The Goodwin Islands are mostly marshland but also include some forested areas. Photo: Tricia Hooper, NOAA Office for Coastal Management
The Goodwin Islands are a collection of primarily salt marsh islands surrounded by intertidal flats and extensive beds of submerged aquatic vegetation. They are located on the south side of Virginia’s York River, where it meets the Chesapeake Bay. They are part of NOAA’s Middle Peninsula Habitat Focus Area. Habitat Focus Areas are places where NOAA addresses a high-priority habitat issue by working with partners and communities.
In the Goodwin Islands, climate change threatens habitat and the species that depend on it. Waves caused by intense storms chip away at the shoreline, especially on the islands’ more exposed east and south shorelines. Rising waters bring saltwater intrusion that affects plant life. These changes can mean that areas that were formerly upland forests become marshes, and former marshy areas become open water.
At the Goodwin Islands, scientists study how submerged aquatic vegetation and coastal marshes respond to environmental change. A recent visit to Goodwin Islands, captured in these photos, highlights the beauty of the area and showcases some of the science happening in the Reserve.
North Atlantic right whale Catalog #3560 ‘Snow Cone’ sighted December 2, 2021 entangled and with a new calf. Photo credit: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission taken under NOAA permit 20556.