What do you monitor?

First, our Continuous Monitoring Station uses the latest technology to collect data every hour, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This station is helping us understand the changing chemistry of our coastal waters and track trends over time.

Second, using our Baykeeper boat and truck, our staff scientists continue to add to our important long-term data set by collecting data at the surface and at profile sites at 22 locations every three weeks from May through October. We call this Seasonal Sampling Across Casco Bay. At some locations, we complete water column profiles, collecting readings every meter from surface to bottom.

Third, through our Nuisance Algal Bloom Tracking efforts we document the growth of algae patches around the Bay, and we solicit observations from volunteers through Water Reporter. These periodic efforts allow us to observe impacts on water quality and marine life. We also look for evidence of potential causes of the blooms.

We use Water Reporter to encourage folks to share what they see around the Bay. We combine these observations to provide a better understanding of conditions in Casco Bay. Volunteers document algal bloom events, water pollution and trash, shoreline erosion, marine wildlife sightings, and hightide impacts. We often investigate and refer these matters to the proper governmental authorities.

Data collected through these efforts (varies depending on project) include:

  • Direct measurements: temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, pH, chlorophyll, depth, partial pressure of carbon dioxide, color
  • Derived calculations: alkalinity, dissolved inorganic carbon, calcium carbonate saturation state
  • Analyses of water samples: total nitrogen, dissolved inorganic nitrogen (nitrate and nitrite, ammonium, silicate, phosphate)
  • Observations: photos and text descriptions of what volunteers and staff are seeing

Why do you monitor?

We see water as fundamental habitat. Clean marine water makes the difference – for all species living in and on the Bay, including us! Improving water quality is the heart and focus of our work at Friends of Casco Bay. The water in the Bay is vulnerable to a wide and changing array of impacts – from pollutants entering the Bay to the effects of climate change.

We have monitored Casco Bay for over 25 years. Our data set informs us of the overall health of the Bay. We continue monitoring a selection of sites, in part to focus on stressed areas where we are working to improve water quality and in part to track changes over the long term. We use our data to support our advocacy, for example, to write comments on NPDES permits advocating for stricter standards and to support testimony to the legislature. Our science also informs our work to connect with the community and underscore the behavioral changes we encourage to improve the environmental health of the Bay.

Our continuous monitoring station allows us to better understand the impacts of climate change on Casco Bay, including calculating the amount of calcium carbonate available to shell-forming organisms to build and maintain their shells.

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