Penobscot Bay

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Penobscot Bay
Penobscot Bay - map 01.gif
Penobscot Bay (Maine)
Location Maine, United States
Coordinates 44°11′14″N 68°55′16″W / 44.18722°N 68.92111°W / 44.18722; -68.92111Coordinates: 44°11′14″N 68°55′16″W / 44.18722°N 68.92111°W / 44.18722; -68.92111
River sources Penobscot River
Ocean/sea sources Atlantic Ocean
Max. depth 145 meters
Salinity approx. 31psu
Settlements Rockland, Maine
Camden, Maine

Penobscot Bay originates from the mouth of Maine's Penobscot River. 11,000 years ago, at the beginning of the Holocene era, the Gulf of Maine's sea level fell as low as 180 feet (55 m) below its present height. Penobscot Bay was then a continuation of Penobscot River that meandered through a broad lowland extending past present day Matinicus Island.[1][2] Penobscot Bay is between Muscongus Bay and Blue Hill Bay.

Penobscot Bay and its chief tributary, Penobscot River are named for the Penobscot Indian Nation, which has continuously inhabited the area for more than ten thousand years, fishing, hunting and shellfish gathering in and around the bay and river. A part of the Wabanaki Confederacy, the Penobscot Indian Nation's present reservation includes Indian Island, north of Orono, Maine, and all the islands of Penobscot River above it. Ancient remains of their campsites dating back millennia have been found on the bay's shores and islands. For more on Wabanaki culture and history on the Maine coast, see "Asticou's Island Domain: Wabanaki Peoples at Mount Desert Island 1500-2000,"(National Park Service, 2007)

There are many islands in this bay, and on them, some of the country's most well-known summer colonies. The bay served as portal for the one time "lumber capital of the world," namely; the city of Bangor.

Penobscot Bay has many working waterfronts including Belfast, Maine, which is home to custom boat builder Front Street Shipyard. Other working waterfronts include Rockland, Maine and Rockport, Maine.

Penobscot Bay Water Pollution Management[edit]

Penobscot Bay has been the receiving waters for sewage waste and industrial waste discharges from bay and river towns since the 19th century. Discharge treatment was primarily dilution until the mid 20th century when the federal government began requiring communities and businesses of all states to meet water pollution control standards.

Beginning with the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1948, where states were requested to evolve and enforce their own standards, federal water pollution regulation evolved in 1970 to require that any project requiring a federal permit must be certified to meet state standards, then expanded in 1972 to require projects to meet a host of federal standards. The law is now known as the Clean Water Act of 1972

On June 28, 1966, the State of Maine's Commissioner of Sea and Shore Fisheries, Ronald W. Green, ordered closure of the shellfish beds in the waters of Searsport and Stockton Springs, in upper Penobscot Bay, "due to the polluted condition of the water."

The US Department of the Interior's Water Pollution Control Administration and the US Public Health Service then conducted a joint investigation of the lower Penobscot River and upper Penobscot Bay "to determine the sources of this pollution, the direction of travel of this pollution and the degree of economic injury involved."

In February 1967, the Water Pollution Control Administration (WPCA) published its findings as "Report on Pollution - Navigable Waters of the Penobscot River and Upper Penobscot Bay". The investigation found that the sewage from eleven towns,and effluents of thirteen businesses and one university facility were the chief sources of the pollution.

According to the report,"substantial economic injury results from the inability to market shellfish or shellfish products in interstate commerce because of pollution caused by sewage and industrial wastes discharged to the Penobscot River and upper Penobscot Bay area and action of state authorities." The WPCA noted that "accordingly the pollution of these navigable waters is subject to abatement under procedures described in Section 10 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, as amended"

The WPCA report recommended specific water quality requirements for these pollution dischargers, and concluded that if the identified pollution sources improved their waste treatment practices, the waters of the upper Penobscot Bay communities of Northport, Searsport, Stockton Springs, Penobscot, Castine, Islesboro and Belfast, Maine would again be available for commercial and recreational fishing, swimming, pleasure boating, industrial processing and cooling water, wildlife and navigation.

Islands in Penobscot Bay[edit]

Towns along the western side[edit]

Penobscot Bay near Belfast

Towns on the eastern side[edit]

Penobscot Bay panorama[edit]

A 180° panorama of the Penobscot Bay from near the Belfast/Searsport town line looking SE. Belfast Bay is to the right, Northport on the peninsula, Islesboro on the center horizon, Castine to the left of that, and toward Stockton Springs and the entrance to the Penobscot River are beyond the trees on the far left.


  1. ^ Barnhardt, Walter. A., Gehrels, W. Roland, Belknap, Daniel F., and Kelley, Joseph T., 1995, Late Quaternary relative sea-level change in the western Gulf of Maine: Evidence for a migrating glacial forebulge: Geology, v. 23, no. 4, p. 317-320.
  2. ^ Maine Department of Conservation. "Penobscot Bay 10,000 Years Ago.

External links[edit]