Calling All Boaters! Paddlers, Fishermen, Crabbers!   

What is our scientist friend from the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) doing?

Taking pictures of Chessie the Sea Monster?

No, it’s even more exciting … SERC Researcher Elizabeth is taking pictures of turbidity in the water!


This summer, SRA was proud to help the folks at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) ground truth a new cell phone app that measures the turbidity (i.e. murkiness) of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

We had fun this summer hosting SERC researcher, Elizabeth, on our scientific research vessel, Sea Girl, as we conducted our Water Quality Monitoring tours of the Severn

Elizabeth (sporting those cool green shades and taking pics) is testing a phone app that connects cell phone pictures of:

  • the surface color of the Severn River,
  • a gray-scale standard,
  • water samples collected from our creeks, and
  • satellite pictures.

And then, through the magic of science, software and technology, SERC’s new phone app can generate a turbidity measurement.

Here are a few pics of Elizabeth in action: on the main stem of the Severn; near our Peach Orchard oyster reef, and inside our creeks – Burley, Whitehall and Meredith Creeks.

She is comparing these cellphone pictures/readings to the ol’ reliable method for tracking clarity – using a Secchi Disc (last pic).


And, when the work was done, Elizabeth (at left) took the helm and piloted Sea Girl back to our home berth on Back Creek – under the watchful of eye of our EO/Boat Captain, Steve.

Now You Can Help, Too

SERC is recruiting volunteers to download the app and start providing turbidity measures whenever and wherever you are on the Chesapeake.

The app can be used by citizen scientists all over the Chesapeake.

For more contact SERC’s Alison Cawood at