Coastal Monitoring Program

The Coastal Monitoring Program is an ongoing data collection effort that supports and informs science-based development of Nova Scotia’s marine coastal industry, guides government policy and management decisions, encourages environmental stewardship, and ensures preparedness for climate change.

The program was initiated by the Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture in the early 1990s to assist with aquaculture site selection and management. In 2019, CMAR assumed responsibility for the program and expanded its scope and mandate.

CMAR conducts high-resolution monitoring of ocean variables in Nova Scotia’s coastal waters including water quality, waves, and current variables. Monitoring typically takes place within 1 km of the coastline, at depths from 0 to 60 m. Occasional monitoring may take place in Nova Scotia’s lakes and rivers.

CMAR has published data collected dating back to 2015. As part of CMAR’s efforts to follow the FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable) data principles, data is made publicly accessible in a variety of formats.

Summary data for each county can be accessed below.

Water Quality

CMAR collects temperature, dissolved oxygen, and intermittent salinity. These data are typically recorded by autonomous sensors attached at various depths along sensor strings that are anchored to the ocean floor and suspended by a subsurface buoy.

Each sensor string is deployed in one location for several months. The sensors record data every 10 minutes to 1 hour. CMAR currently maintains and supports over 60 sensor strings and is continuously expanding into new areas throughout coastal Nova Scotia.


CMAR monitors several wave parameters, including wave height, wave period, and wave direction. This data is collected by several different sensor and buoy configurations. Most wave data is recorded by acoustic doppler current profilers (ADCPs), which also measure current speed and direction. CMAR owns three Xeos and three MarineLabs wind-wave surface buoys which collect wave metrics and streams weather data in near-real time to the CIOOS Atlantic platform.


CMAR collects water speed and direction data through the water column using acoustic doppler current profiler (ADCPs) sensor models. Many of the sensors used to collect current data also collect wave data.


Summary reports provide key figures and tables for an at-a-glance overview of oceanographic conditions. The reports can be accessed by clicking the points on the map below or from the Reports page.

Our team of experts transforms complex ocean data into simplified, accessible information streams and visuals for a diverse range of stakeholders.

Data Access

Processed water quality, wave, and current data are available on Nova Scotia’s Open Data Portal and CIOOS Atlantic for public viewing and download.


CMAR has developed and maintains a suite of packages in R (free, open-source statistical software) to facilitate processing Coastal Monitoring Program data. These packages, collectively known as the “CMAR-verse”, help to automate compiling, formatting, visualizing, and quality control of the data.

Data Governance

CMAR’s ongoing data governance initiatives ensure the production of high-quality data products.


Help us prioritize our data collection and processing efforts to better serve our stakeholders. If you have accessed or used any program data, please complete our questionnaire with your feedback.