Excellent news for the Chesapeake Bay this week as underwater grasses — literally, meadows — grew by an astounding 8% last year. From Karl Blankenship over at the Bay Journal:
Nearly 100,000 acres of the Bay’s and its tidal tributaries were covered by the underwater meadows, which provide habitat for juvenile fish and blue crabs, as well as food for waterfowl.
That was an 8 percent increase over 2015, and more than twice what was in the Bay just four years ago. “It was an impressive year following a previously impressive year and we are at numbers that we’ve not seen — ever,” said Bob Orth, an underwater grass expert with the Virginia Institute of Marine Science who oversees the annual aerial survey, which began 33 years ago.
Now there are some caveats… some areas of the bay are covered in a grass that is known to appear and disappear in waves. Another area of question? Pax River… where the naval station there prevents any sort of accurate measurement (for understandable reasons).
Still, the news is pretty exciting for Bay watchers as the permanence of these beds will help reverse a few decades of damage and a few years of runoff during some massive storms — runoff that contributes to algae and clouds the waters which chokes off these underwater meadows and their ability to get sunlight. By having them there, they act like a toothbrush for the Bay… and with a few years of permanence, they can survive major storms as well.
Give the entire article a read. I learned a thing or two about the Chesapeake myself.