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75 years of Chesapeake Bay data made public, for better stewardship

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CHESAPEAKE BEACH, MD - AUGUST 03: Donnie Eastridge aboard the commercial crabbing boat "Foxy Roxy" pulls in a crab pot full of Blue Crabs and a few Sea Nettles (jellyfish) on the Chesapeake Bay August 3, 2005 in Chesapeake Beach, Maryland. The Maryland Blue Crab has been in decline in recent years but crabber Bobby Abner of Abner's Crab House says this year the crabbing has been better than recent years. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – Governor Terry McAuliffe announced Tuesday that decades of Chesapeake Bay-related data will be made accessible to the public so scientists, entrepreneurs, and innovators “can build on the information and develop the next generation of tools to help us maintain and preserve this valuable ecosystem.”

The “Bay Data” resources provide information and new open data sets across a wide variety of Chesapeake Bay topics, including indices of fish and crab abundance, inventories of tidal-marsh condition and health, water-quality trends, and knowledge of fish diversity and dietary preference.

The database will be powered by William and Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) and will be added to the Commonwealth’s Open Data Portal (

“The Chesapeake Bay is one of Virginia’s greatest natural assets and its stewardship must be a communal effort across the entire watershed,” McAuliffe said, speaking at the announcement. “

Officials pointed out that stewardship of the Bay rquires science and ability to access and apply data.

“This information will help managers and citizens alike pursue strategies for success in our restoration efforts,” said Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward.

“Building the new Virginia economy is not just about creating new technologies, it is also about using tools, such as data analytics and visualization, to enhance critical decision-making about precious assets like the Bay and its tributaries,” said Secretary of Technology Karen Jackson.

Data on the Bay has been collected and analyzed for more than 75 years.

“We are excited about all the new opportunities for sharing these datasets with the public so that everyone can benefit from the treasure trove of knowledge they contain,” said Dr. Mark Luckenbach, Associate Dean of Research and Advisory Services at VIMS.

Additional postings to Bay Data will be finalized and added in the coming months.

For more information on data analytics, please visit To learn more about VIMS, visit