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Polarized solar radiation reflected from water bodies contains useful additional information on inherent optical properties, concentrations and size distributions of water constituents if compared with unpolarized data. We report the use of a modified hyperspectral radiance sensor with very high sensitivity in order to study in detail polarization characteristics of reflectance from field measurements in coastal waters. To compare multi-angular hyperspectral field measurements with theory, radiative transfer computations of the water-leaving radiance were performed. Good agreement between simulation and angularly-resolved field measurements was observed in a certain angular range, which can be considered less affected by Sun glint. The results of the analysis are also used to develop design criteria for effective polarization sensors aimed to measure above and underwater characteristics of polarized light in coastal regions.