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Water Reporter

Water Reporter — Be the eyes of the Bay

We are in the process of changing our Water Reporter program. We will be moving to a different app that is more user-friendly for our volunteers. This new app is in development.

 If you are new to Water Reporter and are interested in participating, please contact Community Organizer and Volunteer Coordinator Sara Freshley to learn how to get involved. You can email her at sfreshley [at] cascobay [dot] org.

If you are already a Water Reporter, you can continue to use the Water Reporter app as is until further notice. 

As an organization guided by science, we know the importance of careful observation. Identifying sources of pollution, tracking algal blooms, observing changing habitats, and recording wildlife sightings help us answer the questions: 

How healthy is Casco Bay? How is Casco Bay changing?

With 200 square miles of water and 578 miles of coastline, Casco Bay is large and our staff cannot be everywhere at once. That is why we rely on our community of Water Reporters to collect observational data, helping us to act as the eyes and ears of Casco Bay.

We all hold the responsibility to take care of the health of the Bay. One way you can help is by becoming a volunteer Water Reporter.

Please note: If you see an emergency along the Bay like a stranded or injured animal or person, please contact the appropriate authority. You can find a list of them here.

How it works

Volunteer Water Reporters use their smartphones to photograph algal blooms, coastal erosion, sea level rise, pollution, eelgrass, sightings of coastal and marine wildlife, and other changes they are seeing on and around Casco Bay. Photographs, latitude and longitude data, and observational notes are then shared with other Water Reporters and our staff through the Water Reporter app. 

Water Reporter is the name of our volunteer program and the smartphone app that we use to post our photos and observations. Water Reporters are the community members participating in the program.

Water Reporters’ documentation has helped to spur emergency responses to pollution and algal blooms, identify impaired streams flowing into the Bay, and document evidence of climate change. Over time, Water Reporters’ contributions are helping us amass a collection of visual data on the health of the Bay and how it may be changing.

If you care about Casco Bay and want to have a meaningful, positive impact on our efforts to advocate for solutions and protect the health of our coastal waters, please join us as a volunteer Water Reporter.

Join us – Sign up as a Water Reporter

Ways to participate

Our Water Reporter program was launched with versatility in mind, designed to adapt to the capabilities and schedules of our volunteers. In general, there are two ways that Water Reporters participate in the program: 

As you see it, on the fly


Many of the most powerful Water Reporter images are captured by volunteers who are simply in the right place at the right time. As Water Reporters are out and about around Casco Bay, they keep an eye out for evidence of rising seas, algal blooms, wildlife, and more. By taking a moment while walking on the beach or paddling in a kayak to snap a timely photo, our Water Reporters can have a big impact on improving the health of Casco Bay. 

Site-specific and high-frequency

Our most dedicated Water Reporters often commit to tracking a specific site on Casco Bay and posting at regular intervals. Keeping an eye on a unique location throughout the year helps us better understand how the Bay may be changing. This is also a great reason to spend more time on the Bay. Many Water Reporters share that regular participation has helped them to learn more about coastal ecology and build a deeper relationship with our marine waters.

What have Water Reporters been posting?

Click on the map of Water Reporter posts to see 100 of the most recent Water Reporter posts in the Casco Bay Watershed.

Locations to observe

We are interested in learning of any changes seen anywhere around the Bay. This map serves as a way a way to suggest some location ideas. Please don’t limit your observations to these locations.

How Water Reporters have made a difference

10 Ways to Get Ready for Earth Day

April 17, 2024

Earth Day is on Monday, April 22, 2024. Here at Friends of Casco Bay, while every day is an opportunity to advocate for and protect clean waters and healthy communities, Earth Day is our reminder that collectively we can take positive actions to help nature and inspire hope. “To be hopeful means to be uncertain about the… Read more

Our Top 10 Moments of 2023

December 21, 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… Read more

Water Reporters Deepen Their Knowledge of Casco Bay

December 19, 2023

What are some techniques for observing the natural world around me more mindfully? How can you tell if a saltwater marsh is healthy or if it is eroding at an unnatural pace? What are some commonly overlooked invasive species that are affecting Casco Bay? How is nitrogen pollution linked to the growth of… Read more

Ever-Changing Casco Bay

December 8, 2023

Casco Bay is ever–changing. 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 Ever–Changing Casco Bay event on November 28, Staff Scientist Mike Doan dove into the data we use to track… Read more

Join us! Stormwater impacts and water sampling

August 30, 2023

Want to know how heavy rainfalls, like those we have experienced this summer, impact Casco Bay? Join Friends of Casco Bay staff in South Portland on September 8 at 10 a.m. to learn about the impacts of stormwater on our local waters using both observational and scientific data. What: Stormwater Impacts and Water… Read more

Water Reporter Event: Salt Marsh Restoration

June 14, 2023

On June 29, Water Reporters are invited to Wharton Point in Brunswick to learn about salt marshes from an expert scientist. Salt marshes are under threat from erosion, rising sea levels, and green crabs. Come and learn about these important coastal ecosystems in Casco Bay and what to look for as Water Reporters when observing changes… Read more