Science and Research

While recent efforts have provided a great deal of marine habitat data along Maine’s coast, there are still notable gaps for over two-thirds of Maine’s coast with respect to basic information needed for well-informed and forward-looking ocean and coastal resource management. Critical ocean data gaps include bathymetry, habitat, water quality parameters, water column temperature profiles, and benthic species composition. This type of information is critical to the understanding of emerging issues and the development of science-based measures to address them.

As the foundation of the Maine Salt Marsh Monitoring Network, the Maine Coastal Program and our partners have established dozens of long-term monitoring stations. Salt marshes provide coastal communities with storm and flood protection, fish and wildlife habitat, recreational and commercial harvesting opportunities, and pollutant filtration. They also store carbon that would otherwise contribute to climate change, including accelerated sea level rise. Salt marshes are especially sensitive to changes in water levels because they occupy such a narrow elevation band in the space between high and low tide.

The Maine Coastal Mapping Initiative (MCMI) was created by the Maine Coastal Program (MCP) to acquire critical hydrographic data, which will be used by regulatory and planning agencies to maintain vibrant marine ecosystems, expand offshore economic opportunities, and prepare for environmental changes expected due to sea level rise and other environmental changes.

Maine Tidal Marsh Monitoring

Installing a deep steel rod for monitoring tidal marsh water levels, photo by Kristen Puryear

Photo by Kristen Puryear.

Maine Coastal Mapping Initiative

NOAA vessel using multibeam sonar to map the ocean floor

Graphic by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office of the Coast Survey.