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:

Good news for Casco Bay!

April 16, 2021

We have great news to share: we reached the $1.5 million goal for our Climate Change and Casco Bay Fund for Technology, Monitoring, and Community Engagement! We launched the Fund to be used over the next decade to establish and maintain three oceanographic Continuous Monitoring Stations to collect data on… Read more

Celebrating Data From Our New Continuous Monitoring Stations — A Casco Bay Matters Event

April 15, 2021

We are hosting an online event to share data from all three of our Continuous Monitoring Stations and to celebrate the ways the Climate Change and Casco Bay Fund will enhance our efforts to improve and protect the health of the Bay for years to come. On Wednesday, June 16,… Read more

An annual spring awakening in the Bay

March 24, 2021

As winter comes to a close and the days get longer, an annual awakening occurs in Casco Bay. Populations of phytoplankton – microscopic algae that form the base of the ocean food web – rapidly reproduce as longer days leave more time to harness the sun’s energy for photosynthesis. The… Read more

Our top 10 moments of 2020

January 4, 2021

As this very odd year comes to a close, let’s celebrate the large and small ways our community helped us protect the health of Casco Bay in 2020. Here are our top ten for the year: 1.) On December 2, the Maine Climate Council released its four-year Climate Action Plan, “Maine Won’t Wait.” We… Read more

Good news for Maine and for Casco Bay

December 4, 2020

We have exciting news! Maine’s Climate Action Plan “Maine Won’t Wait” was released on Tuesday. The plan is a four-year road map for the state to follow as we work to address the causes and impacts of climate change. I serve on the Coastal and Marine Working Group of the… Read more

Warming Waters Are Hot Topic

November 10, 2020

  Day after day, we watched temperature records being set. This year has been hotter than usual. Out of the first 243 days of this year, January through August, 2020,  132 days exhibited a daily average temperature higher than established for that day in any of the prior four years, 2016… Read more