Monitoring Bay conditions is an important part of the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office’s work to support the health of the Chesapeake Bay. We do this through several efforts:
Our system of data buoys—the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System—tracks meteorological, oceanographic, and water-quality data up and down the Bay. This data is available in near real time via this website and mobile apps. This information is used by a wide range of people: scientists tracking the restoration of the Bay; resource managers considering how to ensure sustainable harvest of living resources; sailors, boaters, anglers, and other maritime interests planning a safe day on the water; educators and students seeking information about the ecosystem; and more.
Acoustic telemetry arrays include receivers that capture data when a fish that has been tagged by researchers swims near it. Data is downloaded several times each year from the arrays and shared with researchers via the Mid-Atlantic Acoustic Telemetry Observation System. Researchers learn about fish movements and migration, and resource managers can use this information to develop refined regulations. In addition to backbone arrays near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge (managed by the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office in partnership with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources) and at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay (managed by the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office in partnership with the Virginia Marine Resources Commission), the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science maintains an array in the mid-Bay area. We also station receivers on CBIBS buoys, and we have several receivers deployed in the Choptank River near oyster restoration projects.
We measure dissolved oxygen (DO) levels in the Bay to more fully understand how DO levels vary from the surface to the bottom. We currently operate small buoys at two locations in the middle part of the Bay. One buoy is located in 20 feet of water; the other in 66 feet. These buoys continually track DO every 6.5 feet through the water column. Monitoring and analyzing changes in DO, along with information on how different fish use the Bay, helps scientists to evaluate the effects low DO (hypoxia) has on important species like striped bass. It also helps scientists model how DO levels change over time and space. This lets them track progress toward improving the health of the Bay for all species.