Aerial and Field SAV Observations

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Abundance of Chesapeake Bay’s underwater grasses rises 8% in 2016

April 27th, 2017 · Posted by admin· No Comments

An annual survey led by researchers at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science shows the abundance of underwater grasses in Chesapeake Bay increased 8% between 2015 and 2016, continuing an upward trend initiated in 2012.

The increase makes 2016 the second consecutive year since VIMS began its aerial survey in 1984 that the baywide acreage of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) has reached a new high. A total of 97,433 acres of SAV were mapped in Chesapeake Bay during 2016.

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Harris Creek

September 6th, 2016 · Posted by admin· No Comments

Lisa Kellogg (Quads 036, 043)

Here are a couple of photos of the grass up at Harris Creek on August 18th.  We went to great effort to collect this on our new pump intake :)

Here is a photo of one sample that contained grass that gives you a rough estimate of the density.

Unfortunately, the photos of the rest of the samples with grass did not turn out very well. On the whole, the grass seemed less dense in August than it was in May.  But, as you can see from the photos above, there was still grass with flowers and seeds.  We will be going back up to Harris Creek the last week of September.

View the SAV Interactive Map

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“Explosion” of SAV in the Chester River

August 31st, 2016 · Posted by admin· No Comments

Isabel Hardesty (Quads 022, 193)

We have definitely been noticing tons of grasses. We actually just went out yesterday to inspect a reported sighting of “something big and dark in the water” near the Chestertown bridge, and discovered a couple of large, floating mats of Hydrilla.
We also just had a landowner north of the Crumpton bridge report increasing grass beds along their 3,000 foot shoreline over the past 3 years, with an explosion of grasses this year. They have wild celery and hydrilla, with the explosion this year being hydrilla.

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Potomac near DCA

August 22nd, 2016 · Posted by admin· No Comments

Corrine Irwin (Quad 034)

Surveyed the Potomac River from Gravelly Point, along the full perimeter of DCA, through and beyond the Washington Sailing Marina/Dangerfield Island (38.864427, -77.038515 to 38.830060, -77.038029). It was wonderful to see such a thick, lush bed of grasses yesterday!  I’m not sure how far beyond the lat/long I provided it extended. I saw Cd, Ed, Hd, Nm, and Va. Hd was most prevalent, with other species interspersed, and a few dense areas of Va.  Grass bed was dense throughout the area, extending from the shoreline out about 75-100 feet or more.

Zoom to this location on the interactive map.

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Lower James River

August 16th, 2016 · Posted by admin· No Comments

Paul Richardson (Quad 147)

Corey, Casey and I just returned from the James.  The good news is that we’ve recovered 100% of the 3 temperature sensors there.  The other good news is that the grass looks pretty decent adjacent to the north island of the Bridge tunnel.  There is also patchy grass in the areas of the eastern most and western most HOBOs but it was almost absent at the middle sensor, adjacent to Hampton Roads Ave.

The bad news is that all sites beyond the bridges in Mill Creek had patches of Gracilaria macroalgae with no evidence of grass at the four locations that we checked along this area.  Exact locations are noted on a map that I have here.  We did, however, check the bed to the left of the scallop boats where there was some grass mixed with Gracilaria.

Also, we saw a pod of dolphins in Mill Creek, so for Casey’s last day in the field for the season, it was an overall success!

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Gibson Island

August 16th, 2016 · Posted by admin· No Comments

Mark Lewandowski (Quad 024)

Dave Harp, Mike Norman and I went to monitor our restoration sites yesterday, and found a lot of grass.  I threw together a few slides.

These are roughly the areas we seeded.

This is where we observed SAV yesterday.  The smaller polygon at the top had mostly milfoil 80%, the rest was elodea, some redhead with a very tiny amount of ruppia.  We planted redhead and ruppia seeds in this area.

This is a zoom in on the larger beds.  The left polygon was 70% redhead, 25% ruppia, with a small amount of elodea.  The redhead and elodea looked as though it had been established for a while(dense, thick roots and stems, very fouled), but ruppia was very green and vibrant.  The two overlapping polygons to the right were very dense.  Where they overlap was all milfoil.  The rest is ruppia, redhead and elodea again.

We will be back there in a few weeks to do a more thorough monitoring.

Zoom to this location in the interactive map

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Eastern Neck Area

August 11th, 2016 · Posted by admin· No Comments

Terry Willis (Quad 009, 015, 021, 026)

This season’s growth along the bayside of Eastern Neck has been good, with extremely dense beds along the shoreline, beginning north of Tubby Cove and extending into Calf Pasture Cove.  Shipyard Creek also is well covered (acres-mostly milfoil, but with wigeon grass also) but a late June trip through Durding Creek was mostly barren.  Have not been to Church or Hail Creeks yet.  There has also been good growth in Rock Hall Harbor and in Swan Creek along the southern shore in and amongst the marinas.  Mostly millfoil.  Fairlee Creek also has some small patches around the docks at Great Oak Marina-milfoil with some wild celery thrown in (the wild celery has been there the past two seasons).

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Miles River Observations

June 10th, 2016 · Posted by admin· No Comments

Drew Koslow (Quad 037)

I was out on my standup paddle board Friday, June 10, during dead low tide and saw a huge bed extending from the mouth of Oak Creek to the North. Wherever there was grass the density was 100% but there are occasional patches without grass. Overall density is about 80%.

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Smith Island Observations, June 2016

June 6th, 2016 · Posted by admin· No Comments

Brooke Landry

The SAV in Smith Island usually looks pretty healthy, but they looked even better than usual last week. No epiphytes and bright bright green. Zostera and Ruppia!

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Aerial Update 5/20/16

May 20th, 2016 · Posted by Robert Orth· No Comments

Report on observations from a low level flight over the seaside bays and lower western shore

On Friday, May 20, Jon Lefcheck and I took a low reconnaissance flight out of Newport News to assess the SAV situation in the VA coastal bays and a portion of the lower western shore.  A concern was the eelgrass coverage in the coastal bays, esp. South Bay where eelgrass in the primary restoration region had declined last year around June. The flight path took us over the Poquoson Flats over to Fisherman’s Island and then up the coastal bays to Hog Island Bay, across the Chesapeake to just south of Gwynn’s Island, around New Point, along the north shore of the Mobjack Bay to just across Ware Pt., crossing Ware Pt, towards Guinea Marsh along the shoreline, and then to Sandy Pt in the York River, where SAV folks were harvesting eelgrass flowering shoots, across Goodwin Island and towards the Coast Guard area and then on to the Poquoson Flats. We then went over the mouth of Back River, heading to the James River where we went from the HRBT to the MMBT, and finally back to Newport News. Total flight time was a little over 2 hrs (1230-230). Altitude for observations was 500’.

Seaside lagoons – water clarity in general was excellent. We flew these bays almost at low tide. YSI’s were at about 3 NTU’s.

Fisherman’s Island and Magothy Bay- nothing appeared like eelgrass except for that very narrow strip in the inside of Fisherman’s Isl. which we have mapped in previous years. We noted a lot of aquaculture.

South Bay – eelgrass at the south end of South Bay looked dense and continuous, about similar to what we mapped in 2015. The narrow strip of eelgrass on the south side of Ship Shoal channel was still present. The central portion of South Bay, which was the area first seeded, was patchy (perhaps a density class of 2) but was certainly better than I expected. There were some areas of that central portion that did look dense, e.g., the area just north of the second bay scallop location and an area Bo indicated he noted dense grass. The grass tapered off as you moved south to the central deeper areas of South Bay. Prominent features were the circular dredge scars we first noted in 2014. They did not look like they had revegetated nor could I tell if more had been made in the last year. But they were very obvious. Eelgrass on shoal to the east of Running Channel also looked really good.

Cobb Bay – eelgrass was dense and continuous in the areas we mapped last year, incl. much of the east side and around Big Easter Marsh.

Spider Crab Bay – the eelgrass distribution appeared about the same as last year but the eelgrass on that shallow shoal on the west side where we seeded last year continues to look good. I could not see the patches of adult plants we planted last fall. At the north end of Spider Crab, a number of plots that were planted many years ago were still evident, meaning little fill in between plots, unlike what we observed in South Bay.  Also, I could not see any evidence of the ‘NOAA’ letters

Hog Island Bay – eelgrass appeared densest at the northern, shallower end. Also, it appeared eelgrass had colonized all around one of the big aquaculture plots at that north end outside the set aside area. Eelgrass was also present on the west side of the shallow shoal of our set aside that looked a bit denser than last year. One interesting observation was the presence of a large number of dense patches to the east of the planted bed and outside he set aside. It’s a distinct possibility they were eelgrass but we have to check it out to be 100% certain. I noted the locations on our GPS unit.

Western Shore

· SAV looked dense around Horn Harbor

· SAV looked dense all along the north shore of the Mobjack Bay.

· SAV along the south side of Ware Pt was indeed sparse which we noted in our ground survey earlier in the week!

· SAV was dense off 4 Point Marsh but not as dense as last year.

· SAV was very sparse at Browns Bay where our transects are located.

· SAV off Guinea Marsh was dense inshore and SAV patches went way out off the marsh islands.

· York River north shore SAV looked good up to Sandy Pt.

· I could see a number of SAV patches off the south shore along the refinery pier but densest patch was AJ’s experiments. We could not get too close because of the height of the smoke stacks from the refinery.

· SAV along the bayside of Goodwin Island was sparse.

· The eelgrass off Poquoson Flats on the large sandbar was still present with numerous patches surrounding the denser area. The main SAV bed looked dense but it was hard to tell just how far the bed went offshore.

· The main SAV bed in the center of Back River looked dense.

· SAV along the James River from the HRBT to the MMBT was dense in many of the same areas as in 2015

We made an interesting observation at the New Point lighthouse. We spotted 100s of cownose rays swimming across a shallow sandy shoal at the lighthouse. It was a continuous band of ray after ray. It was impressive!

Water clarity in the Bay was really good – offshore sand bars were visible.

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