Because of the roles that shallow areas play in supporting the health of Chesapeake Bay, including serving as productive regions full of grass beds and nursery grounds for juvenile fish, managers with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are understandably interested in keeping tabs on how their conditions change over time.
It’s possible to assess some of those by going out at a set interval (daily, weekly, monthly) and gathering water samples to analyze. But such a scheduled approach wouldn’t give managers the around-the-clock data that they really need to get a complete picture of what’s going on in the shallows over time. This is especially true in light of best management practices implemented in Chesapeake Bay looking to improve its water quality.
To gauge how the best management practices are affecting the bay’s health over time, researchers with the Maryland DNR worked with NexSens Technology to source necessary monitoring gear, including data loggers equipped with cellular telemetry and water quality sondes. These help managers to characterize shallow water habitats but also to better understand ecosystem processes and the short-term impacts of extreme events.
More than eyes on the bay
At seven sites around Chesapeake Bay, officials with the DNR have deployed NexSens 3100-MAST Wireless Telemetry Systems. Each data logger is powered by solar panels and equipped with cellular telemetry for broadcasting sensor readings to researchers as they come in.
A YSI 6600 Multi-Parameter water quality sonde connected to each system is mounted in a deployment pipe submerged in Chesapeake Bay, logging data every 15 minutes. Parameters monitored include temperature, salinity, pH, dissolved oxygen (DO), turbidity and chlorophyll concentrations. But the most important to managers are measurements of DO, chlorophyll and turbidity — these are used to assess bay water quality criteria set by the Chesapeake Bay Program, a federal and local partnership working to restore the bay.
All data collected by the systems are posted online to the website Eyes On The Bay, an outreach effort overseen by the Maryland DNR.
The NexSens X2 Environmental Data Logger offers the latest in real-time monitoring technology with wireless communication, large plug-and-play sensor library, and ultra-low power consumption.
The MAST is a 2″ NPT aluminum pipe assembly designed for mounting an X2 data logger and SP-Series solar power pack for quick deployment.
The YSI EXO represents the next generation of water quality instruments from YSI. The EXO2 sonde includes six sensor ports and a central anti-fouling wiper option.