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Stories

Thoughts on the Changing Bay From Bailey Island Lobsterman Bob Perry

Bob Perry lives on Bailey Island, at the northeast tip of Casco Bay.

I met Bob on the working wharf by Cook’s Lobster House while wandering through town with my audio equipment and camera. Bob was loading his boat with lobster traps, getting ready to set another round of traps.

As often happens in rural Maine, I had stumbled upon a resident with a vast amount of local knowledge. Bob is a third generation islander, he has a son and grandchildren and all together the family spans five generations. His great grandfather moved here from Nova Scotia on a sailing vessel, and the family has been on the water ever since.

“I first went out on the water when I was about three… with my father, we’d go up and down the bay, clamming and stuff.”

Bob told me that for him, lobstering isn’t an adventure; it’s just a job. Casco Bay is where he goes to work every day and without it, his family’s livelihood would suffer.

Bob has seen a lot of changes on Bailey Island. The town is dotted with small Maine capes, the kind of picturesque homes you see in Robert McCloskey’s classic children’s books. But Bob points out some of the newer additions to the town: large mansions that rise above the pine and spruce trees. The changes make Bob worry. The new houses drain the community’s resources and raise the cost of living.

 “I’d like to go back to simpler days, 100 years ago.” The coastline is changing, and so is the Bay. According to Bob Perry, bigger houses mean bigger yachts. “These days everybody’s got a boat, every boat pollutes. Those people in their big yachts aren’t out making a living, they’re burning their living.”

Life on Bailey Island is changing but for today, Bob is worrying about other things. He has to set his traps. It’s already mid-June and he has only 100 out of 400 in the water. I ask Bob when he thinks he’ll be done setting traps. “'Bout September,” he replies, “Just in time to take ‘em up.”

Written and photographed by Galen Koch, 2014.