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Oil spills and algal blooms on Casco Bay

As you may know, our volunteer Water Reporters help us improve the health of Casco Bay by documenting concerning conditions observed on our coastal waters.

Last week, we connected our volunteers with regional experts in an illuminating and informative discussion about identifying threats to the health of Casco Bay: Do I report this? When to report sheens, colors, or foams.

Volunteer Water Reporters were joined by Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca and two guest experts: William Whitmore from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and Bryant Lewis from Maine Department of Marine Resources. Together, they discussed how to identify oil spills and algal blooms that we may observe on Casco Bay.

If you are curious about how to keep a lookout for these problems out on the Bay, check out these short video clips from the training:

In this two minute clip, Willie reviews the steps for identifying an oil spill. He encourages us to use our eyes and our noses to answer two key questions: Is there a source? And Does it smell?

Bryant shares that Casco Bay is a regional hotspot for Harmful Algal Blooms. These blooms produce toxins that can harm sea life like shellfish, and in turn harm humans who eat contaminated seafood. Harmful Algal Blooms are caused by only a few of the many species of algae that live and bloom in Casco Bay.

Karenia mikimotoi is a species of brown-colored algae that creates harmful algal blooms in Casco Bay. Smaller blooms are often found along the shore with a wispy texture. Larger blooms can cover an entire cove or section of the Bay!

If you are interested in attending future training events and helping us keep an eye on the health of Casco Bay, hit reply and let me know you are interested in being a volunteer Water Reporter. Interested in watching the whole training? Here’s the full 52-minute video of the event.