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Water Quality Monitoring

Water quality monitoring is a huge part of the MCBP’s Comprehensive Conservation & Management Plan (CCMP). It not only engages our community through our water quality volunteer program, but also provides data to evaluate the health of the waters of the Coastal Bays. In addition, the data we collect is used in conjunction with data collected by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the National Park Service to assess the effectiveness of the best management practices that are implemented within the watershed. Assessing water quality throughout the Maryland Coastal Bays’ watershed can provide pathways to finding solutions to numerous problems the bays face, such as harmful algal blooms (HABs), eutrophication zones, nutrient and pollution run-off, decreasing seagrass distribution, and fish kills. Collecting monthly samples allows MCBP to develop status and trends of our nearshore areas that provides a long-term look at the results of land use decisions. Our dedicated volunteers play a major part in our water quality sampling and allow MCBP to monitor 22 different locations throughout the Coastal Bays’ watershed; see below for a list of stations that have been sampled in the past. If you would like to get involved or would like more information about our water quality program, please contact Carly Toulan at, or Dr. Roman Jesien at

Maryland Coastal Bays Volunteer Water Monitoring Report 2005-2023

MCBP WQ Training Video for YSI Pro2030

Bay / TributarySite#Station Name
St. Martin37OP Canal
BBBishopville Bridge
B1Bishopville Pond
B5Route 54 Buntings
LH1Lizard Hill Input
LH2Lizard Hill Output
Isle of Wight9Ocean Pines Canal
30Turville Creek
Sinepuxent10South Point Landing
36South Point
31South Snug Harbor
Newport Bay4Hudson Branch
12Mason Landing
15Newport Golf Course
23Trappe Creek
28Bassett Creek
33Ayres Creek
35Bottle Branch (Harrison Road)
18Figgs Landing
BM1Big Mill Pond - above dam
BM2Big Mill Pond - below dam
SPSteep Pond Road - upstream of BM

Wetlands Assessments

Wetlands are an important habitat found throughout the Maryland Coastal Bays’ watershed. Hundreds of species of plants, insects, and animals inhabit wetlands for either a portion or the entirety of their lives. Wetlands, in general, help filter out sediments and nutrients from runoff, and act as a buffer protecting inland areas from storm surges, flooding, and erosion. Due to their importance, wetlands are protected by the State of Maryland. Even though they are protected by the state, little data has been collected on the status of the tidal wetlands in the Coastal Bays’ watershed. To better assess our tidal wetlands, MCBP staff started its own wetland assessment program in the summer of 2019. Our wetland assessment protocol is based on the Mid-Atlantic Tidal Rapid Assessment Method​ (MidTRAM) that was developed by DNREC, MDNR, and VIMS​. The overall goal of these assessments is to gain a fuller  understanding of  tidal wetland stressors, and how they affect the health of these wetlands to better focus restoration efforts.  If you would like to find out more information about our wetland assessment program, please contact Carly Toulan at

Stream and Coastal Assessment

MCBP conducts a variety of biological monitoring efforts throughout the watershed to better understand the health of the Coastal Bays. Knowing what species occur in our streams and coastal waters is important to plan for and evaluate restoration projects. For example, certain fish species migrate from the ocean to freshwater spawning areas. Barriers—such as dams—keep these fishes from completing their life cycle. Monitoring fish passage at projects such as the innovative Bishopville Stream Corridor Enhancement Project collects important data for other passage restoration projects. MCBP utilizes a variety of sampling methods to collect this information including trap, cast and seine nets, and electrofishers. We also employ the latest genetic techniques to look at fish distribution. To assess the distribution of migratory river herring, MCBP partnered with the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science to test for the presence of these fish by analyzing water samples for their DNA.  Laboratory analyses are able to detect minute quantities of the fish’s DNA in the water, allowing MCBP to efficiently determine the effectiveness of migration barriers, and thus, plan for their removal.

Pre- and post-construction monitoring of nekton (organisms that swim, such as fish, shrimp, and crabs) is used to evaluate the success of coastal restoration projects and their impacts on nearshore biodiversity. For example, at the Assateague Living Shoreline, MCBP monitoring was able to document the prompt return of organisms following construction. In addition to nekton, these surveys include submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) monitoring. To further our SAV monitoring efforts, MCBP has partnered with the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS). VIMS conducts annual aerial flight surveys for SAV coverage across the Coastal Bays. MCBP works to provide ground truth to verify the presence of SAV beds with on-the-ground surveys. The SAV data collected from VIMS and MCBP is incorporated into our Annual Report Card. If you would like more information about our stream and coastal monitoring efforts, please contact Dr. Roman Jesien at

Contribute Online

Become a member of the Coastal Bays Foundation and donate online securely through PayPal. Your financial contribution will go toward protecting our watershed, its habitat, and wildlife. The Maryland Coastal Bays Program Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit; all donations are tax deductible.