Monitoring Casco Bay
Former Executive Director Cathy Ramsdell and staff from Friends of Casco Bay conduct first-time testing for microplastics in 2016. (Courtesy FoCB/Kevin Morris)
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Portland-area residents will have the opportunity to view footage of Casco Bay with Friends of Casco Bay Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca and staff scientist Mike Doan in an upcoming Zoom session.

The meeting, titled “What Casco Bay is Telling Us,” is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 27 from noon-1 p.m., and will be conducted by Frignoca and Doan as if viewers were out on the bay with them. They will discuss their observations from the past summer as they share their findings.

Afterwards, they will answer the audience’s questions and said they hope to open a dialogue about what everyone can do to protect the bay going forward.

Registration for the event is free and is possible until Oct. 26.

Will Everitt, Friends interim executive director, said “I wish we could bring the whole community out (into the Bay) with us, (but) this will be the closest they can get.”

Everitt is the acting executive while the organization seeks a permanent replacement for Cathy Ramsdell, who retired in September after 18 years in the position.

He said the search “has literally just begun” for Ramsdell’s successor. Friends of Casco Bay posted the initial announcement on Oct. 13 and will accept applications through Jan. 2, 2022. 

Everitt said the greatest challenge facing the next executive remains the same: how quickly Casco Bay is changing.

The Friends have three stations monitoring the health of the bay year-round, one of which has been in place for five years; the other two were placed in the spring.

Frignoca, lead advocate for the bay, said she and Doan have been observing the changes that occurred between April and October and will be sharing that data with the community on Oct. 27.

For example, she noted, the salinity of the bay this summer remained high even with lots of rain – something she hasn’t seen in recent years. Although she’s not sure if there’s any connection, Frignoca said she enjoyed clams and oysters that tasted great and even saltier than usual over the summer.

In addition to the monitoring, community involvement continues to play a big role in the efforts to keep the bay clean. Frignoca said the Friends count on volunteer citizens called water reporters, who document threats to the bay that they come across.

These threats include algae blooms, pollution, and climate change, she said, and continuously remind the Friends that people must listen to what the Bay is telling them.