Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Viriginia

Quick Facts

Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Viriginia

Virginia

(804) 684-7135

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

As the nation's largest estuary, the Chesapeake Bay contains a diverse collection of habitats including oyster reefs, seagrass beds, tidal wetlands, sandy shoals and mudflats. In order to address the diversity of habitats in the southern Chesapeake Bay, the Chesapeake Bay Virginia Reserve established a multi-site system along the salinity gradient of the York River estuary. Reserve components include Sweet Hall Marsh, Taskinas Creek, Catlett Island, and Goodwin Islands, from freshwater to salt respectively.

Salinity is an important determinate of what species can live in an area. Located on the freshwater Pamunkey River, northern wild rice grows easily in the Sweet Hall Marsh component of the reserve. However, salinity is too high for it to grow at the Catlett Island component. Conversely, plants like saltwort thrive at the salty Goodwin Island component that would die if transplanted to Sweet Hall Marsh.

For additional information, visit http://www.vims.edu/cbnerr/index.php.

Map of Chesapeake Bay (VA) Nat'l Estuarine Research Reserve

Latitude, Longitude: 37.274599, -76.514282

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Activities

  • Boating

    Guided canoe trips of the reserve are available.

    Goodwin Islands are only accessible by shallow draft boats and there are no docking facilities or designated trails on Goodwin Islands. The public may access the island from dawn to dusk. Beach areas can be used for picnicking, beachcombing and other non-destructive activities if visitors do not willingly or negligently disturb the environment or scientific experiments/equipment.

    The Goodwin Islands are located on the southern side of the mouth of the York River and are accessible only by boat. The nearest mainland is 0.2 km across the Sand Box Thoroughfare. Permission is required for specific activities on the island. Please call the Research Reserve office for further information.

  • Bird Watching

    Several bird species may be seen.

  • Historic Sites

    The primary goal of general education and public outreach program of the Chesapeake Bay Reserve in Virginia is to increase awareness, understanding, appreciation and wise use of the Chesapeake Bay estuary through various informal and formal education programs for students general public.

    Public education programs provided by the Reserve include programs at York River State Park, Tour of the Reserves canoe trips, Estuaries Day, Dragon Run Day, and Virginia Institute of Marine Science's Marine Science Day.

  • Hunting

    Waterfowl hunting from floating blinds is allowed on Goodwin Islands, however, a Reserve issued permit is required. Contact the reserve for additional information.

    The Goodwin Islands are located on the southern side of the mouth of the York River and are accessible only by boat. The nearest mainland is 0.2 km across the Sand Box Thoroughfare. Permission is required for specific activities on the island. Please call the Research Reserve office for further information.

  • Wildlife Watching

    The primary goal of general education and public outreach program of the Chesapeake Bay Reserve in Virginia is to increase awareness, understanding, appreciation and wise use of the Chesapeake Bay estuary through various informal and formal education programs for students general public.

    Public education programs provided by the Reserve include programs at York River State Park, Tour of the Reserves canoe trips, Estuaries Day, Dragon Run Day, and Virginia Institute of Marine Science's Marine Science Day.

    Goodwin Islands are only accessible by shallow draft boats and there are no docking facilities or designated trails on Goodwin Islands. The public may access the island from dawn to dusk. Beach areas can be used for picnicking, beachcombing and other non-destructive activities if visitors do not willingly or negligently disturb the environment or scientific experiments/equipment. Waterfowl hunting from floating blinds is allowed, however, a Reserve issued permit is required. Contact the reserve for additional information.

Seasonality/Weather

Summers in the Southeastern United States are humid during the day. The best times to visit are fall and spring.

Directions

Driving

The reserve is located within the York River Basin, approximately one hour north of Norfolk.

The Virginia Institute of Marine Science is located on the York River in Gloucester Point, VA, directly across the Coleman Bridge from historic Yorktown. The VIMS Watermen's Hall Visitor Center is open to the public on weekdays from 9 am - 4:30 pm.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(804) 684-7135

Links