On Thursday, Aug. 22, Boothbay Region Land Trust took a new step in its efforts to provide sustained monitoring of coastal waters in the Boothbay region by participating in the first-ever Shell Day.
Shell Day is a single-day coastal monitoring blitz organized by the Northeast Coastal Acidification Network and spanning shores from Long Island Sound to Downeast Maine. The initiative, whose name evokes the particular threat that shellfish face from increasing ocean acidity, aims to generate a snapshot of coastal conditions along the Northeast.
Boothbay Region Land Trust Coastal Water Monitoring Program Coordinator and volunteer Ed Green helped to collect the two samples from off of Newagen and the Damariscotta River that were part of this multistate sampling effort. “This is the first coordinated citizen-science effort to measure our coastal waters for the impact of ocean acidification,” Green said. “We at the (Boothbay Region Land Trust) are proud and excited to be a contributor to this inaugural effort!”
The Northeast region is especially vulnerable to ocean acidification, which makes this data all the more significant. At each of the participating sites, samples were collected at low, mid, and high tides. These samples were then sent to designated labs for analysis to determine total alkalinity — the water’s ability to resist change in pH. One of the questions scientists hope to answer is whether salinity and alkalinity correlate enough to allow salinity to be used as a proxy for alkalinity. Since measuring salinity is affordable and widely available, a correlation could allow scientists to assess the vulnerability of certain coastal waters to acidification more easily. A correlation would also enable scientists to harness the growing datasets collected by citizen science programs like Boothbay Region Land Trust’s, which tests for salinity, in monitoring coastal ocean acidification.
From May through October, every other Wednesday, a crew of dedicated volunteers drops by the Boothbay Region Land Trust office at Oak Point Farm to collect, and later drop off, kits for coastal water monitoring. The program, which began in 2015, has grown to include 11 sites throughout the Boothbay region. Data collected includes pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen, salinity, and turbidity, and provides a valuable baseline that aids scientists and the community in assessing the health of area waters and understanding changes to coastal water over time.
In Boothbay, there is a growing awareness that the shores are vulnerable. Many people wonder what they can do to help. Programs like Shell Day and Boothbay Region Land Trust’s Coastal Water Monitoring Program provide a means for concerned citizens to take a role in observing and collecting data.
To learn more about Boothbay Region Land Trust’s Coastal Water Monitoring Program, go to bbrlt.org.