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And how is your summer going?

Summer is going swimmingly here at Friends of Casco Bay, and we have a lot of good news to share:

  • Our priority legislative bill to create a state-level Climate Change and Ocean Acidification Council was incorporated nearly word-for-word into the Governor’s comprehensive Climate Change Council bill. An Act to Promote Clean Energy Jobs and to Establish the Maine Climate Council passed with strong bipartisan support. In recognition of her yeoman’s work on this issue, Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca was invited to attend the bill signing by Governor Janet Mills on June 26th.

 

  • Our water quality sampling season is well underway, as we continue to add to our long-term dataset at 22 shoreside and deepwater sites around the Bay. You may see Research Associate Mike Doan and Casco Baykeeper Ivy making the rounds by land and by sea every few weeks from April through October.

 

  • Photo by Kevin Morris

    Since early June, Executive Director Cathy Ramsdell has been attending bi-weekly meetings of the South Portland Fertilizer Working Group to assist the City in drafting a fertilizer ordinance.

 

  • July 20 marks the third anniversary of the launch of our Continuous Monitoring Station in Yarmouth. Our Monitoring Station is fondly nicknamed the “Cage of Science” because its high-tech sensors are housed inside a transformed lobster trap. The instruments measure temperature, salinity, oxygen, pH, and carbon dioxide.
    Photo by Kevin Morris

    Together, they collect data once an hour, every hour, year round.  At this time of year, Mike has to scrape off a new array of marine hitchhikers whenever he hauls up the Cage of Science to download data.

 

  • ‘Tis the season to think about what not to put on your lawn! With five workshops behind her, Associate Director Mary Cerullo has scheduled another five BayScaping presentations for August and beyond. She is happy to talk with neighborhood groups about green yards and a blue Bay.

 

  • There has been such a demand by community groups to volunteer for coastal cleanups and storm drain stenciling projects that Community Engagement Coordinator Sarah Lyman and summer intern Alexis Burns have been very busy. They already have hosted seven events with 106 participants who collected an estimated 238 lbs. of trash and stenciled 238 storm drains!

 

  • Photo by Kevin Morris

    Our new pumpout boat, Headmaster, was launched on June 10th to pump raw sewage from the marine toilets of recreational boats. Captain Jim Splude, our congenial pumpout boat coordinator, can go about his business more efficiently now with a new boat that has more than twice the holding capacity of the old one.

 

  • Our Water Reporter volunteer project is expanding as we hoped and planned. Nearly 40 enthusiastic volunteers attended our Water Reporter training on June 24. Volunteers continue to sign up to keep watch over specific areas of the Bay.
    July 10 was the first anniversary of Friends of Casco Bay’s launch of the Water Reporter app. To date, 162 volunteers in this observing network have made more than 500 posts. We call that a great start!

Volunteer Appreciation & Annual Member’s Meeting

Friends of Casco Bay’s 2016 Volunteer Appreciation Celebration & 2018 Annual Members Meeting

Volunteer Appreciation Celebration
& 2018 Annual Members Meeting

Thank you all for a great event! You can see more about our Citizen Steward awardees and the photos here: https://www.cascobay.org/2018/01/25/volunteers-great-service-casco-bay/

Join us as we recognize those who help us protect the health of Casco Bay. We will provide the updated Casco Bay Health Index based on data collected by volunteer Citizen Stewards over the past 25 years, and we will share new program directions.

When: Tuesday, January 23, 2018, 5:30-8 p.m.
5:30 Hors d’oeuvres, cash bar, Program begins at 6:30

Our event is on for Tuesday, January 23! We have been watching the weather closely—the messy wintery mix will turn into rain and 40 degree weather by midday on Tuesday, January 23, and temps will stay in the 40s until well past our event.

Parking is easy and FREE at DiMillo’s—if you are driving with guests, you can drop your passengers off right at the ramp under the drive-thru overhang leading to the floating restaurant.

WhereDiMillo’s On the Water, 25 Long Wharf, Portland, ME 04101
Free parking while at event.

Donation to attend is appreciated, not required. Suggested donation: $10 per person
If making a donation to attend this event, RSVP here. 

If you want to RSVP without making a donation, email Sarah Lyman at slyman [at] cascobay [dot] org or call our office at (207) 799-8574.

 

Barry Sheff, Board Member Friends of Casco Bay

Community Connection: Barry Sheff

Barry Sheff, Board Member Friends of Casco Bay
Barry Sheff, Board Member Friends of Casco Bay Photo credit: Kevin Morris

Friends of Casco Bay’s Board members are key partners in protecting Casco Bay.
Here’s how, in their own words:

Barry Sheff: “I drive a Prius and explain to the kids why it’s not a truck.”

Barry is an engineer with Woodard & Curran. “I like to solve problems. That’s what I like about Friends of Casco Bay. It’s trying to prevent and solve problems on the Bay. The work they are doing to support pesticide bans is hugely important to help municipalities. We need more catch basin stenciling. It’s education, education, education, but cities shouldn’t be relying on Friends to do it all. Doing education is part of a municipal obligation under the Clean Water Act.

You can see how other community members are partnering with us to protect the Bay on our Community Connection page.

Derek Pelletier, Board Member Friends of Casco Bay

Community Connection: Derek Pelletier

Derek Pelletier, Board Member Friends of Casco Bay
Derek Pelletier, Board Member Friends of Casco Bay

Friends of Casco Bay’s Board members are key partners in protecting Casco Bay. Here’s how, in their own words:

Derek Pelletier: “We don’t preach about what you can do. We prefer to lead by example.

Derek is an aquatic ecologist, specializing in water quality issues. We first met Derek when he offered to help enter water quality data for Friends of Casco Bay more than a decade ago.

Derek’s scientific knowledge informs his approach to caring for his local environment.“When I started in grad school, l liked thinking about systems on a watershed basis, taking the ‘downstream’ view. My background in whole systems thinking informs my awareness that “It all ends up in the ocean.’”

Derek and his wife Maryann have shared that understanding with their children Levi and Charlotte. They all bike everywhere from their Deering neighborhood in Portland. They do own a car, but even in rain or snow, Derek rarely drives it to Board meetings.

You can see how other community members are partnering with us to protect the Bay on our Community Connection page.

Joan Benoit Samuelson, Friends of Casco Bay Board Member

Community Connection: Joan Benoit Samuelson

Joan Benoit Samuelson, Friends of Casco Bay Board Member
Joan Benoit Samuelson, Friends of Casco Bay Board Member

Friends of Casco Bay’s Board members are key partners in protecting Casco Bay.
Here’s how, in their own words:

Joan Benoit Samuelson:Having grown up in Cape Elizabeth near Casino Beach, spending many a summer on Cliff Island, and now living in Freeport with tidal frontage, I know that Casco Bay is changing. There is a lot of tangible evidence of climate change—an influx of invasive species, the decline of indigenous species, whether it’s due to green crabs or algae blooms caused by increased nitrogen.”

“Whatever the cause, can all pull an oar and do something to improve conditions in Casco Bay. We can make daily small changes, such as doing BayScaping, lawn care without using pesticides and fertilizers, and keeping stormwater from running off our yards and spaces.”

“It’s important to protect this resource. This place is a jewel. I realized early on that Casco Bay is connected to the world’s oceans when I threw a note in a bottle off Casino Beach (Cape Elizabeth), and it was picked up by a schoolteacher in England.”

“It’s a beautiful resource we all need to protect. Time and tide wait for no man—or woman. The time is now to take action.”

You can see how other community members are partnering with us to protect the Bay on our Community Connection page.

Peter Dufour, Friends of Casco Bay Board Member

Community Connection: Peter Dufour

Peter Dufour, Friends of Casco Bay Board Member
Peter Dufour, Friends of Casco Bay Board Member
Sidewalk Buttler Sponsored by Dufour Tax Group LLC
Sidewalk Buttler Sponsored by Dufour Tax Group LLC

Friends of Casco Bay’s Board members are key partners in protecting Casco Bay.
Here’s how, in their own words:

Peter Dufour: “We want our legacy to be getting rid of cigarette butts.”

CPA Peter Dufour and his wife Kelly have an office overlooking Commercial Street in Portland. “Cigarette butts are everywhere in the city. The whole sidewalk in front of the bars is littered with cigarette butts.”

Friends of Casco Bay connected them with Mike Roylos, creator of Sidewalk Buttlers, metal cylinders that hold discarded cigarette butts that are later recycled. Peter and Kelly funded five new Sidewalk Buttlers along Commercial Street, enough to keep 20,000 butts a year out of the Bay. The devices (shown below) hang on lampposts, within easy reach of patrons leaving the bars and restaurants.

You can see how other community members are partnering with us to protect the Bay on our Community Connection page.

Community Connection: Tollef Olson

Friends of Casco Bay’s Board members are key partners in protecting Casco Bay.
Here’s how, in their own words:

Tollef Olson: “Sea farming has all the benefits with none of the detriments.”

After stints as a treasure hunter, urchin diver, restauranteur, and sea captain, Tollef launched Bangs Island Mussels in Casco Bay in 1997. His newest venture is raising kelp. Tollef says that responsible aquaculture is good for the ocean. “Shellfish and seaweeds are ecologically beneficial. They recycle the fertilizers that come down the hill from lawns and golf courses. Seaweed takes up the nitrogen, phosphorus, and carbon dioxide, release spores that feed phytoplankton and shellfish, and supply food for humans.”

You can see how other community members are partnering with us to protect the Bay on our Community Connection page.

Jack Thomas, Friends of Casco Bay Board Member

Community Connection: Jack Thomas

Jack Thomas, Friends of Casco Bay Board Member
Jack Thomas, Friends of Casco Bay Board Member

Friends of Casco Bay’s Board members are key partners in protecting Casco Bay.

Jack Thomas leads a double life. At dawn, he is a lobsterman setting traps off South Freeport from his 32-foot lobster boat Dark’n’Stormy. By 9 a.m., he’s at his desk at RBC Wealth Management, advising clients on how they should invest their funds. Both personas are a good match for his avocation: President of the Board of Friends of Casco Bay.

Jack grew up in South Freeport, where he still sails and lobsters. Over the past 20 years, Jack has taken hundreds of people out on his lobster boat to share the beauty of the Harraseeket River region and surrounding islands.

Jack and his wife Susan have always engaged in outdoor activities with their three children, now young adults. Whether skiing, fishing, kayaking, camping, or cruising around Casco Bay, they are reminded of the advice Jack’s father gave him: “Wherever you go, leave the place in better shape than when you found it.” Jack’s support of Friends is one way he continues to fulfill that responsibility.

You can see how other community members are partnering with us to protect the Bay on our Community Connection page.

Blue Mussels: Hanging by a thread in Casco Bay

Ann Thayer on boat
Ann Thayer searches for mussel beds along the shores of Casco Bay.

When Ann Thayer goes out in her Boston Whaler, it’s not just to enjoy time on beautiful Casco Bay. This Friends of Casco Bay Board Member is scouting out mussel beds, and more often than not, she is not finding them.

Blue mussels (Mytilus edulis) are the common mussels found along the Maine coast. Ann explains, “In addition to providing a rich habitat for other sea life, dense mussel beds can provide protection to the shorefront against the effects of storm surges. Mussels are filter feeders, and they can siphon up to 25 gallons of water a day as they feed on microscopic algae and nutrients in the water column. In short, they are important contributors to the Bay!”

For the past few years, anecdotal accounts suggest that mussel beds once piled high with layers of living mussels are now all but gone. Ann, an environmental scientist by training, offered to lead a volunteer effort to survey the Bay to see if reports of disappearing mussel beds are true. Over the past two summers, she and a handful of other observers have looked at more than 25 areas between Portland and Harpswell, surveying by foot, kayak, and small boat.

Baby mussel spat, the floating plankton phase of mussels, appear to be plentiful in the water column. Commercial aquaculture growers are getting plenty of natural seed set on their ropegrown mussels. Juvenile mussels are being found on mooring ropes, wharf pilings, and floating docks. “It’s the intertidal and subtidal horizontal mussel beds that are missing,” Ann reports.

Dr. Brian Beal, Professor of Marine Ecology at University of Maine at Machias, and others suspect that bottom-dwelling crustaceans, such as lobsters, rock crabs, green crabs, and Asian shore crabs, may feed on baby mussels trying to establish a foothold on the ocean floor. But Brian says field testing is needed to prove or disprove this hypothesis. He suggests cordoning off some bottom areas from predators with cages or nets to see if juvenile mussels survive there.

Ann has found small juvenile mussels on flats in Brunswick. “What is disturbing is that when you do find pockets of mussels, they are just individuals of one age. You don’t find whole beds of mussels, with new mussels growing on older ones, like we used to see.”

Everyone seems to have a different theory as to why the once ubiquitous blue mussels have disappeared: green crabs and other predators, dragger nets destroying mussel beds, warming sea temperatures, and ocean acidification. Cathy Ramsdell, Friends of Casco Bay Executive Director/Casco Baykeeper Pro Tem, cautions, “There are a lot of theories, but there isn’t much research being done on the change in distribution patterns of blue mussels and the possible causes. All we have is speculation. Our current objective is to try to get a handle on presence or absence of beds along the coastline of Casco Bay.”

Ann Thayer says, “This project with Friends of Casco Bay is totally driven by citizen scientists. It’s another reason why our volunteers are so important. We are looking for people with small boats who can survey the eastern part of the Bay from Brunswick to the New Meadows River.” If you are interested in joining the search, contact Friends of Casco Bay at keeper [at] cascobay [dot] org.