JES Avanti Foundation supports UMCES’ DolphinWatch efforts

July 11, 2023

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Chesapeake Biological Laboratory announces its first sponsorship donation from the JES Avanti Foundation to support its Chesapeake DolphinWatch program.

Photo by Chris Moe

“With this multi-year funding, we can continue to raise awareness of Chesapeake Bay bottlenose dolphin habitat, engage community members, and help inform natural resource managers and policy-makers as they continue their work in Chesapeake Bay conservation,” said Chesapeake DolphinWatch Coordinator Jamie Testa. “The Avanti Foundation and its staff were and early supporter of DolphinWatch, and we are so grateful.”

Thousands of residents and visitors with their eyes on the water have helped scientists understand when bottlenose dolphins are visiting the Chesapeake Bay through the Chesapeake DolphinWatch App. Since 2017, scientists have received over 7,000 reports of dolphin sightings—submitted by over 13,000 app users—to help track the patterns of dolphin visits to the Bay.

The JES Avanti Foundation’s $60,000 grant over three years will enable necessary upgrades to the app’s capabilities and support staff members who spend a considerable amount of time to validate reported sightings for quality control. Staff will also be able to continue their outreach efforts, including partnerships with local organizations and agencies that work across the Chesapeake Bay region.

“We are pleased to help keep the DolphinWatch program going. It is a valuable tool that appeals to everyone living near or recreating on the Chesapeake Bay, and we hope this encourages more participation with the app and inspires others to support the program, as well,” said Liz Sanders, a founder of the JES Avanti Foundation.

Before DolphinWatch, bottlenose dolphins were thought to only be summer visitors to the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, but after launching the app and listening underwater for dolphins, UMCES researchers discovered there were more frequent sightings and detections over a broader area than they had expected.

To download the app or to find out how to become a sponsor, visit

Located where the Patuxent River meets the Chesapeake Bay, the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory is the oldest publicly supported marine laboratory on the East Coast. Founded in 1925, it has been a national leader in fisheries, estuarine ecology, environmental chemistry and toxicology. Scientists conduct research from the Chesapeake Bay and around the globe. From advising state and national agencies on sustainable fisheries management and breaking new ground in understanding how chemicals move between the atmosphere, sediments, and water to renowned work on nutrient dynamics and the food web, the lab is developing new scientific approaches to solving the major environmental problems that face our world.