Bay grasses - also known as submerged aquatic vegetation or SAV - are plants that grow underwater in the Chesapeake Bay's shallows. More than 16 species of bay grasses grow in the Bay and its tributaries.
Bay grasses are a very important part of the Bay ecosystem. Fish, crabs, waterfowl are a few of the many animals that depend on bay grasses for food and habitat.
Different species of bay grasses grow in different parts of the Bay because of salinity, or the amount of salt in the water. For example, eelgrass prefers the saltier waters of the lower Bay. Other bay grasses, such as naiads and wild celery, only grow in the fresh waters of the upper Bay and the Bay's tributaries.
Click on the images below to learn about some of the bay grasses that grow in the Chesapeake Bay.
These bay grasses grow in the fresh waters of the upper Chesapeake Bay and the Bay's streams, creeks and rivers. Some may also grow in non-tidal waters such as ponds, lakes and reservoirs.
These bay grasses grow in slightly or moderately brackish waters in the middle Chesapeake Bay and the Bay's rivers.
These bay grasses grow in the salty waters of the lower Chesapeake Bay and its rivers.