Bay Grasses

What is SAV?

SAV stands for submerged aquatic vegetation. SAV is more commonly known as bay grasses.

What are the effects of poor water clarity?

Poor water clarity does not allow sunlight to reach bay grasses growing at the bottom of shallow waters. These underwater grasses provide food and habitat for many animals, including fish, crabs and birds. Without bay grasses, these animals may not have the food and habitat they need to survive.

When do underwater grasses grow?

Underwater grasses, or submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV), have a growing season that typically runs from April through October.

What are underwater grasses?

Underwater grasses, also known as submerged aquatic vegetation or SAV, are plants that grow in the shallows of the Chesapeake Bay.

How many types of grasses grow in the Chesapeake Bay?

About 20 species of underwater grasses grow in the Chesapeake Bay and in lakes, streams, reservoirs and other bodies of water throughout the Bay watershed.

Why are underwater grasses important?

Underwater grasses are a critical part of the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem because they provide food and habitat for countless species. They also help keep the water clear and healthy by absorbing nutrients, trapping sediments, reducing erosion and adding oxygen.

What animals depend on underwater grasses?

Underwater grass beds form communities that provide food and shelter for many species. Fish, crabs and other animals visit grass beds to seek out food and find shelter from larger predators. Underwater grasses are also an important source of food for waterfowl such as ducks and geese.

How does a loss of underwater grasses affect other parts of the Chesapeake Bay?

Underwater grasses are a critical part of the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem. Without them, underwater creatures such as fish and blue crabs do not have the shelter they need to survive, and migratory waterfowl do not have enough food to eat.

Another important role of underwater grasses is to hold bottom sediments in place. If they are gone, waves can stir up bottom sediments and make the water cloudy. This can affect grass beds growing in other areas, because they need clear water to survive.

How can people save underwater grasses?

People can help save underwater grasses by reducing the amount of pollution they contribute to the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers. Three ways you can pollute less are: fertilize your lawn less, plant a buffer of trees and shrubs around your property, and maintain your septic system (if you have one). Also, when boating, make sure you don’t disturb grass beds in shallow areas.

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