About the Bay

Formed by the confluence of six rivers, including the Kennebec and Androscoggin, Merrymeeting Bay is the largest freshwater estuary system north of Chesapeake Bay; it drains an astounding 38% of Maine’s fresh water. Biologically, the Bay is classified freshwater tidal riverine and geologically, an inland delta.

Merrymeeting Bay is a resource of international significance: it is the largest staging ground for migratory waterfowl in the northeast, it is the only estuary providing spawning and nursery habitat for all diadromous fish species in the Gulf of Maine, and it is home to a number of rare and endangered plant, and animal species including Parker’s pipewort, stiff arrowhead, shortnosed sturgeon, Atlantic salmon and a recovering bald eagle population; the second largest in Maine.

The Bay also represented a divide between the Native American Susquehanna agrarian culture to the south and west and the somewhat earlier “red paint people”, hunters and gatherers to the east.

Watercolors by
Sarah Stapler