Climate change is affecting the health of Casco Bay faster than anyone could have predicted. Warming temperatures and increasing acidity threaten the ocean and the livelihoods of those who depend on the sea. Research is showing that changes in our coastal waters from climate change are putting lobstering, clamming, and aquaculture at risk.
Friends of Casco Bay invites you to attend Ocean Acidification, Climate Change, and You, a free event, open to all.
Staff scientist Mike Doan will talk about the warning signs we see in our monitoring data. Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca will share some of the impacts to our marine species and how Mainers are working together to respond to these threats. They look forward to your questions following the presentation.
Healthy marine waters are vital to Maine’s economy and quality of life.This is such an important issue that we are hosting this presentation at three locations in the coming weeks: Portland, South Portland, and Brunswick.
Casco Bay belongs to all of us. In 2019, we at Friends of Casco Bay are continuing our commitment to building a sense of shared ownership throughout our community, to help protect the health of this incredible resource. We see water as fundamental habitat and work to ensure that public policies keep the importance of the health of the Bay in mind.
We pursue policies, laws, and limits based on sound science. Our advocacy efforts take place in many forums—from town halls to the halls of the State House to Washington, D.C. Sometimes, we protect the health of the Bay using education, convincing one homeowner or business at a time to change their practices. Other times, especially on regional or more complex problems, we advocate for the enforcement of existing laws and for the creation of new laws or ordinances. We look forward to working with you this year.
Sea level is rising and we need your help to capture the changes.
Community members have observed the rise in sea level over the years. Coastal communities are experiencing greater storm surges and King Tides (astronomically high tides that occur a few times year). Maine geologists are planning for a three-foot sea level rise along the Maine coast over the next 100 years. The predicted impacts include beach erosion; landslides; loss of wildlife habitats; and drowned infrastructure, causing more sewage overflows, flooded streets, broken pipes, and costly repairs.
Now we need your help to capture these changes.
On January 5th, Maine Day of Service, you can take the first step towards helping Friends of Casco Bay record these changes over time by becoming a Water Reporter.
Your job will be to take photos during a “normal” high tide using your smartphone and the Water Reporter App. It is easy to take part and everything you need to do can be done between 9:30 AM and 11:30 AM. You will download the Water Reporter App, create an account, find a good location, and take a photo of the coast of Casco Bay between 10 AM and 11 AM. Some steps can be completed in advance, and they are noted below.
We will use the images to shine a light on the impacts of sea level rise and support local, state, and national policies to affect positive change.
Join Water Reporter following these instructions: https://www.cascobay.org/water-reporter/. We’d love to help you get set up. Call Sarah Lyman at (207) 370-7553. She is happy to help! Sarah can help you install the app and get set up quickly over the phone. This can be done before January 5th.
After getting set up with Water Reporter, follow these steps to take a sea level rise photo:
Find a good location: beaches, coastal parks, and public access sites along Casco Bay are perfect locations, for example, Back Cove or East End Beach in Portland, Fort William Park in Cape Elizabeth, Willard Beach, Bug Light, and Spring Point Light Parks in South Portland, Mackworth Island in Falmouth, Wolf Neck State Park in Freeport, Graveyard Point Town Landing in Harpswell, any of the islands in Casco Bay, and many many more places. Make sure you can stay safe!
Plan your arrival time so that you have enough time to get to your location and take a photo, or series of photos between 10 AM and 11 AM on January 5, 2019. High tide is at 10:30 AM in Portland.
Stand at least two strides up from the water line. Take the photo looking down the shoreline. Include some sort of structure or landmark in your picture, such as a pier, jetty, breakwater, building, or dock, for perspective. This will help you and others take images from the same location and angle in the future.
In the Water Reporter App, click on the center icon with the “+” symbol at the bottom of the screen which will bring you to the “Create Post” page.
Click on the camera icon and choose “camera” or “take a photo”. Ideally, you’ll want your picture to catch the wave as it reaches the highest water line. This definitely requires some patience and luck that no one walks through your picture just as the wave hits the highest point! But, even pictures that show the water line and some water from the waves are still very useful.
Stay in the same location as you complete the rest of the steps: confirm your location by clicking on the location pin, allow Water Reporter to access your location while using the app, and make sure the red dot is in the correct spot on the map (where the photo was taken) and click “Set.”
Share your post with Friends of Casco Bay.
iPhone: Click on the icon with the two figures and then also click on the Friends of Casco Bay logo. You will know you clicked the logo because a small green circle will appear next to it.
Android: Under “Share with your groups” click on the toggle next to Friends of Casco Bay, when the toggle is green it means it will be shared.
Troubleshooting: Sometime the tagging a group feature does not work. If this happens to you, skip this step and continue to post your photo. Once it is posted, you can edit your post and share it with the Friends of Casco Bay group.
Describe more about your photo in the comment field, including our suggested hashtag (you may use multiple hashtags): #sealevelrise.
Click “Save” (iPhone) or the send button (Android) to post your photo. Note: All times recorded on the map are in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).
It would be really helpful to obtain photos of high tide impacts or effects of storm surges throughout the year! We invite you to revisit this location during other high tides, including King Tides and during heavy rain events, which can be found here: https://me.usharbors.com/monthly-tides/Maine-Southern%20Coast/Portland%20Harbor/2019-01. King Tides, though naturally occurring, offer a glimpse of what flooding and future sea level rise will look like in our communities.
Thank you to the volunteers who helped fill this map with color!
Sixty-five volunteers have taken 860 color measurements of Casco Bay since we launched our Color by Numbers pilot project last spring. Our volunteers put a modern twist on a century-old oceanographic tool, using their smartphones and tablets to photograph and match the color of the water to the Forel-Ule color scale. This index of 21 colors—from blue to brown—measures color as a revealing indicator of the health of oceans and lakes.
Our next steps are to meet with our partners at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in Boothbay Harbor and evaluate the measurements collected this year. Then we will be assessing this pilot project over the winter.
Thank you to everyone who participated in this important pilot project!
We first met Jesse O’Brien of Down East Turf Farms when South Portland was considering passing an ordinance to limit the use of pesticides. Jesse is a practicing agronomist, who says, “If you want to get good turf, you need to start with good soil.”
Initially, Jesse expressed concern about how businesses would be able to meet (some) customers’ demands for perfect lawns or athletic fields if pesticides were banned.
Jesse attended innumerable public meetings. We were at those meetings as well, sharing our data on pesticides in stormwater and our BayScaping outreach, to encourage town officials to limit the use of lawn chemicals. Jesse served for nine months on Portland’s Pesticides and Fertilizers Task Force, alongside Friends of Casco Bay Executive Director Cathy Ramsdell. They found agreement in the philosophy, “Don’t treat your soil like dirt!”
In January 2018, Portland passed a ban on synthetic pesticides similar to one adopted by neighboring South Portland in 2016. The City of Portland Pesticide Use Ordinance went into effect for city property on July 1, 2018, and will extend to private property on January 1, 2019.
Although Jesse worries about the unintended consequences of the ordinances, “We are in agreement that there is an overuse and misuse of lawn chemicals. I want to focus on culture practices that reduce the need for inputs.”
He has put those words into action. Today, Jesse serves on South Portland’s seven-member Pest Management Advisory Committee. In September, he recruited a dozen yard care professionals to demonstrate best practices for organic lawn care at South Portland’s Bug Light Park—teaching about overseeding, watering, aeration, soil testing, and dealing with pests. We applaud Jesse and other landscapers for helping our communities grow green lawns that keep Casco Bay blue.
Autumn BayScaping tips you can take this fall that will pay off next spring: Let your soil breathe. Aeration allows water and nutrients to reach the grass’s roots. Seeding and composting on top of freshly-aerated soil can be done until the end of the growing season. Take away leaves soon after they fall. Lower lawn mower height. Gradually reduce your mowing height to 2 to 2.5 inches before the first frost to help prevent snow mold.
Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca is our watchdog on the health of the Bay. She is on or along the water as much as possible, even in her spare time! But she can’t be everywhere. Ivy says, “We rely upon our Volunteers to be our extra eyes on the Bay. Since July, increasingly Volunteers are joining me in using the WaterReporter app to share what they are seeing. These reports make a difference!”
“It’s like Facebook for the Bay,” says Ivy. We can communicate with our WaterReporters, commenting on their posts and reporting back on actions taken.
Here are some examples:
A WaterReporter captured a potential pollution incident—a large accumulation of fish scales in the water. The posting, complete with the time, location, and a photo, led to action to stop unpermitted, fish processing wastewater discharges into the Fore River in Portland.
We look forward to WaterReporter posts continuing to come in throughout the fall and winter, when we will be on the lookout for any unusual algal blooms, effects of large rainstorms or snowstorms on the Bay, and extreme high tides, called King Tides. The more of us who are keeping watch on the health of the Bay, the better protected our waters may be.
We launched ourWaterReporter Observing Networkin July. Since then, our volunteer WaterReporters have been reporting the good, the bad, and the ugly of what they have been seeing out on the Bay. Here are some recent examples:
Our Community Engagement Coordinator Sarah Lyman responded, remarking on how timely his observation was. “Good thing the International Coastal Cleanup day is on September 15th, 2018.”
Gerry Gposted, “Back Cove looks pretty good a few hours after high tide.”
We are especially interested in how tides, storm surges, and sea level rise will impact the coastline. We encourage observers to catalogue photos of different tidal and weather conditions at the same location over time.
Many of our Volunteers also participate in our Color by Numbers citizen science project. They use the EyeOnWater – Color app to compare the color of the water against a century-old oceanographic tool called the Forel-Ule color scale. Thisindex of 21 colors—from blue to brown—measures color as a revealing indicator of the health of oceans and lakes.
We depend on our ever-expanding network of Water Reporters to help us keep an eye on the Bay:
reporting problems, such as pollution or outbreaks of nuisance algal blooms,
commenting on daily changes in the Bay from tides to the character of the water, and
sharing the beauty of the Bay and its diverse plant and animal life.
Water Reporter is a worldwide social network that connects individuals with organizations like ours that are actively working to protect and improve water quality.
By using the Water Reporter app on their smartphones or tablets, Volunteers provide an instant record of their observation with a photo, the location, and the time. We can then use the app to respond and let you know what actions we took.
The Water Reporter app is an awesome way to record what is happening around our beautiful but changing Bay.
If you aren’t a Water Reporter already, we invite you to join Friends of Casco Bay’s Observing Network at cascobay.org/water-reporter. Each submission is displayed on a map, which can be seen on the sign-up page. Friends of Casco Bay Staff is notified of sightings. You can find your own posts, and you can see and comment on what others are observing around the Bay.
It’s our 11th Film Festival, so here are the Top 11 reasons to attend:
#11 Be proud that you are supporting Friends of Casco Bay by eating popcorn, watching 15 amazing films, sipping a cold beer, an Oakhurst iced tea, or a nice glass of wine—while having a great night out.
#10 Get together with 500 other Friends of Casco Bay.
#9 Enjoy free, indoor parking in Portland.
#8 Win awesome prizes in our popular raffle.
#7 See rowdy women challenging the outdoors.
#6 Take a journey of 3,200 miles over 32 years.
#5 Watch a film that will make you want to hug a polar bear (carefully).
#4 Experience what it’s like to change a light bulb at 1,481 feet.
#3 Be among the first to watch a new extreme sport—urban skiing!
#2 Buy tickets at the same price as last year. No inflation here!
#1 Be one of the last people to snag a ticket before they are sold out (as they have been for the past 10 years).
Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca acts as the eyes, ears, and voice of the Bay. She is on or along the water almost daily, but she can’t be everywhere. Ivy says, “We rely on volunteers to report conditions around the Bay. The Water Reporter App really helps those efforts because we instantly receive a photo that records the location and time. We can then use the app to respond and let you know what actions we took.”
For example, Morrigan shot this image of a gull sitting on a dead harbor sea near Bangs Island. We then promptly shared this information with Marine Mammals of Maine.
In Water Reporter, hashtags are used to categorize images and Morrigan used #wildlife for this image.
In another example, Ivy took photos of an algal bloom in South Portland near Forest City Cemetery, using #algae. These photos add to our understanding of potential sources of excess nutrient loading in the area.
Morrigan provided a close-up of the thick algal mat there.
And we like to get good news, too:
Rick reported new growth of eelgrass beds sprouting along the shoreline of Great Diamond Island.
Mark reported on #wildlife of a great blue heron and egrets taking flight in Maquoit Bay.
The Water Reporter app collects all of our observations in one place in an organized and searchable way. We are so excited about the ability of this tool to record what’s happening around our beautiful but changing Bay—the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Identifying the area of the Bay where you took the photo and categorizing the image with a hashtag, such as #algae, #pollution report, #trash, #wildlife, and #erosion, makes it easier for us to search for similar occurrences around the Bay.
Pop quiz: Can you figure out which of these photos is of Casco Bay?
The correct answer is B—but on any given day or part of the Bay, Casco Bay could look like any of these three pictures.
Why does it matter? Water color can be an important indicator of the environmental health of our waters.
For example, the bluish-green water from Casco Bay in the middle photo above was measured as 6 on the Forel-Ule scale. This tells us that the water color is dominated by phytoplankton, but also that some dissolved matter and some sediment may be present, which is typical for areas towards the open sea.
Image A is of water in the Caribbean and is a 2 on the scale—indigo blue with high light penetration. These waters have often low nutrient levels and low production of biomass.
Image C is from Lake Michigan and is a 18 on the scale. Brownish green to cola brown colors indicate waters with an extremely high concentrations of organic and inorganic compounds, which are typical for rivers and estuaries.
Since we launched our Color by Numbers pilot project using the EyeOnWater app three months ago, 178 people have signed up to measure the color of Casco Bay. The map of Casco Bay below shows where volunteers have taken 387 color measurements on their smartphones and tablets.
You are helping us learn more about the environmental health of Casco Bay. The data you collect, using the EyeOnWater app on your smartphone, will become part of a worldwide catalog of water color. The more measurements collected, the more our understanding of the Bay improves.
We look forward to keeping you posted about what we are learning.