NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office

Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System

Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail


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Andrew Larkin
757-627-3823, ext. 36

Ben Sherman


NOAA and Nauticus Deploy "Smart Buoy” In the Elizabeth River near Norfolk, Va. Buoy Monitors Key Aspects of Bay Health

September 25, 2008

The NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office will deploy a “smart buoy” Sept. 26 in the Elizabeth River near downtown Norfolk to observe the river's changing conditions. The buoy, developed in partnership with the Nauticus museum, will be the southernmost buoy in NOAA's Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System (CBIBS), a network that provides mariners, scientists and educators with real-time data about the Bay.

Buoys in the system also mark points along the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. The buoy deployment coincides with the 400th anniversary of Captain John Smith's exploration of the Elizabeth River in September 1608. 

“This is the first CBIBS buoy to be funded through a partnership with a museum,” said Peyton Robertson, director of the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office. “It will enhance our observations of the changing conditions of the Chesapeake Bay, provide real-time information for mariners, and mark a significant spot in Captain Smith's remarkable exploration of the New World.”

 Robertson and Nauticus Deputy Director Rolf Johnson will participate in a deployment ceremony at Nauticus on Friday at 9 a.m. to both launch the buoy and to unveil a new interpretive kiosk that will allow museum visitors to directly access the buoy's real-time data.

"This represents the first link in our long-term ‘digital seaport’ initiative, providing opportunities for the public to access and explore interconnected information on various parts of our harbor, including historic, environmental and scientific content," said Johnson.

CBIBS buoys collect weather, oceanographic and water-quality observations and transmits this data wirelessly in near-real time. These measurements, as well as historical and cultural information, can be accessed at and by phone at 877-BUOY-BAY (877-286-9229). CBIBS is the only operational buoy system in the Bay dedicated to maintaining the broad range of measurements necessary to track Bay restoration progress. Online educational resources are also available.

This is the sixth buoy in the CBIBS system. Buoys deployed earlier are located in Virginia (in the James River near Jamestown and at the mouth of the Rappahannock River) and in Maryland (at the mouths of the Potomac, Patapsco, and Susquehanna Rivers).

The crew of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Norfolk District Derrick Boat Elizabeth will partner with NOAA and transport and place the Elizabeth River buoy at its final location.

The Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail highlights the natural history of the Bay and provides new opportunities for recreation, education, and tourism in the Chesapeake Bay region, and encourages stewardship of this national treasure.

The NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office focuses NOAA’s capabilities in science, service, and stewardship to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay.

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources. Visit