Aerial and Field SAV Observations

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More Eelgrass in South Bay

April 3rd, 2014 by Robert Orth · No Comments

Earlier I mentioned that as were mapping the South Bay bed from the 2013 photos we were stuck by the large number of ‘dark specks’ on the photos in an area at the south end of South Bay which we had not mapped yet.  These specks were in an area adjacent to an area we had been mapping and had been confirmed as grass.  The specks looked like grass patches as when we examined 2 sets of photos, one taken in Oct and the other in Nov., many of these specks present in Oct. were still there in Nov. When we created the polygon the area was around 450 acres which would be a significant increase to that Bay.

So yesterday, Corey, Barry and I checked out a number of spots in that polygon (see image on right) to confirm what we suspected were grass patches. And sure enough every spot we checked was eelgrass!! Patches ranged from small ones of 10-20 cm in diameter to large ones, maybe up to 2 m in diameter. In several places the patches were dense perhaps covering 25% of the area but in general the area will be mapped as cover class 1.  The plants were short (remember water temperatures have been below 10C so far) but shoot densities were high and almost all had flowering shoots meaning they were at least 2 years old, and some maybe 3 or 4 years old.  I also noticed a lot of seedlings in each area. What surprised me is that in one area (spot #2) we motored all the way west to the marsh edge on Mockhorn Isl. and noted many patches that most likely were 2 years old but because they were so sparse will not be seen in the photos.  And these were in an area that I thought we may not see eelgrass because of some macroalgal issues we have noted before.

These observations are significant in light of the fact that last year, the spring was incredibly windy and water clarity was terrible and had prevented us from getting out photographs last spring.  Yet these plants made it through last year and again many were at least 3 years old based on their size.

So the bottom line is that this South Bay bed continues to spread and expand which hopefully bodes well for our scallop work.

Last, yesterday was absolutely beautiful – warm and clear skies!  The water cleared up as the tide dropped and we could see all these patches very easily from the boat. The spread of patches in some areas was truly amazing! This was a great way to start the field season!  It was hard to leave and head back home.



PS – I even saw a redfish in about  a foot of water although Barry did not believe me – I think he was jealous because he did not see it himself!

Tags: SAV Observations

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