Home » Science: We help you see what is going on beneath the surface of the Bay

Science: We help you see what is going on beneath the surface of the Bay

Before we started monitoring the water quality of Casco Bay, no one knew how healthy or polluted the Bay actually was. Thanks to the data we have been collecting at dozens of shoreside and offshore sites, we can state that the water temperature of Casco Bay has risen by 2.5°F, on average, since 1993.

Our long-term data set is enhanced by our Continuous Monitoring Station that has been monitoring the health of the Bay hourly, 365 days a year, since 2016. Anchored below a pier in Yarmouth, it provides the frequent, high-volume stream of data necessary to accurately track changes that may impact the oysters, clams, lobsters, and eelgrass within the Bay.

“Climate change is happening so rapidly, we needed to add to the way we collect data,” observed Research Associate Mike Doan. Since July 20, 2016, our Continuous Monitoring Station has been gathering data around the clock, all year long. Each month, we post information on 10 measures that document water quality at our monitoring site in Yarmouth, near the coastal midpoint of Casco Bay. 

Our Monitoring Station is fondly nicknamed the “Cage of Science” because its high-tech sensors are housed inside a converted lobster trap. These instruments measure temperature, salinity, oxygen, pH, carbon dioxide, and more.

These data help us gain new insights—and new questions–on the health of the Bay. Others are finding these data useful, too. Scientists use our data to inform their own research. Policy makers refer to our data to support legislative action on climate change. Classroom teachers have their students analyze our data to launch discussions on what humans can do to improve water quality. Recently, we discovered that young visitors to the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine measure the temperature and salinity of the Museum’s touch tank and compare their readings to our real-world data on Casco Bay.

We have posted our data online for all to see. Visit cascobay.org to see for yourself how Casco Bay is changing month by month.

The news media have recently reported on our plan to expand our array of Continuous Monitoring Stations to get a better understanding of the dynamics of Casco Bay:

We’re still monitoring the health of Casco Bay, and you can too

March 25, 2020

It is lonely out on the pier where Staff Scientist Mike Doan is collecting data on the health of Casco Bay — and he is playing it safe, taking his own selfie as seen here. We are continuing to monitor the health of Casco Bay. Our Continuous Monitoring Station is still… Read more

Donate to Climate Change and Casco Bay Fund

March 24, 2020

Friends of Casco Bay is creating a $1.5 million fund to be used over the next ten years to understand how Casco Bay is being affected by climate change. We will launch and maintain three oceanographic Continuous Monitoring Stations at three coastal sites around the Bay to collect data on… Read more

The Bay Is Blooming

March 4, 2020

What are the signs of spring for you? Chirping chickadees? Street sweeping? Longer daylight? Changing the clocks? (March 8th is the start of Daylight Savings Time!) The lengthening daylight jumpstarts the growth of phytoplankton, the single-celled plants that are the foundation of the ocean food web. Like plants on land, they… Read more

A warm winter, even in Casco Bay

February 20, 2020

If you are thinking this past January was unusually warm, you would not be wrong. January 2020 was Earth’s warmest January in 141 years of temperature records, according to NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. According to WCSH6 meteorologist Keith Carson, Portland’s average temperature from December 1, 2019, to February… Read more

We are celebrating our 30th—the “pearl anniversary”

January 8, 2020

Pearls are gemstones that mark a 30th anniversary. Pearls are symbolic of wisdom gained through experience. We have learned a lot in 30 years! A pearl is created by an oyster in response to an irritant. A pearl can form over time as an oyster secretes layer upon layer of… Read more

Three decades of success – the impact of Friends of Casco Bay

December 31, 2019

Friends of Casco Bay has a long history of success. Since our founding in 1989, our work-with, science-based approach has moved the needle toward a healthier, more protected Bay. We championed a halt to cruise ship pollution and won a No Discharge Area designation for Casco Bay, the first in… Read more