people don’t engage in environmental efforts in the cold months. Leave it to the Mainers to get outside regardless of the weather to keep the observations flowing!”

Rick Frantz is one of those active Water Reporters. See what he has been observing in these articles in the Portland Press Herald and The Forecaster:

Top 10 stories of 2019

Let’s walk down Memory Lane together to recall our most popular stories of the year, based on your visits to our website and our social media interactions:

  • You answered the call when Casco Bay needed your voice
    We asked our supporters to let legislators know they are concerned about climate change and the health of Casco Bay. You urged the Maine Legislature’s Committee on Marine Resources to support a bill to create a Climate Change and Ocean Acidification Commission. Your voices were heard as our bill was incorporated into the Governor’s comprehensive climate change bill, An Act to Promote Clean Energy Jobs and to Establish the Maine Climate Council, which was passed with strong bipartisan support.
  • Maine takes a BIG step forward to address climate change
    Friends of Casco Bay fervently supported Governor Mills’ bill to establish the Maine Climate Council because it focuses on the root causes of climate change and recognizes that we must act now to remediate and adapt to inevitable change. Our Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca has been appointed to the Coastal and Marine Working Group of the Climate Council.
  • Casco Bay Temperature Extremes
    Research Associate Mike Doan is often asked, “What were the highest and the lowest water temperatures this year?” Thanks to our Continuous Monitoring Station, Mike is able to share those data with confidence. He can tell you what water conditions in the Bay are on an hourly, daily, weekly, seasonal, or yearly basis in far more detail than ever before.
  • Our new pumpout boat is taking care of business
    On June 10, more than 100 friends cheered the christening and launch of Headmaster, the new pumpout boat specially built for Friends of Casco Bay. It transports raw sewage from the holding tanks of recreational boats to shoreside treatment. The name Headmaster is a play on the word for a marine toilet — “head” — and gives a nod to the educational and ambassadorial role of the pumpout service.
  • Have you seen this fin?
    It’s not a shark! Several boaters on the Bay encountered Mola mola, or ocean sunfish, this summer. Its bulbous body is not designed for speed, but it can plunge down hundreds of feet in search of its favorite food: jellyfish. It then floats on its side at the ocean surface to warm up after its chilly dive.
  • Casco Bay Matters
    In March and April, 380 people attended our first-ever Casco Bay Matters series, held at three venues around the Bay. They heard Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca, Research Associate Mike Doan, and Executive Director Cathy Ramsdell speak on Climate Change, Ocean Acidification and You in Portland, South Portland, and Brunswick. By the last presentation, in Brunswick, it was standing room only. If you missed our Casco Bay Matters presentations, you can see the series of three videos on our YouTube channel.
  • BEE a BayScaper!
    We were proud to see a BayScaper sign on the lawn of Friends of Casco Bay’s volunteer Jane Benesch. Her South Portland yard is bedecked with flower beds, vegetable patches, and wood chip-lined paths — and just a little turf. Her yard attracts butterflies and bees — and neighbors who stop to admire her winged visitors.
  • Hosting so many service days with local companies this year is great for Casco Bay.
    Friends of Casco Bay led 22 coastal cleanups this summer. We had so many requests for community service projects that volunteers sometimes scoured the same location only four days apart. “Still,” said Community Engagement Coordinator Sarah Lyman, “we always found find plenty of debris to pick up!”
  • Keep pet waste out of the Bay!
    While we were examining a pollution incident in Cumberland, we came across several dog poop bags at the outfall of a storm drain. When folks toss poop bags into a storm drain, they are not doing the Bay any favors. Storm drains often lead directly to Casco Bay. So after bagging it, deposit pet waste in a trash can or flush the contents down the toilet and throw the plastic bag in the trash.
  • Water Reporters report in about #sealevelrise
    Volunteer Water Reporters were out taking photos of the high tides to document flooded streets, eroding coastlines, and tide levels encroaching where we don’t normally see them. Water Reporter provides a two-way conversation platform about protecting Casco Bay.

We look forward to keeping you updated in the New year. Make sure you stay on top of news about Casco Bay in 2020!

Happy Holidays from Friends of Casco Bay

 

In this season of giving, please receive our special thanks for helping to protect the health of Casco Bay.

2019 has been a banner year for us. We continue our work at the local level and with focus on the importance of our coastal waters. We have moved the needle toward a healthier, more protected Bay. Our work has resonated in communities around the Bay and beyond:

  • We worked with state legislators and other environmental groups to draft a bill to establish a state-funded marine advisory commission. This bill was integrated into the Governor’s comprehensive climate bill, which established the Maine Climate Council. Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca was invited to serve on the Climate Council’s Coastal and Marine Working Group.
  • We organized stakeholder meetings with legislators, resource harvesters, scientists, and concerned citizens, to help the Maine Ocean and Coastal Acidification Partnership write the report, “An Action Plan to Address and Adapt to Ocean Climate Change in Maine.” The report will be used as a resource and guide for Maine Climate Council’s Coastal and Marine Working Group.
  • We presented three programs, free and open to the public, on Climate Change, Ocean Acidification, and You, in our first-ever Casco Bay Matters series. Friends of Casco Bay staff members described the research, policies, and actions needed to help address threats from climate change to Maine’s marine economy and quality of life. More than 380 people in Portland, South Portland, and Brunswick came to hear what we had to say. They left armed with actions they could take to make a difference.
  • Nearly 200 volunteers have signed up as Water Reporters, our observing network for Casco Bay. You can check out their observations here.
  • We amped up our work to understand a changing Casco Bay through our Continuous Monitoring Station in Yarmouth, which collects data hourly, year-round. The station is well into its fourth year of data collection. We continue to spot-check the health of the Bay at 21 additional sites around the Bay. Check out our “Cage of Science’s” data at cascobay.org/our-work/science/continuous-monitoring-station.

We would not be effective if not for our volunteers, members and the local businesses and foundations that support our work. You are all Friends of the Bay.

As we look ahead to 2020, we invite you to our 30th anniversary celebration on April 29, 2020, at Ocean Gateway in Portland. Mark your calendar and save the date!

May the beauty of the season find its way into your heart — along with our gratitude.

Warmest regards,

Cathy L. Ramsdell, CPA
Executive Director

Science: We help you see what is going on beneath the surface of the Bay

Before we started monitoring the water quality of Casco Bay, no one knew how healthy or polluted the Bay actually was. Thanks to the data we have been collecting at dozens of shoreside and offshore sites, we can state that the water temperature of Casco Bay has risen by 2.5°F, on average, since 1993.

Our long-term data set is enhanced by our Continuous Monitoring Station that has been monitoring the health of the Bay hourly, 365 days a year, since 2016. Anchored below a pier in Yarmouth, it provides the frequent, high-volume stream of data necessary to accurately track changes that may impact the oysters, clams, lobsters, and eelgrass within the Bay.

“Climate change is happening so rapidly, we needed to add to the way we collect data,” observed Research Associate Mike Doan. Since July 20, 2016, our Continuous Monitoring Station has been gathering data around the clock, all year long. Each month, we post information on 10 measures that document water quality at our monitoring site in Yarmouth, near the coastal midpoint of Casco Bay. 

Our Monitoring Station is fondly nicknamed the “Cage of Science” because its high-tech sensors are housed inside a converted lobster trap. These instruments measure temperature, salinity, oxygen, pH, carbon dioxide, and more.

These data help us gain new insights—and new questions–on the health of the Bay. Others are finding these data useful, too. Scientists use our data to inform their own research. Policy makers refer to our data to support legislative action on climate change. Classroom teachers have their students analyze our data to launch discussions on what humans can do to improve water quality. Recently, we discovered that young visitors to the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine measure the temperature and salinity of the Museum’s touch tank and compare their readings to our real-world data on Casco Bay.

We have posted our data online for all to see. Visit cascobay.org to see for yourself how Casco Bay is changing month by month.

The news media have recently reported on our plan to expand our array of Continuous Monitoring Stations to get a better understanding of the dynamics of Casco Bay:

30 Years of Friends of Casco Bay

January 8, 2020

Pearls are gemstones that mark a 30th anniversary. Pearls are symbolic of wisdom gained through experience. We have learned a lot in 30 years! A pearl is created by an oyster in response to an irritant. A pearl can form over time as an oyster secretes layer upon layer of… Read more

Three decades of success – the impact of Friends of Casco Bay

December 31, 2019

Friends of Casco Bay has a long history of success. Since our founding in 1989, our work-with, science-based approach has moved the needle toward a healthier, more protected Bay. We championed a halt to cruise ship pollution and won a No Discharge Area designation for Casco Bay, the first in… Read more

A special Season’s Greetings to you

December 27, 2019

​ Amid the delights and demands of the Holidays, we pause here to thank you and all our volunteers, donors, and supporters. You play a crucial role in our ability to monitor the environmental health of Casco Bay, engage community members to be good stewards, and protect our coastal waters… Read more

Top 10 stories of 2019

December 20, 2019

Let’s walk down Memory Lane together to recall our most popular stories of the year, based on your visits to our website and our social media interactions: You answered the call when Casco Bay needed your voice We asked our supporters to let legislators know they are concerned about climate… Read more

Happy Holidays from Friends of Casco Bay

December 18, 2019

  In this season of giving, please receive our special thanks for helping to protect the health of Casco Bay. 2019 has been a banner year for us. We continue our work at the local level and with focus on the importance of our coastal waters. We have moved the… Read more

Science: We help you see what is going on beneath the surface of the Bay

December 11, 2019

Before we started monitoring the water quality of Casco Bay, no one knew how healthy or polluted the Bay actually was. Thanks to the data we have been collecting at dozens of shoreside and offshore sites, we can state that the water temperature of Casco Bay has risen by 2.5°F,… Read more

Advocacy: Laying the groundwork for confronting ocean climate change

Our 2019 priority legislative bill to create a state-funded Climate Change and Ocean Acidification Commission was integrated into the Governor’s comprehensive Climate Change bill. An Act to Promote Clean Energy Jobs and to Establish the Maine Climate Council passed with strong bipartisan support. With Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca in attendance, Governor Janet Mills signed the bill into law on June 26, 2019.

Our Casco Baykeeper has been asked to serve as a member of the Council’s Coastal and Marine Working Group. It is a tribute to the work that Ivy has devoted to nurturing and coordinating the volunteer Maine Ocean and Coastal Acidification (MOCA) partnership, which she and Executive Director Cathy Ramsdell helped formally launch in 2016.

In 2019, Friends of Casco Bay received a grant to enable MOCA to draft an action plan to address the impact of climate change on Maine’s marine species. Recommendations from that effort will help the newly-created Climate Council as it drafts its five-year plan of action.

Ivy reflected, “The creation of the Maine Climate Council marks the culmination of five years of efforts to bring attention to the threats of ocean and coastal acidification to our marine ecology and economy. Concerned Mainers built a coalition that is helping to provide the groundwork for the new Administration’s work plan on ocean climate change.”

Read more about this work in this recent Portland Press Herald article: https://www.pressherald.com/2019/09/16/maine-finally-addressing-climate-change-in-the-gulf/

The impact of Friends of Casco Bay over three decades

Friends of Casco Bay has a long history of success. Since our founding in 1989, our work-with, science-based approach has moved the needle toward a healthier, more protected Bay.

  • We championed a halt to cruise ship pollution and won a No Discharge Area designation for Casco Bay, the first in Maine.
  • We have secured better long-term protection through Clean Water Act classification upgrades for three areas of Casco Bay, ensuring stricter, permanent pollution restrictions.
  • Our water quality data are sent to Congress every two years; the Maine Department of Environmental Protection uses our data in its Clean Water Act biennial reporting to Congress and would not be in compliance without it.
  • We advocated for Portland to get back on track—and we continue to push to keep efforts on track— to fulfill its court-ordered agreement to clean up and eliminate dozens of combined sewer overflows, reducing the amount of raw sewage flowing into the Bay.
  • We are leading the call to reduce nitrogen discharges into our coastal waters. We forged an agreement with Portland Water District, which set a goal of reducing nitrogen coming out of the East End Wastewater Treatment Facility. During the summer of 2018, they reduced nitrogen levels by 70%, on average.
  • Our data and advocacy inspired South Portland and Portland to pass the strictest ordinances in the state to reduce pollution from pesticides. Harpswell also passed a pesticide ordinance with our input, and other communities are considering similar restrictions.
  • We convinced the legislature to form an Ocean Acidification Commission to investigate and make policy recommendations to address our acidifying waters.
  • We helped form the Maine Ocean and Coastal Acidification Partnership (MOCA) to coordinate the work of researchers, government officials, and advocates to reduce acidification and address climate change. Our Casco Baykeeper currently serves as the coordinator of MOCA.
  • We successfully advocated for Portland to pass an ordinance designed to discourage single-use bags in favor of reusable ones. The bag ordinance, in turn, inspired Brunswick, Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth, Freeport, South Portland, and eight other towns in the state to pass similar laws. We also won a polystyrene (e.g. Styrofoam) ban in Portland.
  • Our BayScaping Program is teaching thousands of residents and landscaping professionals to grow green lawns that keep Casco Bay blue; this is the model for the state of Maine’s YardScaping Program.
  • Our Casco Bay Curriculum has reached an estimated 17,500 students. We help teachers incorporate our monitoring data into their classroom activities. We have provided professional development courses for more than 700 teachers.
  • We fought to improve the S.D.Warren (now SAPPI) paper mill’s Clean Water Act discharge permit, significantly cutting the pollution released into our waters.
  • We helped lead the response to the largest oil spill in Maine history, the Julie N, and assisted responders in recovering an unprecedented 78% of the spilled oil (a 15-20% recovery is considered a success).
  • We were a founding member of Waterkeeper Alliance in 1999, a network that has grown to include over 300 Baykeepers, Riverkeepers, and other Waterkeepers