Shoreline Management

Shoreline Management is the act of dealing – in a planned way – with actual and potential coastal erosion and its relation to planned or existing development activities on the coast.

Through its Shoreline Management Plans, Shoreline Protection Plans, and applied research, the Shoreline Studies Program (SSP) provides information and recommendations to localities and landowners that increases awareness of the choices available for erosion control and shore stabilization. SSP researches the Geology, Wave Climate, Sea-Level Rise, and Shoreline Erosion Conditions affecting a site in order to make site-specific recommendations.

Living Shorelines

A  more natural approach to shore stabilization is termed Living Shorelines and uses marshes, beaches, and dunes effectively to protect the shoreline along Virginia's creeks, rivers, and bays. Numerous benefits result from this approach to shoreline management, including: creating critical habitat for marine plants and animals, improving water quality, and reducing sedimentation. In addition, most waterfront property owners enjoy a continuous connection to the water that allows for enhanced recreational opportunities.

Shoreline Evolution

The Chesapeake Bay’s estuarine shorelines are constantly evolving. Winds, waves, tides, and currents are constantly shaping and modifying coastlines by eroding, transporting, and depositing sediments. Determining the rates and patterns of shore change provides the basis to know how a particular coast has changed through time and how it might proceed in the future. The Shoreline Studies Program is working locality-by-locality to document how the shore zone has evolved since 1937.

Shoreline Change Online Viewer

Our online viewer shows shorelines and shoreline change rates for Virginia and the Virginia Chesapeake Bay. Historic 1937 aerial imagery is also available.

Shoreline Studies Program by the Numbers

  • 27

    Living Shorelines

    SSP designed and co-designed installations can be found all around Virginia's coast.

  • $ 5.2 million

    Grant Funding

    In the past 10 years, SSP has received funding for nearly 60 projects.

  • 20,000


    SSP reports have been downloaded in 120 different countries.

  • 3,600

    Shoreline Miles

    SSP's management plans encompass thousands of miles of shoreline.

Who We Are

The Shoreline Studies Program team has been researching and protecting Chesapeake Bay’s shoreline for decades, with nearly 80 years of combined experience. Through the development of best practices for shoreline management and living shoreline design, implementation, monitoring, and training, they have created a more resilient coastal zone for the Commonwealth.

Contact the Shoreline Studies Program

Shoreline Studies Program

Brown House Virginia Institute of Marine Science P.O. Box 1346 (for regular mail) Rt. 1208 Greate Road (for shipping) Gloucester Point, VA 23062

Map & Directions
Contact Us
  • Phone: 804-684-7000