Thank goodness for Casco Bay. And as long as you're thanking goodness, you should also thank Friends of Casco Bay. Since 1989, this citizen-and-volunteer-driven organization has kept a watchful eye on the health and status of the area's ocean waters.
One of the key reasons why we love Portland so much is, well, it's a port. Take away the water, take away Casco Bay, and Portland would just be INSERT NAME OF GENERIC INLAND CITY HERE. But we have the water! The rocks and the waves and the beaches and the piers and the Casco Bay Line ferries and the lobster boats and all of it. We are indeed fortunate.
With great fortune comes great responsibility. That's where Friends of Casco Bay comes in. Under the watchful eye of Baykeeper Joe Payne and a small, committed staff, they, and a legion of volunteers, act as stewards of the bay. Because (in case you didn't know this already), what starts out on land or in the sky is likely to end up in the water. Stuff from your boats. Stuff from your lawn. Stuff from your car. Stuff from your building. And more often than not, "stuff" is harmful to water health. The water we swim in, play in, fish from, and depend on.
Friends of Casco Bay regularly and rigorously monitors water temperature, salinity, clarity, and for a host of chemical compounds. They conduct clean-ups along the coastline. They chart changes in Casco Bay's status over time. They educate residents, students, and government officials. As a result, the waters of Casco Bay are in much better shape than, say, the waters of Chesapeake Bay or Boston Harbor. Perhaps you depend on Casco Bay for your livelihood. Or perhaps you glimpse it now and then, out of the corner of your eye. Either way, it's the dynamic, essential resource that washes upon all of us. If you're thinking, 'Where could I volunteer, where would make a difference?,' then maybe you should think about Friends of Casco Bay.
And the next time you're at Harbor Fish Market, or sharing lobster with pals, or walking along Willard Beach, give a small "thank-you" to the geologic forces that came together to create this nifty little peninsula sticking out into this bountiful bay.