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Category: Continuous Monitoring Stations

Our Top 10 Moments of 2023

As this year comes to an end, let’s reflect and celebrate the many ways that we worked together to protect the health of Casco Bay in 2023. Here are our top ten stories of the year:

1) We won a four-year moratorium on new sources of pollution into the lower Presumpscot River. The moratorium prevents the permitting of new industrial or wastewater discharges into the river near where it empties into Casco Bay. As the Presumpscot drains two-thirds of the Casco Bay watershed, this was a big win for our waters. Portland Press Herald wrote an in-depth story on this effort. Our lead advocate, Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca won the Chief Poulin Award for her work on the moratorium. Ivy is shown here receiving the award from Friends of the Presumpscot River board member, Will Plumley.

2) More than 100 of our volunteer Water Reporters deepened their knowledge about Casco Bay. Volunteer Water Reporters attended a wide array of meet-ups and trainings all around the Bay this year. Water Reporters spent time with experts and heard the most up-to-date information about living shorelines, marsh restoration, invasive species, and stormwater pollution.

3) The “Sensor Squad” is moving science forward for Casco Bay and all of Maine’s coastal waters. Good decisions are made using good data. Led, in part, by our Staff Scientist Mike Doan, the Sensor Squad is working to ensure we are using the most accurate climate change and acidification techniques and protocols we can. This work is a part of Maine Ocean Climate Collaborative, a coalition of scientists and marine organizations from the University of New Hampshire to the border of Maine and Canada working to improve climate change data collection. Friends of Casco Bay helps to lead the Collaborative.

4) Passamaquoddy Language Keeper Dwayne Tomah was the featured speaker at our Members Annual Meeting in August. He shared the Passamaquoddy word for ceremony, “olotahkewakon,” noting that our gathering was a ceremony for our mother earth. Dwayne’s refrain throughout the evening was “We are all in this together.” Watch the inspiring talk here.

5) We maintained the strength of the permit that regulates stormwater pollution from large urban communities. You may remember that we celebrated this stricter permit as our top story of 2022. Stormwater is one of the largest sources of pollution into Casco Bay. Since the permit that regulates urban stormwater went into effect in July 2022, we have been working to ensure that it is properly implemented. In November, the Maine Board of Environmental Protection agreed with us that the Maine Department of Environmental Protection must ensure that towns covered by the permit implement low-impact development ordinances that include nine strategies designed to reduce stormwater pollution from new construction and redevelopment.

6) The City of South Portland launched 100 Resilient Yards, providing a grassroots way to bring best practices in yard care directly to neighborhoods around the city. Residents and businesses who took part in the program were given technical and physical assistance to build healthy soils that protect Casco Bay. Experts and volunteers helped residents build rain gardens, grow pollinator gardens, and more. We hope other towns around the Bay look at this program as a model!

7) We organized 15 fun coastal cleanups, including one with the surf rock band Easy Honey and one with the Harpswell Heritage Land Trust. These cleanups gave community members a hands-on way to make a direct difference in the health of our waters by preventing waste and litter from being washed into the Bay.

8) We hired Community Organizer and Volunteer Coordinator Sara Freshley! Over the past 10 months, Sara has become an integral part of our team. She’s helped deepen the knowledge of our Water Reporters, organized storm drain stenciling and coastal cleanups, and worked to expand our outreach efforts.

Pile of expired flares9) We helped organize an expired flare collection event in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Casco Bay and the Maine State Fire Marshall. The event was a great success, collecting 1,945 expired marine flares. Marine flares are pyrotechnic devices that boaters can use as a distress signal in emergencies. They burn at high temperatures, posing a serious fire hazard for long-term storage. Flares also contain toxic chemicals that can contaminate water and soil. Due to these hazardous qualities, it is illegal to throw flares in the trash, and ill-advised to store them at home.

Scenic Category Winner 1st Place, Student Category Winner, Best of Show, by Ava McKinley

10) We got in touch with our artistic side! Our online event, Water as Inspiration, brought together three regional artists to draw the connections between creativity, the environment, and climate change. We had dozens of submissions to “Frame the Bay,” our first-ever photo contest at our Members Annual Meeting. And we shared the stage with filmmaker Maximillian Armstrong at our Film Fest for Casco Bay.

As YOU know, Casco Bay is an inspiration! Thank you for helping us protect this amazing place and for being a Friend of Casco Bay.

Ever-Changing Casco Bay

Casco Bay is everchanging. The Bay changes with each tide, each day, and each season. And now, because of climate change, our coastal waters are transforming in different ways and faster than we thought possible.

At our EverChanging Casco Bay event on November 28, Staff Scientist Mike Doan dove into the data we use to track the health of the Bay. Community Organizer and Volunteer Coordinator Sara Freshley shared observational data our volunteer Water Reporters posted over the course of the summer. Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca discussed how these scientific and observational data are helping to move the needle for a cleaner, more protected Casco Bay.

 

If you missed the event or want to rewatch it, click here. If you don’t have time to watch the whole event, you can click here to hear Mike delve into the datahere for Sara talking about Water Reporters, and here to listen to Ivy describe the big picture.

More than 60 Friends attended the event along with members of the media. The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday TelegramMaine PublicBangor Daily News, and WGME covered the event and the issues we discussed.

How we are moving science forward

Sensor Squad Moves Science Forward

We rely on scientific data on the health of Casco Bay to inform our advocacy and stewardship efforts.

Good decisions are made using good data. That’s the idea behind the Maine Ocean Climate Collaborative.

“The Collaborative is made up of some of the best saltwater scientists in Maine,” says Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca. “By sharing research and knowledge of climate change science, water quality monitoring issues, and ocean climate policies, we can better protect all of our coastal waters.”

Ivy coordinates the Collaborative, which includes Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Science, Bowdoin College, Casco Bay Estuary Partnership, Downeast Institute, Friends of Casco Bay, Governor’s Office of Policy, Innovation, and the Future, Island Institute, Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries, Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Maine Department of Marine Resources, University of New Hampshire’s Ocean Processes Analysis Laboratory (OPAL), and Wells  National Estuarine Research Reserve (Wells Reserve).

Staff Scientist Mike Doan (left photo) and Science and Advocacy Associate Heather Kenyon (right photo) are working with colleagues up and down Maine’s coast to improve our collective knowledge of how acidification and climate change may be affecting our waters.

A key part of the Collaborative’s current work is to develop a report of recommended equipment, sampling techniques, and quality assurance protocols to serve as a guide for researchers, agencies, and institutions up and down Maine’s coast to better monitor climate change and acidification. For this effort, Friends of Casco Bay Staff Scientist Mike Doan is working closely with colleagues from OPAL and Wells Reserve.

“We call ourselves the ‘Sensor Squad,’” says Mike. “Staff from Wells Reserve and Friends of Casco Bay are testing equipment and protocols in real-world conditions and comparing our data to OPAL’s gold standard. The goal is to ensure we are getting the most accurate climate change and acidification data we can. As the science evolves, we have to evolve, too.”

While the “Sensor Squad” may not look like superheroes, by working together, the scientists are helping improve Maine’s understanding of climate change.

“While our mission is all about Casco Bay, we recognize that climate change doesn’t stop at the watershed’s border,” says Executive Director Will Everitt. “The State of Maine can use our work as a model for what a statewide monitoring program can look like. When state agencies who are tasked with managing and protecting our marine ecosystems have better data, ultimately that helps Casco Bay and all of our coastal waters.”

The Maine Ocean Climate Collaborative Provides a Model to Move Maine Forward

Studying changing coastal ecosystems comes with unique challenges – Friends of Casco Bay and our partners are taking them on.

Staff Scientist Mike Doan designed Friends of Casco Bay’s Continuous Monitoring Stations, which serve as a model for measuring the influence of climate change on Maine’s coastal waters. Mike is working with other scientists to develop shared methods to collect and analyze marine climate change data, a key goal of Maine’s Climate Action Plan.

Friends of Casco Bay is facilitating the newly formed Maine Ocean Climate Collaborative, a coalition of scientists and marine organizations from the University of New Hampshire to the border of Maine and Canada working to improve climate change data collection. The Collaborative’s work acts as a model for establishing a coastwide climate change monitoring network, a key goal of Maine Won’t Wait, Maine’s Climate Action Plan.

“[The state of Maine is] participating in an ocean climate collaborative with academic and non-profit partners to coordinate and improve Maine-focused coastal and ocean acidification monitoring relevant to meeting the goals of Maine Won’t Wait,” reads the state’s two-year progress report on the Climate Action Plan. This is the Maine Ocean Climate Collaborative, which Friends of Casco Bay helps to lead!

In order to respond to the impacts of climate change, policymakers, resource harvesters, and other marine-dependent persons and industries must have reliable data. With these data in hand, they can make informed decisions to protect coastal resources, foster resilient habitat, and adapt fisheries management. 

This is easier said than done. Collecting data in coastal ecosystems comes with highly technical and unique challenges. In nearshore environments such as Casco Bay, the confluence of freshwater and saltwater, and the influences of human populations make studying water chemistry complex and difficult. 

“Climate change is challenging to measure, especially along the coast,” says Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca. “The Collaborative brings together some of the best scientific minds in Maine who are working to better understand how nearshore conditions are changing in response to excess carbon in the water. Together we can best compare equipment, evaluate data, and understand the changes we are seeing.” 

One of the Collaborative’s current tasks is to compare and refine technology, quality assurance standards, and monitoring methods to better measure acidification in coastal waters. Staff Scientist Mike Doan is working closely on this effort with two other members of the Collaborative: Wells National Estuarine Reserve, and University of New Hampshire’s Ocean Process Analysis Laboratory. 

Friends of Casco Bay collects pH data (a measure of acidity) at our three Continuous Monitoring Stations. Click on the graph to view these and our other continuous monitoring data yourself!

The ability to effectively measure acidification is vital because oceans around the world are becoming more acidic as they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Ocean acidification lowers the amount of minerals available for shell-building organisms like clams and oysters. It can also cause some harmful species of algae to bloom faster and produce more toxins. Our understanding of these impacts and others are constantly evolving because ocean acidification is a relatively new area of scientific research. 

Measuring acidification along the coast is uniquely challenging because most scientific monitoring equipment is designed specifically for freshwater or offshore ocean environments.

“Effective water science in the nearshore calls for creative solutions,” says Mike. “Fortunately, everyone in this group has experience doing just that, innovating to move coastal and climate science forward.”

This technology and monitoring methods work is supported by a $200,000 grant from the Maine Community Foundation. What Mike and the team learn will be shared with the rest of the Collaborative, enabling comparable marine climate data to be gathered throughout the Gulf of Maine.

Maine and ocean acidification: how did we get here?

Maine was the second state in the nation to recognize that ocean acidification poses a serious and little-understood threat to shellfisheries and coastal ecosystems. Since 2014, the state and marine organizations have convened multiple initiatives to better understand and address ocean acidification. This work ultimately resulted in a goal outlined in Maine’s Climate Action Plan to create a coastwide network of scientists to collect climate and ocean acidification data in the Gulf of Maine. These data would be accessible to inform environmental policy and fisheries management. 

The Maine Ocean Climate Collaborative provides a model for how this network can work. The Collaborative includes Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, Bowdoin College, Casco Bay Estuary Partnership, Downeast Institute, Friends of Casco Bay, Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future, Island Institute, Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries, Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Maine Department of Marine Resources, the University of New Hampshire, and Wells Reserve. The Maine Climate Council Coordinator also participates.

Mike’s Field Notes: Warm Winter Waters in Casco Bay

In this 4 minute video, Staff Scientist Mike Doan breaks down the data from our Continuous Monitoring Station in Yarmouth that show this past winter was unusually warm for Casco Bay. In addition to watching Mike’s video, you can read about these data and the many impacts of warming waters (such as more green crabs and less eelgrass), here.

P.S. You can try listening to the Bay yourself by checking out data from our Continuous Monitoring Stations.

Continuous Monitoring Station Data Show Warm Winter

If you were to swim in Casco Bay on a winter day, you would probably be thinking one thing: cold! 

But for marine life, it’s a different story. Especially this winter.  

Data from our Yarmouth Continuous Monitoring Station show Casco Bay is about 4°F warmer than the past seven winters, on average. This observation comes as scientists continue to report year-round temperatures in Casco Bay and the Gulf of Maine are rising faster than most other water bodies on the planet.

Winter water temperatures in 2023 are some of the highest we have seen since we began continuous data collection in 2016. This graph compares 2023 daily mean temperatures (the blue line) to the past seven years of temperature data (the gray line and shaded area) from our Yarmouth Continuous Monitoring Station. You can view all the data from our stations yourself on our website.

“While four degrees may not seem like much, this seemingly small change in temperature can kick off a cascade of changes throughout Casco Bay’s ecosystem,” says Staff Scientist Mike Doan. Green crabs provide a compelling example.

Originally from Europe, green crabs are estimated to have arrived in Maine around 1900 after hitching a ride on ships crossing the Atlantic Ocean. Their preference for feeding on shellfish like softshell clams became a clear problem in the 1950s, when an increase in water temperatures coincided with a boom in Maine’s green crab population. Softshell clam harvests plunged in those years. The fishery rebounded after colder water temperatures returned in the 1960s and the green crab population declined.

The connection between warmer water temperatures and more green crabs has been seen repeatedly in Maine. Scientists think this is partly because green crabs struggle to survive colder winters, but fare much better when water temperatures warm.

Despite their name, green crabs are not distinctly green! The top of their shell can range between dark brown and green, with flecks of yellow. The bottom of their shell can be white, orange or red. Photo: Jessica Batchelder

Green crab populations have surged many times in recent decades, often with devastating consequences for softshell clams and the Mainers who harvest them. In addition to predating on clams, green crabs also pose a threat to one of the most important lifeforms in Casco Bay: eelgrass.

Eelgrass is an ecologically vital, ribbon-like seagrass that grows underwater in the shallows of Casco Bay and Maine’s coast. Eelgrass meadows provide nursery habitat for many kinds of fish and shellfish, and help maintain water quality by absorbing nutrients and stabilizing sediments. Eelgrass meadows also help address climate change, as they are exceptionally good at absorbing and storing carbon dioxide.

When a green crab encounters eelgrass as it scuttles along the bottom of the Bay, it will often clip the grass at the base and continue to search the area for food. Juvenile crabs may feed on the base of the plant itself. This behavior is thought to be a major cause of eelgrass loss, where a 2012 – 2013 boom in green crab populations coincided with the loss of nearly fifty percent of the eelgrass in Casco Bay.

As we think about this winter’s warm water temperatures, green crabs, and their potential impacts, it is important to remember a common saying that any scientist will know: correlation does not imply causation. In a complex ecosystem like Casco Bay, there are many factors that influence the size of green crab populations. Temperature is only one of them.

“It would be misleading to say that we will certainly see more green crabs in the Bay this summer,” says Mike. “But with what we know from science and Maine’s history, it’s fair to say there is a good chance we will see more green crabs in the coming months.”

Listening to Casco Bay: the Clean Water Act, Climate Change, and More

We recently hosted an informative and thought provoking conversation at Listening to Casco Bay: the Clean Water Act, Climate Change, and More. 

Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca and Staff Scientist Mike Doan walked us through our latest data on the health of the Bay and shared their observations from the 2022 field season. Here is a recording of the full event for those of you who were not able to attend or want to revisit the conversation.

If you don’t have time to watch the full recording, here are a few key moments you may want to check out:

In this 2 minute clip, Mike presents 30 years of watertemperature data that show Casco Bay is warming at a rapid rate. Casco Bay has warmed by more than 3 degrees fahrenheit over the past three decades. “This increase in temperature affects everything we do,” says Mike.

 

 

In this 5 minute clip, Mike shared temperature and dissolved oxygen data we collected from the Presumpscot River this summer. The Presumpscot is the largest river that flows into Casco Bay.

 

 

 

In this 4 minute clip, Ivy helps us understand how the Clean Water Act is structured to prevent pollution. “In essence, the Clean Water Act says: thou shall not pollute, unless you have a permit to do so,” says Ivy.

P.S. You can listen to the Bay yourself by checking out data from our Continuous Monitoring Stations.

Decades of Data: A Watershed Year for Science

This year we are marking two important milestones: our 30th season of monitoring the water quality of Casco Bay and the first full-year of having three Continuous Monitoring Stations in the water.

Staff Scientist Mike Doan says that both our Seasonal Sampling and Continuous Monitoring efforts are crucial to our mission to protect the health of the Bay. “Casco Bay covers more than 200 square miles of water,” he explains. “Our monitoring programs are designed to efficiently measure how healthy various parts of the Bay are while tracking how our waters are changing over time.”

“We are proud to say that we have stuck with science for the long-haul,” says Will Everitt, Executive Director of Friends of Casco Bay. “It takes tenacity to stick with any long-term project. It takes committed supporters and donors to ensure that we have the resources to continue this work year in and year out. If you are one of those supporters, thank you. You’ve helped us reach these milestones.”

The Casco Bay Estuary Partnership (CBEP), one of 28 federal National Estuary Programs, is among the many entities that put our data to use. “For three decades, Friends of Casco Bay’s monitoring efforts have provided a crucial part of the data used to understand the condition of Casco Bay,” says Curtis Bohlen, Director of CBEP. “The data are relied on by scientists and regulators alike. Friends’ thirty year history of monitoring the Bay provides a long term perspective crucial for understanding how the Bay is — and is not — changing.”

30 Years of Seasonal Sampling

Our Seasonal Sampling program continues to add to one of the most-important and long-term marine water quality data sets in New England. Data from this program helped to designate Casco Bay as a Federal No Discharge Area and upgrade Clean Water Act classifications for large areas of the Bay, ensuring our waters are better protected for years to come.

From May to October, Staff Scientist Mike Doan and Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca take to our Baykeeper boat or truck and travel to 22 sites across the Bay.

“We are providing a health check-up for the Bay each day we are out there,” Mike explains. “Like a doctor checking your blood pressure, if we find an anomaly or problem, we can do more thorough investigations.”

365 Days of Continuous Data

Mike and Ivy use a scientific device that measures water quality characteristics called a data sonde to measure temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, salinity, chlorophyll, turbidity, and water depth. They also collect water samples that we send to a laboratory to measure total nitrogen.

As of May 20, 2022, Friends has a full year of around-the-clock data from all three of our Continuous Monitoring Stations. In May 2021, we launched two new Continuous Monitoring Stations in Casco Bay, located off Harpswell to the east and in Portland Harbor to the west. These two Stations joined our original station off the coast of Yarmouth, near the coastal center of the Bay, first launched in 2016.

Mike designed our Continuous Monitoring Stations, which combine a data sonde with a sensor that collects carbon dioxide data. “We launched the stations to measure how the Bay is changing,” says Mike. “By looking at data collected every hour on the hour, we can better see through the noise of daily and seasonal changes, and understand how climate change may be impacting our waters. Having three stations up and running for more than a year now is giving us a clearer picture of what is happening in very different regions of the Bay.”

Our Continuous Monitoring Stations are maintained thanks to the generous support of the Casco Bay Estuary Partnership and the more than 700 Friends of the Bay who gave to our Climate Change and Casco Bay Fund.

New data, NEW insight

Presenting data is like telling a story. When we look at a graph of our water quality data, it tells us a story about the health of Casco Bay. Seeing the same data in a different kind of graph can help us see another perspective, another side of the story. 

This graph compares 2022 daily mean temperatures (the blue line) to historic temperature data (the gray line and shaded area) from our Yarmouth Continuous Monitoring Station. Additional graphs in this style for other water quality data — including dissolved oxygen, pH, salinity, and more —   recorded at our Yarmouth station can be found here

Staff Scientist Mike Doan is using a new kind of graph to present data from our Continuous Monitoring Station in Yarmouth. “This style of graph is one that climate scientists like to use to present long term data sets,” says Mike. “Using it helps us compare data from a single year to the historic range of conditions we’ve seen at our Yarmouth station.” 

The Yarmouth station is one of our three Continuous Monitoring Stations in Casco Bay. These stations use high-tech oceanographic equipment to collect data on multiple water quality parameters and help us assess how the Bay may be changing. Our stations located off Harpswell and in Portland Harbor were launched last spring. Our Yarmouth station was launched in 2016. With over six years of data from that station, we can compare data from a specific year to the historic range of conditions we have recorded there.  

To illustrate this point and get us all thinking about what these data can reveal about the health of Casco Bay, consider the graph below and the information it presents.

This graph compares 2021 daily mean temperatures to historic temperature data recorded at our Yarmouth Continuous Monitoring Station. 

Daily Means 2021: the green line represents the mean water temperature at the Yarmouth station for every day in 2021. A “mean” is just another word for an average.

Daily Means 2016 – 2021: the dark gray line represents the mean water temperature at the Yarmouth station for every day between 2016 – 2021. In other words, this dark gray line represents the daily average water temperature over the past six years. 

Range of Daily Means 2016 – 2021: The gray shaded area represents the range of daily mean water temperatures at the Yarmouth station between 2016 – 2021. It helps us to visualize the difference between the highest and lowest daily average temperature recorded at the station. The top of the gray shaded area represents the highest daily average temperature and the bottom represents the lowest daily average temperature recorded on any given day over the past six years. 

Mike says that 2021 was one of the hottest years we have seen at the Yarmouth station. “This graph shows us just how hot the year was. We can see that for much of 2021, the green line is close to the top of our historical range of temperature values,” explains Mike. “In the context of the past six years, 2021 was a particularly warm year for the Bay.”

What do you see in these new graphs?

Let us know by emailing keeper [at] cascobay [dot] org and visit this page of our website to see our latest data on salinity, dissolved oxygen, pH, and other parameters from the Yarmouth station presented in this new style of graph.

What was your favorite Casco Bay moment of 2021?

As this year comes to an end, let’s reflect and celebrate the many ways that we worked together to protect the health of Casco Bay in 2021. Here are our top ten stories of the year:

1) We crossed the finish line on our Climate Change and Casco Bay Fund. More than 700 Friends of the Bay contributed $1.5 million to the Climate Change and Casco Bay Fund for Technology, Monitoring, and Community Engagement. These funds enabled us to launch two new Continuous Monitoring Stations in Casco Bay and will support the maintenance of all three of our stations for the next decade.

Mike deploys our Portland Harbor Continuous Monitoring Station
Mike deploys our Portland Harbor Continuous Monitoring Station

2) We launched two new Continuous Monitoring Stations. With the Climate Change and Casco Bay Fund completed, we launched two new Continuous Monitoring Stations in Casco Bay! This past spring, our new stations splashed down in Harpswell and Portland Harbor, and Staff Scientist Mike Doan walked us through their preliminary data.

3) We successfully advocated for forward-looking climate change legislation Augusta. We were thrilled to see Maine pass legislation to adapt our stormwater, land use, and planning laws to incorporate climate change projections, a top priority of Maine’s Climate Action Plan. Scores of Friends submitted testimony in support of “LD 1572 Resolve, To Analyze the Impact of Sea Level Rise.” If you were one of them, thank you!

4) We celebrated the career and contributions of Cathy Ramsdell. Our former Executive Director, Cathy Ramsdell, retired in September after 18 amazing years at the helm of Friends of Casco Bay. We hosted an outdoor celebration in honor of Cathy at Portland Yacht Services on August 26. At the event, staff and board members shared reflections on Cathy’s leadership and Gulf of Maine poet Gary Lawless read his poem, “For Casco Bay, for Us.

5) Water Reporter Rick Frantz revealed the impacts of erosion. We have all heard that a picture is worth a thousand words, but have you ever seen a photo that is worth 17 years? Volunteer Water Reporter Rick Frantz compared photos of Diamond Cove Beach from 2004 and 2021 to reveal the slow work of erosion over nearly two decades.

6) We supported many legislative victories for Maine’s environment and Casco Bay. Casco Bay will be cleaner and healthier, and our communities will be safer due to the many environmental victories passed in Augusta this year. Issues facing the Bay that are being addressed by new policies and laws include: sea level rise, expired marine flare disposal, changing eelgrass and salt marsh habitat, and public coastal access.

Volunteer Water Reporters and Friends of Casco Bay staff visited two Brunswick salt marshes in early September, where they shared observational insights and discussed local ecology.

7) Water Reporters documented an eelgrass mystery in Casco Bay. Volunteer Water Reporters observed an increase in torn and uprooted eelgrass in Casco Bay between August and September. Eelgrass is critically important to the health of the marine environment as it supports fisheries, maintains water quality, and acts as a carbon sink.

8) Staff Scientist Mike Doan showed us how phytoplankton affect the Bay. Many factors cause seasonal changes in Casco Bay. The activity of phytoplankton is one of them. Looking at data from our Continuous Monitoring Stations we see how these microscopic plants at the base of the marine food web can dramatically change the levels of acidity, oxygen, nutrient availability, and other factors in the Bay.

9) We monitored and supported cleanup efforts after an oil spill closed Willard Beach. It has been a rough few months for Willard Beach in South Portland. In addition to a sewer main break in October, Willard Beach was closed for three days at the end of August to accommodate cleanup efforts and protect public health from an oil spill. Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca toured the site of the spill and commended the cleanup efforts led by state, local, and private agencies.

10) Water Reporters learned about oil spills and algal blooms from regional experts. Volunteer Water Reporters connected with regional experts from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Maine Department of Marine Resources in an illuminating discussion about identifying and reporting oil spills and algal blooms seen on Casco Bay.

We look forward to keeping you updated in the New Year. Thank you for being a Friend of Casco Bay.