Connecticut National Estuarine Research Reserve

Connecticut National Estuarine Research Reserve

Reserve Information



Lead Agency

University of Connecticut
(Visit Site)


52,160 acres


Southeastern Connecticut with uplands in Lyme and Old Lyme along the lower Connecticut River, as well as in Groton. The headquarters are located in Groton (University of Connecticut Avery Point campus), with additional facility support in Old Lyme (Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Marine District Headquarters).

Additional Information

Diverse land and water areas, including subtidal hard bottom (boulder and gravel) and soft bottom (sand, silt, and clay) habitats at various depths (zero to approximately 50 meters); submerged aquatic vegetation beds and shellfish beds; saltwater and brackish intertidal marshes and flats; beaches and dunes; bluffs; coastal meadows and grasslands; shrublands; and forested-woodland areas.

Biogeographic Region


Tidal Range

Approximately 0.9 meters (Long Island Sound)

About This Reserve

The Connecticut National Estuarine Research Reserve protects a large area of the Long Island Sound (including parts of Fisher’s Island Sound), one of Connecticut’s most important natural resources; portions of the lower Thames River; and portions of the lower Connecticut River, which contains the highest fish diversity in the region, with 78 species—such as Atlantic salmon, and the endangered shortnose and Atlantic sturgeon—and includes areas recognized as “wetlands of international importance” by the Ramsar Convention. In addition, this reserve includes the following natural area preserves and state parks: Lord Cove Natural Area Preserve, Roger Tory Peterson Natural Area Preserve, Bluff Point State Park/Coastal Reserve/Natural Area Preserve, and Haley Farm State Park.

The Connecticut Reserve is one of 30 reserves in the National Estuarine Research Reserve System that are protected for long-term research, water quality monitoring, education, and coastal stewardship. The reserve is managed by the University of Connecticut in close partnership with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management provides funding, national guidance, and technical assistance.

Reserve Location and Boundaries