Mid-season monitoring of underwater bay grasses in Virginia’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay is showing beds of eelgrass and widgeon grass that are similar to or slightly denser and larger than 2008, reflecting continued recovery from a large-scale eelgrass die-off in 2005, according to updates from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS).
Bay grasses, also known as submerged aquatic vegetation or SAV, provide critical habitat for juvenile fish and molting blue crabs. Bay grasses also help improve the Bay’s health by adding oxygen to the water and reducing erosion.
Based on these mid-season observations, total bay grass acreage in the lower Bay is expected to be higher than in 2008, but still far below the peak seen in the 1990s, according to Dr. Robert Orth with VIMS. The Bay Program will release bay grass acreage figures for the entire Chesapeake Bay in spring.
Along the Bay’s western Virginia shore:
On the Eastern Shore:
Read the full mid-summer monitoring report on VIMS’ SAV observation blog.