Maine scientists studying Casco Bay ecosystem

Scientists at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute in Portland are trying to better understand how the ecosystem of Casco Bay is changing. This summer, they launched a comprehensive survey of marine life in the bay that will unfold over the next 10 years. MPBN’s Jennifer Rooks caught up with some of the researchers.

At the helm of this 16-foot Carolina skiff: research technician Zach Whitener, who, together with two college interns, is zooming around Casco Bay studying fish. The team comes into a small beach on Mackworth Island off Falmouth, sets out 50-yard-long seine net, pulls it to shore and starts to count and measure alewives, silversides and other species commonly found in these waters.

This team is taking part in a major new study of Casco Bay – a comprehensive survey looking at everything from plankton to groundfish. The project is called the Casco Bay Aquatic System Survey – or CBASS, for short.

“The idea is to follow the conditions in Casco Bay for 10 years, to get an idea of how the ecosystem might be responding to changes in climate, changes in ocean conditions and changes in land use practices,” says project manager Graham Sherwood.

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