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:

Looking back and looking ahead: leadership at Friends

September 21, 2021

Dear Friends, It has already been three weeks since we gathered with 200 Friends of the Bay to celebrate the career, contributions, and retirement of our longtime Executive Director, Cathy Ramdsell. Cathy’s send-off party, held outdoors at Portland Yacht Services’ boatyard, marked our first in-person event since the onset of… Read more

How does something so tiny drive change in the Bay?

September 2, 2021

What factors drive seasonal changes in the waters of Casco Bay? Staff Scientist Mike Doan addresses this question by looking at recent data from our Continuous Monitoring Stations in our latest Mike’s Field Notes video. Our Continuous Monitoring Stations collect data hourly on a variety of key water quality and… Read more

Mike deploys our Portland Harbor Continuous Monitoring Station

Celebrating Data and New Stations

July 26, 2021

  Last month we celebrated the launch of our new Continuous Monitoring Stations by taking a first look at the data they are collecting in Casco Bay. Staff Scientist Mike Doan walked us through preliminary data on temperature, salinity, pH, chlorophyll, and carbon dioxide from all three Continuous Monitoring Stations.… Read more

Why does Casco Bay’s water look so clear?

June 4, 2021

Peering over the side of the R/V Joseph E. Payne, Staff Scientist Mike Doan could see schools of small fish swimming in the water below, while the red hood of a lion’s mane jellyfish floated by on the other side of our Baykeeper boat. What caught Mike’s eye, however, was… Read more

Mike deploys our Portland Harbor Continuous Monitoring Station

Continuous Monitoring Stations are Game Changer

June 3, 2021

More than 700 Friends have contributed $1.5 million to help maintain three stations for a decade. Casco Bay is invaluable to the economy and quality of life in Maine. Our coastal waters provide us with food, recreation, transportation, inspiration, and economic opportunities. But Casco Bay is changing and changing quickly.… Read more

Join us: new stations, a celebration, and data!

May 20, 2021

As spring settles on Casco Bay, ospreys return to their nests, and alewives leave the sea and swim upriver to spawn in freshwater. The arrival of spring has always brought seasonal shifts to Casco Bay, but today climate change and human influences are impacting our coastal waters at a scale… Read more