Tilghman Island, Md. ─ Harris Creek is now home to a state-of-the-art water quality monitoring device, the Vertical Profiler, deployed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources on June 26. Located in the Choptank River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Harris Creek is the site of a large scale oyster restoration project being conducted by DNR, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and the US Army Corps of Engineers.
“The Profiler will allow us to understand how water quality affects the settlement of oyster larvae as well as survivorship and growth of juvenile oysters,” said Eric Weissberger, of DNR’s Shellfish Program. “This information will then help us refine when and where to plant oysters.”
The profiler is a floating pontoon that houses a device which is raised and lowered throughout the water column by an automated winch system to monitor water quality hourly at programmable depths. Water quality in the Chesapeake Bay typically varies in the vertical dimension, with dissolved oxygen levels lower and salinity levels higher at the bottom, and algal concentrations higher near the surface.
“The advantage of using the Profiler to monitor oyster reefs is that we can see the full range of conditions that exist for reefs from surface to bottom,” said Mark Trice, Program Chief of DNR’s Water Quality Informatics Program.
The Vertical Profiler joins the DNR network of more than 40 continuous water quality monitoring stations and many other monitoring assets in Maryland’s tidal Chesapeake and Coastal Bays, which can all be accessed through the Eyes on the Bay website, eyesonthebay.net.