ESL Water Quality Monitoring

The VIMS Eastern Shore Laboratory has established continuously recording, fixed-sensor water quality monitoring stations to provide real-time and archived data on the seaside of the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Continuous monitoring stations have been established at Wachapreague (37°36'27.6912'' N 75°41'8.9124'' W), Willis Wharf (37°30'43.0806'' N 75°48'22.1934'' W), and Burton’s Bay (37°36'50.8896''N 75°38'13.434''W).

The Wachapreague station, installed in March 2016, was chosen to support research that occurs at and near VIMS ESL’s Seawater Laboratory. The Willis Wharf station, installed in October 2018, was selected to provide support for nearby commercial shellfish hatcheries. The Willis Wharf station was established with funding from Steve and Barbara Johnsen, and site utilities are provided by Cherrystone Aquafarms. The Burton’s Bay station was established to support seagrass and bay scallop restoration efforts in 2023 with grant funding provided by the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, and The Nature Conservancy.

The Wachapreague and Willis Wharf stations are land-based monitoring systems connected to a floating pump. For these systems, surface water is pumped into a chamber where the water sample is analyzed. The Burton’s Bay station is a remote monitoring station submerged at a fixed depth ~1.5 ft from the bottom. Data collected by the Burton’s Bay station is collected in situ. Due to the well-mixed nature of seaside waters, both types of stations will provide reasonable estimates of water column conditions.

 ESL’s live monitoring systems are maintained using YSI EXO2 Multiparameter Sondes, and readings are reported to a live telemetry and control system provided by Green Eyes, LLC.

 Data summaries and more information about ESL’s water quality mission can be found in the following reports: Ecological Monitoring Program at VIMS ESL Annual Reports 2018-Current.

Live water-quality data for these three stations can be accessed by clicking the links below:

For requests, questions, or suggestions about the water quality data available, please contact Darian Kelley (, 757-787-5836).

 WQ Study Area Map