Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

New Hampshire’s Great Bay reserve protects more than 10,000 acres of natural lands and open water along the state’s “hidden coast”—from the bottom of the estuary where eelgrass sways with the tides to woodlands where sturdy oaks and pines tower above the forest floor. These varied habitats support rich communities of plants and animals, including oysters, lobsters, and horseshoe crabs; striped bass and cod; and the migratory osprey whose return to the bay each spring coincides with strong runs of spawning river herring. Reserve staff and volunteers work to reduce pollution flowing into the bay, conserve and manage natural resources, and adapt to the impacts of climate change. One priority for this reserve is to work with state and community partners to advance the use of natural buffer lands to improve water quality, reduce erosion, and protect habitat around the bay and throughout its watershed.

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Vital Stats

  • State: New Hampshire
  • State Partner:

    New Hampshire Fish and Game Department

  • Acreage: 10,235
  • Habitats: Upland forest and fields, open water, eelgrass beds, salt marsh, mudflats, tidal creeks, and rocky intertidal
  • Designated: 1989
  • Site Profile: View
The Great Bay reserve participates in the System-Wide Monitoring Program (SWMP), which collects, analyzes, and makes available weather, water quality, and nutrient data from all National Estuarine Research Reserves. Learn more


Great Bay’s grounds are open year round, from dawn to dusk. The reserve’s Discovery Center serves as the education headquarters with its interpretive exhibits and interactive displays. The Hugh Gregg Coastal Conservation Center, designed with sustainability features such as geothermal heating and cooling, provides meeting space for educators, scientists, and coastal decision makers, as well as exhibits for the general public. Download the Great Bay Passport  for information about exploring the reserve.


Volunteer at the Great Bay Discovery Center for school programs, meet and greet visitors in the exhibit room, maintain the grounds, adopt one of the Discovery Center gardens, or participate in special projects and work days.

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Become a Friend

The Great Bay Stewards, a non-profit friends group, supports the reserve. The stewards are committed to protecting and preserving the vitality of the Great Bay estuarine ecosystem through education, land protection, research, and outreach.

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Cory Riley
Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve
89 Depot Road, Greenland, NH 03840
T: 603-294-0146