Aerial and Field SAV Observations

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Bay grasses up but below goal

May 3rd, 2010 by admin · No Comments

An annual aerial survey led by researchers at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science shows that underwater grasses covered 85,899 acres of  Chesapeake Bay and its tidal rivers in 2009. This was a 12 percent increase from 76,860 acres in 2008 and the highest baywide acreage since 2002. The 2009 SAV abundance represents a 46% attainment of the 2010 restoration target of 185,000 acres set by the Chesapeake Bay Program.

Bay grasses—also called submerged aquatic vegetation or SAV—are critical to the Bay ecosystem because they provide habitat and nursery grounds for fish and blue crabs, serve as food for animals such as turtles and waterfowl, clear the water, absorb excess nutrients, and reduce shoreline erosion. Bay grasses are also an excellent measure of the Bay’s overall condition because they are not under harvest pressure and their health is closely linked to water quality.

VIMS professor Bob Orth, leader of the SAV baywide annual survey, says “The overall increase in SAV acreage in 2009 was strongly driven by changes in the middle and lower Bay zones, including Tangier Sound, the lower central and eastern lower Chesapeake Bay, Mobjack Bay and the Honga, Rappahannock, and lower Pocomoke rivers.”

Bay grass acreage increased in all three of the Bay’s geographic zones—upper, middle and lower—for just the second time since 2001.

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Tags: SAV News

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