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June 2020 Water Reporter Post of the Month

As we celebrate two years of Water Reporter posts, we have chosen Trish Peterson’s photo of a lush eelgrass bed at the Punchbowl on Jewell Island as our June post of the month!

We wish all eelgrass beds looked this healthy! Eelgrass has been designated by the federal government as essential fish habitat and a habitat of particular concern. It is a terrific indicator of water quality. Eelgrass needs clean, clear water to grow, and this eelgrass bed is a poster child for good health!

You may see eelgrass (Zostera marina) at the water’s edge at low tide, when the tops of the blades can be seen floating at the surface.

Sometimes, we see eelgrass that has been ravaged by green crabs or made less healthy by too much nitrogen pollution—the same pollutant that causes nuisance algal blooms.

Trish’s post, besides being astoundingly beautiful, will help us compare healthy and less healthy eelgrass beds. Through our Baykeeping work, we advocate for solutions that lighten nitrogen loads to Casco Bay, and we are thinking hard about possible solutions to green crab degradation of eelgrass beds.

We thank Trish for her very active role as one of 229 Water Reporters who help us observe and track changes in and across Casco Bay. Trish has been a volunteer Water Reporter since February 2019. She has been taking photos all around the Bay, posting more than 100 observations about the Bay on the Water Reporter app since then.

“When I’m taking photos as a volunteer Water Reporter, it feels like I’m part photojournalist and part environmentalist!” says Trish. “By learning to identify things like algal blooms and eelgrass beds, I’m not only gaining a growing awareness of the marine environment, but also, in the larger picture, helping to improve the health of Casco Bay. In essence, Water Reporting has been fun, rewarding and educational. With the support of the staff at Friends of Casco Bay, it has been a good fit for me in retirement!”

If you are interested in becoming a Water Reporter like Trish, email Community Engagement Coordinator Sarah Lyman to find out how to get started.

Did you see this eelgrass post on Water Reporter from Angela (Angie) Brewer, Biologist III at Maine Department of Environmental Protection?

Angie posted a photo of an eelgrass blade shredded by a green crab and asked us to keep an eye out for similar damage.

She also asked fellow Water Reporters to keep an eye out for white brown discolorations or brown discolorations in the water around the Bay, especially in the Brunswick area. Please post photos on Water Reporter if you see these discolorations. Water Reporters can also comment on Angie’s post to update her on what you are seeing.