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Chesapeake Bay Underwater Grasses

Published: September 22, 2003

Chesapeake Bay Underwater Grasses

Bay scientists believe that underwater bay grasses, also called submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV), once blanketed nearly 200,000 acres in the shallow waters along the shoreline of the Chesapeake Bay. The Chesapeake Bay Program partners recently adopted a bold, new goal to restore bay grasses to 185,000 acres in the Chesapeake and its tidal tributaries by 2010. It is important to restore Bay grasses because they provide essential food and habitat for many Bay species of waterfowl, fish, shellfish and invertebrates; remove suspended sediments from the water; protect shorelines from waves and erosion; and reoxygenate the waters of the Bay. Nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, as well as sediment in the water have choked the growth of SAV in many areas, and have contributed to declines in grass acreage throughout the Bay.

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