Aerial and Field SAV Observations

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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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Eelgrass in the Honga River

May 15th, 2016 · Posted by admin· No Comments

David Harp (073)

Here’s a shot I made in the Honga River in May.  There was a thick patch of eelgrass mixed in with widgeon.

Zoom to this location on the interactive map.

Dave Harp

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Abundance of Chesapeake Bay’s underwater grasses rises 21% in 2015

April 28th, 2016 · Posted by admin· No Comments

An annual survey led by researchers at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science shows that the abundance of underwater grasses in Chesapeake Bay increased 21% between 2014 and 2015, an upsurge from 75,835 acres to 91,621 acres, which represents the highest total of the last 3 decades and just under half of the baywide 185,000-acre restoration goal.

Read more about the 2015 survey results…

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Vallisneria seed pods - Susquehanna Flats & Elk River

September 22nd, 2015 · Posted by admin· No Comments

Mark Lewandowski (003, 010)

I was up in the Flats to check Vallisneria seed pod development. Rogues Harbor had thousands of seed pods, but they were not quite ready for harvest. Also I paddled north out of Tydings Park up to the first bridge and there were Vallisneria seed pods everywhere.

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Tremendous amount of SAV in Potomac

August 11th, 2015 · Posted by Jeff Talbott· No Comments

Jeff Talbott (039, 047, 055)

We have seen a tremendous amount of SAV in the tidal Potomac embayments in Virginia this year. In Quantico Creek, the embayment is about ½ covered with SAV this year. Hydrilla, Eurasian watermilfoil and a few others. Aquia Creek has a large bed near the mouth and beds near the shores all the way up the embayment. In the upper embayment it is covered with SAV and lillypads. Belmont Bay has a large bed about a mile inside the embayment. This bed was also present last year.

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Lots of SAV in Hunting Creek, Gunston Cove, and Belmont Bay/Occoquan

July 30th, 2015 · Posted by admin· No Comments

Chris Jones (Quad 039)

Beaucoups of SAV at Hunting Cr, Gunston Cove and Belmont Bay/Occoquan!

The usual suspects: Hydrilla, Certophyllum, and Vallisneria among others.

Gunston Cove (7/21/15)

Hunting Creek, Potomac (7/30/15)

Hunting Creek, Potomac (7/30/15)

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Ruppia in the Choptank River, Maryland

August 19th, 2014 · Posted by admin· No Comments

Roby Hurley (Quad 044, 051)

There was a decent population of pondweed in the Tred Avon in early summer but it is mostly gone now. Recently, there has been a good abundance of Ruppia, in the lower Choptank on the Cook Point side (N38 37.245′ W76 16.512′). It must be dispersing now because there was a lot of it floating out in the Bay.

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August update on SAV in St. Mary’s River

August 12th, 2014 · Posted by admin· No Comments

Chris Tanner, SMCM (Quads 080)
I paddled from St. Mary’s College south, surveying shore from north of Chancellors Point, around Rosecroft Point, across to Windmill Point and along parts of the western shore back to the college. While not nearly as much SAV as in 2013 (as shown in the Google Earth image) there was widgeon grass from just southeast of Chancellors Point (see yellow marker) around Rosecroft Point to at least the area indicated by the green marker. The distribution was patchy and in shallow water (mostly 0.25 to 0.5 m MLW) but with deeper patches southeast of Chancellors Point. Plants with flowering shoots were largely in the shallower patches. The red markers indicate the location of the largest clump of flowering shoots. I did not see SAV at Windmill Point or along the western shore of the upper river. There was widgeon grass drifting with the tides and in the wrack around Chancellors Point, although not as much as I typically see this time of year.

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Thick SAV near Smith Island

August 7th, 2014 · Posted by admin· No Comments

Lee Karrh, MD-DNR (Quad 091)

We were out surveying around Smith Island Monday and Tuesday.  The widgeon grass was amazingly thick in Lightning Knot and Back Coves, with excellent water clarity.  At Fog Point, the eelgrass looked good in that bed on the northern Kedges Strait side of the Island.

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No SAV in St. Mary’s River

July 29th, 2014 · Posted by admin· No Comments

Lee Karrh, MD-DNR (Quad 080, 089)

Yesterday, we found virtually no SAV on the St. Mary’s.  We visited Windmill Point, Cherryfield Point, and many areas along the St. George Creek side of St. George Island.  Places that last year had abundant widgeon grass are now bare bottom. Brooke found one tiny area with a few sprigs at Windmill Point.  Becky noted that the ConMon data did show that the creek has been more turbid of late.

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