Monday, August 17, 2020

Episode 538 (8-17-20): “Smart” Chesapeake Bay Buoys Describe Geography, History, and Current Conditions

Click to listen to episode (4:40)

Sections below are the following:

Transcript of Audio
Audio Notes and Acknowledgments
Extra Information
Related Water Radio Episodes
For Virginia Teachers (Relevant SOLs, etc.)

Unless otherwise noted, all Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 8-14-20.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of August 17, 2020. This episode is a revised repeat of an episode from April 2013.

MUSIC – ~ 19 sec

That’s part of “A Song for the Sea,” by the Richmond, Va.-based band Carbon Leaf.  The music opens an episode about Virginia’s famous connection to the sea—the Chesapeake Bay—and a wireless, floating system for getting current data and historical information about the Bay.  Have a listen for about 55 seconds to a recording from that system.

VOICE - ~56 sec – “Welcome to NOAA’s First Landing buoy, part of the Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System. … This buoy lies on a shoal in the Chesapeake’s mouth, approximately halfway between the junction of the Thimble Shoals and Baltimore channels, and east of the middle section of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel.  The first landing buoy sits at the crossroads of the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic. Weather and water conditions at this intersection reflect the dynamic daily interplay of Earth’s third-largest estuary and her second-largest ocean. … In this location, the First Landing Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System buoy anchors the lower end of the buoy system.  It provides fascinating observations on both water quality and weather conditions, assisting many users, from pilots handling large ships, to anglers in small boats, and even tourists driving across the Bridge-Tunnel.”

You’ve been listening to excerpts of a recording from the Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System, or CBIBS, about geography at the First Landing buoy near Cape Henry, Virginia.  Sometimes called “smart buoys,” these buoys provide current weather and water conditions at ten Bay locations, from the Susquehanna River’s mouth near Havre de Grace, Maryland, to Cape Henry.  Begun in 2007 and operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, CBIBS buoys collect meteorological, oceanographic, and water-quality data and relay that information through wireless technology to users of the system’s Web site or related mobile apps.  Along with the data measured at the buoys, CBIBS offers geographic, historical, and seasonal information for each buoy location, both in text and in audio recordings like the one you just heard.  This information helps interpret the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, a water trail marking Smith’s explorations of the Bay and area rivers from 1607 to 1609.

Whether you’re venturing out on the waters of the Chesapeake, or you have a land-based interest in Bay data, geography, or history, you can get information from CBIBS online at or via mobile apps for the system.

Thanks to Carbon Leaf for permission to use this week’s music, and we close with about 20 more seconds of “A Song for the Sea.”

MUSIC – ~ 21 sec - “Sail, sail, sailor beware,” then instrumental


Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  For more Virginia water sounds, music, or information, visit us online at, or call the Water Center at (540) 231-5624.  Thanks to Stewart Scales for his banjo version of Cripple Creek to open and close this show.   In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


This Virginia Water Radio episode replaces Episode 159, 4-29-13.

“A Song for the Sea,” from the 2013 album, “Ghost Dragon Attacks Castle,” is copyright by Carbon Leaf and Constant Ivy Music; used with permission of Constant Ivy Music.  More information about Carbon Leaf is available online at; at; and in Carbon Leaf still going strong after 26 years, by Mike Holtzclaw, [Newport News] Daily Press, 3/14/19.

The voice excerpts were taken from the online audio file, “Geography,” for the First Landing buoy in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System (CBIBS), online at

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (1 min./11 sec.) of the “Cripple Creek” arrangement/performance by Stewart Scales that opens and closes this episode.  More information about Mr. Scales and the group New Standard, with which Mr. Scales plays, is available online at


Image of a Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System (CBIBS) buoy and its components. Image from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration CBIBS Web site, “About the Buoy Technology,” online at

Map showing the 10 Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System (CBIBS) buoy locations, as of August 2020. Image from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration CBIBS Web site, “About the System,” online at Abbreviations for locations, from north to south, are as follows:
S = Susquehanna River, near Havre de Grace, Md.;
SN = Patapsco River, near Baltimore, Md.;
AN = Annapolis, Md., at the mouth of the Severn River;
UP = upper Potomac River, near Washington, D.C.;
GR = Gooses Reef, in the Bay channel off the mouth of the Little Choptank River in Maryland;
PL = Potomac River, at the river’s mouth near Point Lookout, Md.;
SR = Stingray Point, at the mouth of the Rappahannock River near Deltaville, Va. (Middlesex County);
YS = York Spit, in the York River near Perrin, Va. (Gloucester County);
J = James River, near Jamestown Island (James City County, Va.); and
FL = First Landing, near Cape Henry, Va. (City of Virginia Beach).


The following information is quoted the CBIBS Web site, “About” page, online at, as of 8-17-20.

“You set out in your kayak from a canoe launch somewhere along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay—the same geography traveled by Captain John Smith some 400 years ago.  As the first English settler to fully explore the Chesapeake Bay, Smith traveled more than 2,000 miles during the summer of 1608 in an open ‘shallop’ boat with no modern conveniences.

“But your trip is quite different. While you are also in an open boat, you are equipped with a cell phone and waterproof maps of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail—the first water trail in the National Park Service's National Trail System—giving you many advantages that the early explorers didn't have.

“In particular, you have access to NOAA's Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System (CBIBS), a network of observation buoys that mark points along the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.  These on-the-water platforms merge the modern technologies of cellular communications and internet-based information sharing.  You can pull out your cell phone and check out real-time weather and environmental information like wind speed, temperature, and wave height at any of the buoys.  Unlike John Smith, you know what's ahead of you, and can decide on an alternative plan to strike out for a landfall closer to home—protected from the elements and sheltered from the growing waves on the Bay.

“Not only do these ‘smart buoys’ give you real-time wind and weather information, they can to tell you something about John Smith's adventures during his 1608 voyage.”


Used for Audio

Chesapeake Conservancy, “About the [Captain John Smith Chesapeake] Trail,” online at; and “History of the Trail,” online at

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA), “Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System (CBIBS),” online at

National Park Service, “Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail,” online at

For More Information about the Chesapeake Bay

Chesapeake Bay Program, online at

Alice Jane Lippson and Robert L. Lippson, Life in the Chesapeake Bay, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Md., 2006.

Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS), “Bay Info,” online at


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (  See particularly the “Rivers, Streams, and Other Surface Water” subject category.

Following are links to some other episodes on the Chesapeake Bay.

Bay Barometer and other reports – Episode 305, 2-29-16.
Bay environmental conditions as of 2019-20 – Episode 537, 8-10-20.
Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), Phase II Watershed Implementation Plan – Episode 115, 6-18-12.
Bay TMDL, Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan – Episode 475, 6-3-19.
Chesapeake Bay Commission – Episode 496, 10-28-19.
Estuaries introduction – Episode 326, 7-25-16.
Oysters and nitrogen (Part 1) – Episode 279, 8-24-15 .
Oysters and nitrogen (Part 2) – Episode 280, 9-7-15.
Submerged aquatic vegetation (“Bay grasses”) – Episode 325, 7-18-16


Following are some Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) that may be supported by this episode’s audio/transcript, sources, or other information included in this post.

2013 Music SOLs

SOLs at various grade levels that call for “examining the relationship of music to the other fine arts and other fields of knowledge.”

2010 Science SOLs

Grades K-6 Scientific Investigation, Reasoning, and Logic Theme
1.1, 2.1, 3.1, 4.1, 5.1, and 6.1 – Gathering and analyzing data.

Grades K-6 Earth Resources Theme
4.9 – Virginia natural resources, including watersheds, water resources, and organisms.
6.9 – public policy decisions related to the environment (including resource management and conservation, land use decisions, hazard mitigation, and cost/benefit assessments).

Grades K-6 Interrelationships in Earth/Space Systems Theme
4.6 – weather conditions, phenomena, and measurements.
5.6 – characteristics of the ocean environment (ecological, geological, and physical).

Grades K-6 Living Systems Theme
6.7 – natural processes and human interactions that affect watershed systems; Virginia watersheds, water bodies, and wetlands; health and safety issues; and water monitoring.

Grades K-6 Matter Theme
6.5 – properties and characteristics of water and its roles in the human and natural environment.

Life Science Course
LS.11 – relationships between ecosystem dynamics and human activity.

Earth Science Course
ES.8 – influences by geologic processes and the activities of humans on freshwater resources, including identification of groundwater and major watershed systems in Virginia, with reference to the hydrologic cycle.
ES.10 – ocean processes, interactions, and policies affecting coastal zones, including Chesapeake Bay.
ES.12 – weather and climate.

Biology Course
BIO.8 – dynamic equilibria and interactions within populations, communities, and ecosystems; including nutrient cycling, succession, effects of natural events and human activities, and analysis of the flora, fauna, and microorganisms of Virginia ecosystems.

Chemistry Course
CH.1 – current applications to reinforce science concepts.

Physics Course
PH.1 – current applications to reinforce science concepts.
PH.2 – analyzing and interpreting data.

2015 Social Studies SOLs 

Grades K-3 History Theme

1.2 – Virginia history and life in present-day Virginia.
1.3 – stories of influential people in Virginia history.

Grades K-3 Geography Theme
1.6 – Virginia climate, seasons, and landforms.
2.6 – environment and culture of three Indian peoples: Powhatans, Lakotas, Pueblos.

Virginia Studies Course
VS.1 – impact of geographic features on people, places, and events in Virginia history.
VS.2 – physical geography and native peoples of Virginia past and present.
VS.3 – first permanent English settlement in America.
VS.10 – knowledge of government, geography, and economics in present-day Virginia.

United States History to 1865 Course
USI.2 – major land and water features of North America, including their importance in history.
USI.3 – early cultures in North America.
USI.4 – European exploration in North America and western Africa.

Civics and Economics Course
CE.6 – government at the national level.

World Geography Course
WG.2 – how selected physical and ecological processes shape the Earth’s surface, including climate, weather, and how humans influence their environment and are influenced by it.
WG.3 – how regional landscapes reflect the physical environment and the cultural characteristics of their inhabitants.

Virginia and United States History Course
VUS.2 – early European exploration and colonization and interactions among Europeans, Africans, and American Indians.
VUS.4 – Major pre-Revolution events.

Government Course
GOVT.1 – skills for historical thinking, geographical analysis, economic decision-making, and responsible citizenship.
GOVT.7 – national government organization and powers.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at

Following are links to Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels.

Episode 250, 1-26-15
– on boiling, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 255, 3-2-15 – on density, for 5th and 6th grade.
Episode 282, 9-21-15 – on living vs. non-living, for kindergarten.
Episode 309, 3-28-16 – on temperature regulation in animals, for kindergarten through 12th grade.
Episode 333, 9-12-16 – on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade.
Episode 403, 1-15-18 – on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 404, 1-22-18 – on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th through 8th grade.
Episode 406, 2-5-18 – on ice on rivers, for middle school.
Episode 407, 2-12-18 – on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.
Episode 483, 7-29-19 – on buoyancy and drag, for middle school and high school.
Episode 524, 5-11-20 – on sounds by water-related animals, for elementary school through high school.
Episode 531, 6-29-20 – on various ways that animals get water, for 3rd and 4th grade.