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2022: A Magical Season on Casco Bay

Out and About with the Casco Baykeeper by Ivy Frignoca

In 2020 and 2021, with social contact limited and meetings mostly via Zoom, Staff Scientist Mike Doan and I continued monitoring water quality and worked hard to improve and protect our beloved Bay. What we missed was time with friends and colleagues. Reconnecting in person with people on and around the Bay made the 2022 summer magical. 

Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca stands with Executive Director Will Everitt and recipients of the 2022 Casco Bay Awards at We Are Water, our Members Annual Meeting in New Gloucester in July. Award recipients were recognized for their exceptional efforts to address pollution and climate change in Casco Bay. From left to right: Scott Firmin, Portland Water District Director of Wastewater Services; Dan Devereaux, Brunswick Coastal Resources Manager; Ivy; Will; Fred Dillon, South Portland Stormwater Coordinator.

In July, I enjoyed seeing so many Friends of the Bay at our first in-person Annual Members Meeting in three years. I also had the opportunity to connect with colleagues and donors at our Continuous Monitoring Stations. The conversations we shared generated many ideas that will help us better protect the Bay.

In my personal life, it was a pleasure to enjoy the Bay with friends and family. Sailing with friends and stopping to explore Little Chebeague Island was one of my favorite moments. My children loved boating there when they were young. Exploring the island this year evoked present joy and past fond memories. 

On another excursion, dear friends and I gathered for a sunset cruise from Falmouth to Harpswell, stopping at Mackerel Cove before barbecuing by the Cribstone Bridge. The Bay shimmered, smooth and flat with the setting sun reflecting off the islands — I love the rugged beauty of Harpswell. 

I cherished my time off the water, too. I often bike along the Bay, with stops for the countless terrific views and coastline to explore — Cousins and Littlejohn Islands are personal favorites. When I simply need to relax, I head to my home turf: Broad Cove. Cumberland’s beautiful town reserve is an excellent place to swim, read a book, catch up with neighbors, and soak in some Bay magic.   

Wherever I have been this summer, I have seen people loving Casco Bay. It is wonderful to know I share this love for our Bay with so many, including all of you.

Become a Water Reporter and report what you see on Casco Bay

Want to get outside, take photos that may help protect the health of Casco Bay, and connect with other community members?

We invite you to join our new volunteer Observing Network, Water Reporter, an exciting way to share what you see around the Bay.

In 2016 and 2017, we saw a concerning increase in the number and extent of nuisance and harmful algal blooms in Casco Bay. Large mats of algae covered tidal flats, smothering animals underneath the mats, preventing juvenile clams from settling, and increasing the acidity of the sediment.

This summer and fall, we continue to be on the lookout for nuisance, green algal outbreaks—and we need your help!

Join Water Reporter now.

For this project we are asking you to take photos of the Bay to document algal bloom events, water pollution and trash, shoreline erosion, and marine wildlife sightings. Through the Water Reporter app, your photos will be shared with Friends of Casco Bay, as well as with other observers. You will be able to see and comment on others’ posts and get an idea of what is going on around the Bay.

Each submission is displayed on a map and posted to individual, organization, and watershed feeds. To keep you in the loop, you will receive email notifications every time someone comments or takes action on your report.

In order to be a Water Reporter volunteer:

  • You will need a smartphone (iPhone or Android) or a tablet (iPad or Android tablet).
  • Create an account on the Water Reporter app and join the Friends of Casco Bay group.
  • Be willing to take photos of the Bay and share them on the app along with their location.
What you need to know:
  • Each photo you submit will provide a better understanding of conditions in the Bay.
  • Friends of Casco Bay is especially interested in tracking algal blooms as they occur, so if you come across one, be sure to share a photo along with the hashtag #algae.
  • For other reports please use hashtags like #trash #erosion #pollutionreport or #wildlife in the photo caption to improve search and categorization of your report for the community and Friends of Casco Bay.

What’s the big deal with green algae?

In the marine environment, nitrogen jumpstarts the growth of algae and phytoplankton, tiny plants that form the base of the ocean food chain, which in turn nurture zooplankton, clams, oysters, crabs, lobsters, fish, and whales. But too much nitrogen may trigger large blooms of nuisance algae or “green slime,” which can reduce water clarity and lower oxygen levels, making life harder for marine organisms. These nuisance algal blooms may be triggered by excess nitrogen from fertilizers, sewage, pet wastes, and emissions from tailpipes and smokestacks. For more information on excess nitrogen and green algae visit https://www.cascobay.org/our-work/science/nuisance-algal-bloom-tracking/.

We hope you will join our observing network and help us keep an eye on the Bay we all share and love!

Map of Water Reporter Observations