Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Virginia

  • Mission
    Mission  Research, stewardship, and education are part of the NERRS mission  
  • CBNERRS Research Lab
    CBNERRS Research Lab  Catlett Burruss Research Laboratory on the VIMS campus  
  • Winter marsh
    Winter marsh  Snow and ice amplify the beauty of the marsh  Sandra Erdle
  • Research Reserve
    Research Reserve  Goodwin Islands - part of the CBNERR  
  • GYRO at Sunset
    GYRO at Sunset  The sun peeks through a cloud by the Goodwin York Research Observatory (GYRO)  Willy Reay
  • Rainbow
    Rainbow  over the marsh.  
  • Natural Beauty
    Natural Beauty  A magnolia in bloom at CBNERR Wilson House  Sandra Erdle
  • End of Day
    End of Day  Sunset on the water  
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Designated in 1991, Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Virginia (CBNERR-VA) is one of 29 protected areas that make up the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS). Established to promote informed management of the nation's estuaries and coastal habitats, national estuarine research reserves inspire solutions for healthy coasts and maintain strong local economies, effectively functioning as America’s bridge between freshwater and salt.

Located in the southern subregion of the Chesapeake Bay, the nation’s largest estuary, CBNERR-VA is a steward of 4 unique reserves that protect a diversity of estuarine habitat: Sweet Hall Marsh, Taskinas Creek, Catlett Islands, and the Goodwin Islands. This multi-component system is situated along the York River's salinity gradient, making CBNERR-VA the foremost authority on York River estuarine habitat and water quality.

CBNERR-VA is administered as a partnership between the Commonwealth of Virginia and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), while managed on a daily basis by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS). As such, its research informs local, state, and national policy. As a leader in regional estuarine coastal education, CBNERR-VA builds capacity among current and future decision makers, resource stewards, and voters.


The mission of CBNERR-VA is to exhibit leadership in coastal zone management through innovative estuarine and coastal watershed science and education programs that promote natural-resource stewardship and science-based solutions to complex socioecological challenges.

To fulfill its mission, CBNERR-VA advances scientific understanding of watershed and estuarine systems, conducts education and training programs, conserves coastal resources, and provides advisory service through two topical areas of focus that holistically address local, regional, and national issues. They include:

  • Coastal response and mitigation to environmental change, and
  • Water quality monitoring and assessment to address aquatic life and societal needs.

The reserve's mission complements the three-part mission of VIMS to conduct interdisciplinary research in coastal ocean and estuarine science, educate students and citizens, and provide advisory service to policy makers, industry, and the public.