08/17/98 Harry Womack, Salisbury State University - SAV in St. Martin's Creek
08/17/98 Bob Orth, VIMS - SAV Aerial Update (Upper Rappahanock River, Lower Potomac River, Little Choptank River, Chester River, Mainstem from Eastern Neck Island to Sassafras River, Northeast River, West River, Rhode River, South River, Severn River, Magothy River, Bodkin Creek, Patapsco River, Bush River, Romney and Little Romney Creeks, Mainstem from Pooles Is. to Spesutie Is., Gunpowder River, Dundee Creek, Saltpeter Creek, Seneca Creek, and Middle River, )
05/31/98 Peter Bergstrom, USFWS - SAV Ground truthing, Clements Creek Severn R.
05/25/98 Bob Orth, VIMS - SAV Aerial Update (South of Cape Charles to Pocomoke Sound, Great Fox Island, Little and Big Annemessex rivers, Tangier to Smith Island, South Marsh Island, Bloodsworth Island, Holland and Spring Islands, Windmill Pt. to Smith Pt., lower Rappahannock River, Broad Bay, Little Creek, and Lynnhaven River)
SAV in Eastern Bay - September 26, and October 3, 1998
A report on my minimal endeavors the weekends of 9/26 and 10/3 to
keep up with SAV in Eastern Bay:
Rm beds reduced from this time last year. There were considerable
rafts of drift material last year. These rafts were broken off from
mature/ senescing beds full of seed. Presently there is very little
growing to the surface but what does exist appears fairly green with
some flowers. Short green plants are more evident indicating possible
Secchi readings in E. Bay are about half of last year. The eel
grass bed which was obvious from it's discovery in August through the
fall last year, has evidentally experienced a total die-back this
year. There wasn't even any wigeon present. secchi reading at this
site was approx. 1 meter this year...... 2 meters last.
Redhead and sago which dominated nearshore in marshy creek at this
time last year is now almost totally dominated by milfoil.
My family has lived on Greenwood Creek since 1962. Even during the
milfoil explosion of the 1960's milfoil was not observed in the creek.
This year we have a few lone shoots appearing with drift plants
showing adventitious roots. Rangia are also noted for the first time.
Last year's oyster set is very evident around my folks pier. In
addition, ribbed(?) mussels also experienced a great set. This is also
evident along the peat banks in the Wye. Haven't been able to pick up
oysters like four leaved clovers since the 70's. I wish we had planted
some shell. Oysters attached to wood, concrete, and the very limited
amount of shell available.
The area around Romancoke pier which experienced heavy clamming
activity in the summer is nearly bare. Goose Pt. at the mouth of Cox
Creek is bare. This area also had a "class 4 bed" last year. Though no
clammers were seen, Goose Pt. is located behind a well marked clam buoy
The bulkhead/riprap structure maintaining the existence of Bodkin
Is. has still not been stabilized!!!!! La Nina may finish it!!!!!!
100s of mute swans at various locations around the bay.
Redhead in the Wye is severely stressed by turbidity. The beds do
not appear to have expanded since last year. Very difficult to
evaluate on a weekend when the jet skis et al are active. Secchi
readings of .6m in the middle of the river on the weekend, and .7m
during the week. Stems are almost leafless at this point looking like
limp pieces of hemp cord floating on the surface.
Redhead transects planted in the Wye could not be adequately
evaluated: tide too high and turbidity lousey. Some plants noted on 5
of 6 lines. Attempted to protect some grass from swans etc. with
wire. Learned not to be greedy and try to protect too large an area.
Wire uprooted some plants which showed a pityful, wimpey (less than
Some plants that were planted in late July in the Wye River
showed immediate signs of stress (blackening of stems and leaves).
This may have been due to the planting technique. Many blackened
stems showed growth of 1-2 inch plants and adventitious roots from
the upper leaf nodes within 1 week of planting.
Redhead in Cox/Warehouse Creeks looks considerably better with
dense growth and some green shoots.
Could not find eel grass planted in the Choptank. Will look
again on a below normal tide this winter. Area was corraled with
wire to fend off swans etc. Should at least find the wire. Area is
known to have been worked heavily by clammers..............!
Individual redhead plants with up to 3 stems stuck in the
intertidal zone at home showed some spreading from 9 of 10 plants.
Transects on Greenwood Crk.were not planted over a long enough
gradient. Success was noted at all depths with marked gaps in
between. Some plants planted at 10cm intervals expanded outward from
the line to a width of up to 8 feet(approx. 4 ft to each side).
Plants showed no effort to flower. Noted possible buildup of bottom
sediments at the near-shore site. This may add to the supposition
that loss of SAV, in addition to shoreline stabilization, sealevel
rise and land subsidence in the higher energy open-water areas has
contributed to the deepening of historical shallow water habitats. Do
you think clamming contributes as
Cumulative stress noted in Eastern Bay and vicinity this year
Heavy spring rains
Excessive turbidity from phytoplankton
Excessive epiphytic growth
Excessive boat wake driven turbidity(especially tribs.)
Excessive turbidity from clamming operations(local)
Mechanical removal of plants by clamming operations
Excessive turbidity caused by crab scraping
Mowing/removal of plants by crab scraping operations
Excessive grazing by 100s of mute swans
Excessive turbidity caused by cow-nosed
Uprooting of plants by cow-nosed rays
Gall formation on wigeon grass early in the growing season
causing plants to break off prematurely.
Removal of up to 500,000 bushels of seed oysters (according to
the Baltimore Sun Paper) for sustaining commercial beds
Excessive fecal coliform counts in the Wye River from ...."we
know not where"!
SAV Aerial Update - October 2, 1998 - Flown September 24
Flightlines Flown on Sept. 24 - reflown segments of lines 125, 126 127,
and 129 on the Potomac R.
Excellent coverage again of the large bed at the Woodrow Wilson Bridge
(both sides) but there is an area of SAV that shows up very clearly this
time in the embayment just up from the Belle Haven marina, an area that
formerly had dense beds in the late 80's but where no SAV has been reported
recently. Groundtruthing by USGS has confirmed this SAV presence which is
Very dense SAV in Chicamuxen Creek and patchy dense beds throughout
Mattawoman Creek, but esp. the upper portions of the creek.
Dense bed along the eastern shoreline of Belmont Bay, as well as in a few
other locations in this bay.
North shore of Patapsco River (Flightline 52) - no SAV.
Upper portions of Back and Middle rivers (Flightline 51) - no SAV.
Elk and Bohemia rivers (Flightline 40 and 41) - SAV present
in sparse to patchy beds in many of the same areas as in past years.
One area across from Welch Point has become a very dense and continuous
bed this year.
Northeast River (Flightline 42) - no SAV.
Susquehanna River (Flightline 43) - dense fringing beds along both
shorelines and islands from Robert Isl. to Havre de Grace, again in the
same areas as the last few years.
Perry Pt. to Furnace Bay (Flightline 44) - very dense and continuous beds
up to Furnace Bay. Patchy to dense beds in Furnace Bay with a very dense
bed at the mouth of Furnace Bay.
Susquehanna Flats (Flightlines 42, 43, 44, 45) - no different than all past
years - almost no SAV.
Spesutie Narrows (Flightline 45 and 46 - reflown segments) - SAV abundant
along both shorelines as in past years.
Dundee Creek and mouth of Gunpowder River (Flightlines 48 and 49 - reflown segments) - as noted last time in the aerial update sent to you on
Aug. 17, SAV is very abundant in Dundee Creek and wraps around Battery Pt.
in the Gunpowder. Patchy beds are evident in many deeper portions of the
Gunpowder River between Rickett Point and Days Point (note - this area has
been extensively groundtruthed by the APG group of Mike Weldon and Julie
Rappahannock River (Lines 142a, 142b) -
*** New flightlines flown for the first time from Port Royal to
Fredericksburg - no apparent SAV in the mainstem areas (no notable shoal
areas as seen in the Potomac that could support dense assemblages of SAV) -
there appears to be SAV fringing both banks of a couple of small creeks as
we have also seen elsewhere.
James River (Lines 162, 163, 164, 165) -
*** New flightlines flown for the first time in the James River from
Hopewell to Richmond (both the James and Appomattox rivers) - no SAV
apparent in upper James and Appomattox both in the mainstem (although there
were no large shoal areas) or in the small creeks entering the mainstem.
Upper Chickahominy - (continuation of flightline conducted earlier)- SAV in
many sections although the denser beds remain further downstream.
Upper portion of Upper Chippokes Creek and Ward Creek - dense beds in Upper
Chippokes (which were groundtruthed by Ken and Dave) and in the very upper
portions of Wards Creek.
Potomac River (Lines 118-124, 133, 76, 76A) - (Incredible!!!!!)
SAV beds dense along entire shoreline of mainstem from Maryland Point to
Port Tobacco River as well as along both shorelines of this river. Very
dense beds in Nanjemoy Creek, many of which were just patchy beds last
year. Large bed across from Maryland Point on the Virginia side present
and dense this year. SAV beds in Potomac and Aquia Creeks, with beds along
mainstem coming out of mouth of Potomac Creek still present. Dense beds in
Mallows Bay to Wades Bay. Most interesting note is that the beds south of
Quantico in the Widewater area are once again very dense. This is amazing
considering that they had been declining over the last few years, and only
last year, appeared almost non-existent. In one year they appear to be
approaching the maximum distribution noted in the early 90s!!! wow!!!
Also, very dense beds around Chopawamsic Island.
SAV beds dense along both shorelines this year in Rosier and Upper Machodoc
creeks. There appears to be more SAV this year than last. Some new beds
have appeared in several small coves at the mouth of Monroe Bay (just south
of Colonial Beach).
I went out yesterday on the Chincoteague Bay to assure a
transplantation site on the landward side of the Chincoteague at Public
Landing, then to measure water clarity around the major SAV bed at the
VA- MD line (the water inside is still gin clear, the water outside
quite turbid), but while I was there I did substantial study of the
shoreline along the landward side of the Chincoteague from Tizzard
Island up to Public Landing. The results were quite surprising. I
found three Zostera beds, and three Ruppia beds which were not
The Zostera beds were located:
Off the beach about 200 yds. north of Public Landing (a plus one
At the mouth of a large cove toward the east end of an area your
maps refer to as Big Bay Point a plus one bed).
On the north side of Tizzard Island (there were actually 2 beds
which were quite close together, on toward the north center of the
island and one toward the eastern end of the island (I would call
The three Ruppia beds were located:
On a stretch between Hog Island and a cove right next to Bridge
Creek (there was none in the cove). Again a plus one bed.
Along the landward side of Brockanorton Bay (again plus one.)
In an indentation along the south edge of Scott Hammock (this one
was a plus 4. Not a large bed, but one of the finest I have seen on the
I will get marked maps down to you as soon as I get a chance. There
was a ton of dead Zostera along the shore line and in many areas
along the bottom (I was careful to assure that the beds I noted had
substantial rooted vegetation in them. Much of the grass was in very
bad shape, with a ton of fouling and algal growth mixed in (I have
previously noted that the algae (especially gracillaria) comes
in as the grass dies off and adheres to the site over winter, with SAV
shoots and roots embedded along the bottom. There were many areas
which appeared to have grass, but in which all the grass was dead. I'm
not sure why this is. It could be that there were patches that
developed, died a little early, and I saw them, or it could be that
dead grass just congregated in these areas (I tend to lean toward the
There was also a bit more algae down in the big Chincoteague bed
than previously ewncountered.
Our plan was to look over the bays early, then look again late. The
one area I have almost totally neglected in between Public Landing and
South Point. I'll try to get to this soon (but time is very scarce.
SAV Aerial Update - September 8, 1998 - Flown August 20 (Potomac R.) and 21 (James and York rivers)
Lines 149, 150, 152, 153, 154, 156, 157, 158. 159
*** New flightlines flown for the first time over the mid-York River to
West Point, the remainder of the Pamunkey and Mattaponi rivers and the
remainder of the James River.
YORK RIVER - no SAV beds apparent in the mainstem and the two tribs.
JAMES RIVER - some very surprising observations which have been confirmed
by ground observations conducted by Ken Moore and Dave Wilcox who were
investigating present and former SAV locations in the upper James and its
tributary creeks! A flightline conducted earlier of the Chickahominy
River revealed some dense beds both in the mainstem and many of the smaller
creeks off the mainstem. Part of the flightline done Aug. 21 covers the
mouth of the Chickahominy and shows what are some smaller beds right at the
mouth and into the James. The adjacent creek, Tomahund Creek, also has
dense fringing SAV beds throughout the creek. Some of the beds were quite
dense and large and SAV extended up to the surface. Some of the beds are
too small to be seen on the photos.
Some fringing beds in Mill Creek which is next to Jamestown Island, as well
as some very small marsh creeks off Back River and Powhatten Creek (both
these tribs are next to Jamestown Island).
SAV beds noted in Grays Creek (just up from the ferry landing at Scotland)
from the mouth to the headwaters. These were not groundtruthed.
SAV beds noted in Upper Chippokes Creek. What makes the photos of this
creek quite fascinating is that you can actually see clumps of SAV floating
down the river, which is what Ken and Dave noted when they ground truthed
this river. These floating mats are potential propagules being exported
out of the river to the mainstem James! One bed in the creek was noted in
NOAA ground truth data that dated from 1948.
Overall impressions of what we noted both from the photos and the field -
although no SAV was noted in the mainstem James (historical photos as well
as old nautical charts do show SAV in the mainstem), we were surprised by
how much SAV we did see in a number of tributaries off the James,
especially the Chickahominy and right to the mouth and into the James. Ken
indicated that there appeared to be more SAV in the Chickahominy than what
he noted back in 1978 when he surveyed this area for SAV. This certainly
suggests that the potential for SAV to grow and survive in the James is a
distinct possibility, esp. if propagules are being exported from these
smaller tribs into the mainstem James. None of the mid-river flats which
apparently had SAV in the 1930's and 40's had any SAV. The water depths
were appropriate however, generally less than 0.5 m at low water. These
depths were similar to the vegetated areas in the Chickahominy. Areas
upriver from Hopewell, including those which were reported to have SAV in
the 1940's were not checked. What we really need to do is conduct a
comprehensive survey of all the creek areas in the James, York and
POTOMAC RIVER - (lines 125-132) SAV bed adjacent to Woodrow
Wilson bridge very dense and continuous north of the bridge, and for
the first time in the last few years, there is some SAV on south side
of the bridge. SAV beds along shoreline up from the Blue Pains STP.
SAV beds adjacent to airport are present this year and are especially
dense at the south end. No SAV noted at Roosevelt Island. SAV
present in Washington Channel in same area it has been noted earlier.
Little SAV noted in Anacostia. SAV fringing along Smoots Bay shoreline
south to Piscataway Creek, incl. Broad Creek. Along the eastern shore
from Crescent Marsh to off Fort Hunt across from Piscataway Creek. SAV
along shoreline between Dogue Creek and Gunston Cove. SAV present in a
number of areas within Mattawoman and Chicamuxen creeks. (Note - lower
half of lines 126-127 and 128 will be reflown due to poor SAV
During our recent field work on the Potomac River we have seen a very
large blue green algae bloom (possibly Macrosystis?) in the mainstem.
We first noticed this bloom two weeks ago and the algae has just gotten
thicker since. The bloom is coloring the water starting around Dogue
Creek and Greenway Flats area (near Marshall Hall) and stretches all the
way down to Maryland Point. The algae is really clumping together into
giant globs in and around Wades Bay and Blue Banks, north of Maryland
Cobb Island area survey.
Here is the latest on the vegetation in the Cobb Island area. Aqualand
Marina has a lot of Myr in the sheltered slip area. The bed south of
the powerplant is still going strong with Val and P. perf. Piccowaxen
Creek has dense Myr on the shore near the mouth and some Ruppia in the
middle of the mouth. Cuckold Creek has a nice bed of Myr lining the
entire shore. There is a nice big bed of Ruppia just south of Swan
Point. The shallow areas north of the Neal Sound Channel are full of
Ruppia while the part of the sound between Cobb Island and Rock Point is
full of Myr. The Myr is a lot denser than last year and is choking out
many of the marina and restaurant docks. On the Virginia shore Rosier
Creek has a lot of Myr lining its shore. Finally Upper Machodoc Creek
has a good lining of mixed vegetation along the shore including Val,
Myr, P. perf, and Ruppia.
The vegetation from Maryland Point up to the Mallows Bay is almost the
same as last year. The bed in Wades Bay is very large and dense, made
up of Val with some Myr and H. dubia. The Blue Banks bed is narrower
than the Wades Bay bed and has the same composition. The Mallows Bay
bed seems to be bigger and denser than last year, almost filling the
channel that allows access to the back of the bay. There is also a
giant bed in the Brent Marsh area of the river on the Virginia side.
The southern end of this bed is primarily Hydrilla that extends out into
2 meters of water. The northern end of this bed is primarily Najas
minor which has expanded into an area that was not vegetated last year.
While out doing some sediment work I found an SAV bed which was not
peviously charted. It is on the east side of St. Martin's Creek just
north of the Rt. 90 bridge (directly accross from Ocean Pines). It is a
Ruppia bed with about 50% coverage. I did not have time to
determine it's size, but will get more details on it to you in early
Sept. The odd thing is that we had been over this site at least twice
early this summer with a rake and found nothing. Now, there's a pretty
good sized bed there. It's hard to believe we totally missed it
earlier, but just as hard to think that it grew this much this quickly.
This bed is interesting in that it is the only one I know of on the
landward side of the northern coastal bays. It's certainly the only
one in St. Martin's.
This spot is a little peculiar in that it abuts upon a small sandy
beach instead of the usual marsh and has much more bottom sand than
most of St. Martin's, which tends to be silty. Being near the mouth of
the creek, it does not have the anoxia problems that are present
SAV Aerial Update - August 17, 1998 - Flown August 1, 2, 4, 5
RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER - Lines 145-146 (these are new lines - flown Aug. 5).
Meso-haline Rappahannock River to above Tappahannock - no detectable SAV
LOWER POTOMAC RIVER - Lines 68, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 79, 80 (flown Aug. 5).
SAV very abundant again in St. Clements Bay with very patchy SAV in Breton
Bay in locations noted in 1997 (down from Protestant Pt.) as well as in a
few new locations in the lower portion, west shore.
SAV present around At Catherine's Isl and along shoreline of St Catherine's
Sound (see 1997 maps).
SAV abundant again around Cobb Isl (actually in Neale Sound between the
island and mainland - again see 1997 map)
** Have noted some new, sparse beds in the mainstem area just south of Swan Pt.!
SAV very abundant in Cuckhold and Picowaxen creeks and along the shoreline
between these two creeks as well as around the RT 301 Power Plant.
SAV abundant again along the west shore (VA side) both north and south of
the 301 bridge
SAV present in Wicomico River basically in same locations as in 1997 - beds
appear very dense.
**General observations - SAV in lower Potomac continues to do well and show
LITTLE CHOPTANK RIVER - Line 16 (flown Aug. 4)
SAV present in many of the coves and shoreline noted in 1997
* we have little ground truth from this river - I am assuming most of what
is here is widgeongrass - are there any citizens' or scientists' reports
from this river this year?
CHESTER RIVER AND EASTERN NECK ISLAND - Lines 33, 35, 36, 37 (flown Aug. 2)
SAV abundant in the Eastern Neck Narrows area and in the creeks around
Eastern Neck Island on the Chester R. Side, although SAV appears to be less
abundant in some of them (e.g. Hail Creek). SAV dense in Church Creek,
Grays Inn Creek (Herringtown Creek) and Langford Creek (mainly in many of
Also, Robin Cove, cove at Nichols Pt., and a couple of creeks up from
MAINSTEM BAY FROM EASTERN NECK ISLAND TO SASSAFRAS R. - Lines 33, 38 (flown Aug. 1)
SAV abundant and dense in Huntingfeld Creek, Rock Hall Harbor, the Haven,
Tavern Creek. Present but less abundant in Fairlee Creek, Churn Creek and
Still Pond Creek.
SASSAFRAS RIVER - line 39 (flown Aug. 1)
SAV present in Lloyd Creek and Turner Creek (note - emergent veg. has been
expanding and either masking presence of SAV or excluding it.
(NOTE: Stan Kollar identified Trapa in Lloyd's Creek last year and noted it
was expanding from the year before (1996). That bed appears to have
expanded in 1998)
NORTHEAST RIVER - line 42 (flown Aug. 1)
Lines 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59 (flown Aug. 2,4)
WEST RIVER AREA
SAV present at mouth of Parish Creek
SAV abundant along south shore of Glebe Bay, south of Limehouse Cove on
outside of breakwaters
SAV continues to be abundant and dense in many of the same areas mapped in
1997 (e.g., shoreline from south of Aisquith Creek to Sullivan Cove, Long
Pt., shoreline from Hopkins Creek to Brewer Creek (along Sherwood Forest)
SAV present in many of the same locations as in 1997, notably Magothy
Narrows, Cornfield Creek, Hunters Harbor, Grays Creek (both arms), Little
Isl., Dobbs Isl., Blackhole Creek, North and South Ferry Pt., cove just up
from North Ferry Pt., shoreline from Deep Creek to Ulmsteads Pt.,
SAV present in Ashlar Cove, plus a number of new locations, notably in
creeks and coves in south arm of Bodkin Creek)
PATAPSCO RIVER (partial) - line 53, 48 (flown Aug. 4)
No SAV but some dense stands in Shallow Creek and the adjacent cove, both
at the mouth of the Patapsco.
Lines 46, 47, 48, 49, 50 (flown Aug. 1)
Little SAV compared to last year. Areas classified as dense
last year had much less in 1998 (e.g., Redmon and Doves coves) (also
confirmed by Julie Bortz and Mike Weldon at Aberdeen Proving Grounds (APG)
who are doing extensive ground truthing up there).
ROMNEY AND LITTLE ROMNEY CREEKS
SAV abundant and dense in Little Romney Creek and abundant in creeks in the
downriver section of Romney Creek (also confirmed by Julie and Mike).
MAINSTEM BAY from Pooles Isl to Spesutie Isl
SAV present in the small
creeks that enter the bay along this region (e.g., Boone and Delph creeks).
Generally, SAV is present as a very small fringing bed along both banks
inside the creeks (which is not mapped) and at the mouth where it is more
patchy. The bed usually does not extend out into the bay along the marsh
Small patchy beds fringing sections of this river noted in last year's
survey and again mainly in and at the mouths of the small creeks (e.g.,
from Rickett to Days Pt., Watson and Swaderik creeks, and very abundant in
and around the marshes just up from the railroad bridge (map 7)).
DUNDEE, SALTPETER, AND SENECA CREEKS
SAV in Dundee Creek is AMAZING!! SAV is present in the entire creek from the
mouth at Carroll Isl upriver to the state park, except for a small area
near the park ramp. It is even present in the deeper, channel sections,
although it is sparse. (Julie and Mike have been doing transects at this
creek and their observations confirm this pattern!!). SAV present in and
around Carroll Island. SAV not as abundant in Saltpeter and Seneca creeks
as last year.
BUSH AND MIDDLE RIVERS
As in the past, almost no SAV noted in these two rivers.
If you have any questions about a particular area in the sections noted
above, please give me a call. Hope you all have been having a good summer!
Well, everyone heard about our experience at Queenstown Creek last week.
14 teachers from all over MD were trained as ground truthers along the
shores of Queenstown Creek and witnessed first hand how valuable SAV's
are to an ecosystem. The beds were absolutely beautiful and the
contrast in water clarity between the channel and the shore was
remarkable. Following the training we put our skills to work and as a
team ground truthed Hopkins Cove as per Bob's request.
Here are the results:
The tide was not as low as we would have liked so our bamboo rakes were
not able to reach the bottom in some parts of the cove. We need longer
1996 map 083 bed J3 we found fairly dense Ruppia (Rm) amd no eelgrass (Zm) 38 13 47 N, 76 02 76 W
We also searched between that bed and the banks of the cove. We did not
find any Zm but did find small patches of Rm close to shore (apprx 10-20
ft out). The patches were scattered all along the shore and were
thicker in the north west corner. A few teachers actually observed that
the patches of Rm were only located in front of the patches of Frag
growing on the bank. Not sure what this means??
We were not able to take a secci depth, however the water was very
This was probably due, in part, to the waterman who was pulling a crab
scrape through the bed as we arrived.
All in all the grasses were not very healthy and fairly sparse. Quite a
contrast from the beds in Queenstown Creek we saw the day before.
The teachers left the week long training empowered to restore SAV with
their students and will now have the means to do so, through CBF's and
DNR's "Bay Grasses in Classes" project. Thanks to all who helped out
during the week!! -- Jamie
I went with John Flood today to choose planting sites for Redhead
grass and sago pondweed for Monday. We chose two coves on Harness
Creek off Quiet Waters Park; one cove had an American Bittern in a
tree watching us. We will plant a few squares off his pier father up
the same creek, partly as a training session for the planters and a
photo op for the newspaper, and partly to see how they grow (small
patches of Rm there now). I decided to use smaller quadrats than on
Magothy: 25 plants in 1x1 m quadrat on 0.25 m centers. On Magothy we
put 25 plants in 2x2 m quadrat on 0.5 m centers. Smaller quadrat
should be easier to plant, easier to check later, and should fill in
faster. Used 4 foot bamboo stakes from Forestry Suppliers to mark
corners, about $38 for 500 stakes. Plants were grown in the lab using
micropropagation by Mike Norman at Anne Arundel Community College for
both plantings (as described in last Bay Journal).
Harness Creek was chosen because it had some of the best Secchi depths
on South River in Anne Arundel County volunteer monitoring data from
the late 1980's.
Large widgeongrass (Rm) bed in Selby Bay is dense and to the surface,
in flower with some seeds, looks very clean and green. No sign of any
redhead grass there, despite seeds John has scattered there. Fairly
high wave action; that point needed breakwater built by John to stop
erosion. We planted some Spartina alterniflora on the beach behind
the breakwater, some already doing well there. Two adult bald eagles
circled (have nested nearby).
No nettles yet!! Surface salinity is only 5, low for this time of year
on South River. Secchi in Harness creek was 0.7 m, not great but
should be adequate for the fairly shallow plantings (deeper ones are
about 0.7 m at low tide).
On Monday, Aug. 3, we were collecting eelgrass plants from the large
seagrass bed in the lower end of Chincoteague Bay just south of Coards
Marshes (see map 175 - Chincoteague East, VA). Several very notable items:
SCALLOPS! - in a 300 x 300 meter area we came across 15 bay scallops! I
have been out in Chincoteague Bay since 1970 and have never seen a single
live scallop. Remember the link between eelgrass and the bay scallop -
both the historical aspect prior to the 1933 wasting disease phenomenon in
the coastal bays and their absence in these bays since 1933, and their
current abundance in areas like North Carolina and Long Island where
eelgrass has been abundant for many years. Scallops have been found
occasionally in Chincoteague Bay over the last few years but the number we
found in such a small area was very surprising. VIMS scientists had
planted tens of thousands of juveniles in these grassbeds a few years ago
and it is possible these are some of the progeny. An interesting question
is whether the level of seagrass in Chincoteague is approaching a point
that scallop populations could be maintained naturally.
WATER CLARITY - Over the last month whenever we have been sampling in
this bed, the water clarity has been literally unbelievable! Despite wind
blowing 15-20 mph (NNE) on Monday, we had 6-10 feet of lateral visibility
inside the large bed! We expected it to be very turbid but were pleasantly
surprised to find visibility reminiscent of the Florida Keys! What a
day!!!!!!! Wish you all could have been out here with us!!!! An
interesting point to ponder is whether the beds in this area have gotten so
big (this bed is second only in size to the large bed found between Tangier
and Smith Islands) that seagrass is having a major influence on the how
this whole system functions??
NEW BEDS - the seagrass beds continue to spread both on the west and
east side of Chincoteague Bay with new beds showing. Grass has
appeared on the aerial photos (and confirmed by Harry Womack of
Salisbury State U.) up along the south shore of Tizzard Island (see map 172 -
Boxiron, western side just above Mills Island). New grass beds,
identified in Assateague Bay (see map 175
-Chincoteague East) by NPS in 1996, are evident in the photos this
year. We checked those areas Monday and it is indeed impressive to see
the new beds, especially those along the western shore (the beds at
Mills and Assacorkin islands noted last year are still present this
year and appear to be spreading).
All these developments, I believe, bode well for this region, and provide
more reasons to create the necessary protection for this valuable habitat.
Virginia has created an SAV sanctuary and I hope Maryland will be following
suit. Given all that has been said and done about the SAV in Chincoteague,
its recovery, and its problems, I continue to remain hopeful that Maryland
will provide immediate protection of SAV in the Maryland section. There
has been much talk about importance of SAV and MD DNR SAV transplant
workshops have been initiated to help SAV recover to its former potential.
We have been seeing much progress in lower Chincoteague and now with those
scallops we collected, the place has so much potential!!!!! This
information above should help prompt MD to be even more proactive about
protecting recovering SAV habitats.
Today Nancy and I made a quick trip to the nontidal Potomac between
Little Falls and Point of Rocks. You may remember we had huge beds of
SAV in this reach before the high water year of 1996 and virtually no
SAV in 1997. We are encouraged by the return of Heteranthera dubia,
Potamogeton crispus, Potamogeton pectinatus, and Vallisneria americana
to the Algonkian Park area and by the presence of many small well-rooted
Heteranthera plants at Pt of Rocks. Both the P. pectinatus and the
Heteranthera were flowering. Fishermen reported seeing plant fragments
washing by and all the plants we saw had new roots coming from most of
the nodes. However, there was no sign of Hydrilla anywhere, even in
Goose Creek, a small tributary that consistently had Hydrilla before
1996. The water everywhere was relatively low and very clear. If this
year continues to be good and next year is also good, we may see a
resurgence of the big Heteranthera bed off National airport in 1999.
A really gorgeous day to be out, even if only for a few hours.
I just got back from this with a CBF-led group (by Jamie Baxter and
Jessica Berman) of teachers, all of whom plan to participate in "Bay
Grasses in Classes." Great group, highly motivated.
We found very dense beds in all the sites mapped in 1997 (map 33),
with dense Elodea (Ec) farther up the creek and more Redhead (Ppf)
towards the mouth, both almost to surface. What was particularly
striking was the clear water in the beds--much too clear for a Secchi
depth, could see every detail to the bottom. The channel was much
murkier, Secchi 0.7-0.8 m, on a falling tide. You could see the edge
of the bed from a distance, both from the calmer water and the murkier
water outside. The teachers were very impressed. We also found
milfoil (Ms), Widgeongrass (Rm), and Sago pondweed (Ppc), latter two
not fully flowered yet and still hard to tell apart.
No wild celery found--this might be a good planting site. Could be
some farther up the north branch.
Salinity was 4-5 ppt on new refractometer I got from Forestry
Suppliers ($150, works well) but 6-8 at the same sites with my old
refractometer. I guess even refractometers need to be calibrated once
in a while! There was ONE sea nettle, almost dead, near the mouth of
In mid-June, I took a ride with NRP in one of their helo's. Water clarity
was horrible! (we had a weekend of severe thunderstorms, and I
couldn't re-schedule). I was hoping to get "smoking gun" picture for the
taskforce, but conditions didn't allow it. I did however get some nice
shots of the bed way inside of Cook's Cove, and the surrounding
unvegetated bottom at 1800-2000 feet altitude. From the shots I had, I
could only see a couple of scars in the bed, but the surrounding open
bottom was well-and-truly scarred. I also notice a flock of swans in that
vicinity (50-100 birds). We did manage to catch 3 clammers on an oyster
bar, which really made the flight exciting. I'll tell you about it sometime.
I've been out to Eastern Bay several times (both for work and fun), and
just an impression I can't prove is that swan are grazing very heavily
around Parson's Island (my guess is 100 to 200 birds). There also
seems to be less Ruppia and more Sago in this area than last year. I
concur with your impression that the beds are smaller this year overall.
Very few of the Sago beds were going to seed two weeks ago, while
the Ruppia was in flower and seeding out.
In Marshy Creek, my impression is that there is less Ruppia and Milfoil
and more Redhead, at least on the southern shore around the wildfowl
preserve. This bed seems more dense to me than last year, though I
didn't get out there until late August last year. The redhead was
definitely seeding out.
SAV Aerial Update - August 4, 1998 - Flown July 21Flight Lines 17-19, 22-32
NORTH SIDE - LITTLE CHOPTANK RIVER
SAV abundant in Brooks, Hudson, Back, Phillips and Beckwith creeks and
Little Choptank River
SAV abundant in Trippe and Brannock bays, although some areas look less
dense than in 1997
Cooks Point Cove - SAV present but the outer edges have visible scarring
that I think is likely the result of hydraulic dredging. SAV in the cove
immediately adjacent to from Cooks Pt is certainly much more sparse this
year and it appears there is scarring there also. This entire cove had
dense SAV two years ago. Last year, a part of the dense bed became quite
patchy (clamming!) and this year there is much less SAV. (NOTE -
observations from one resident living here indicated significant clamming
activity over the last two years in this area).
Todds Point to Chapel Creek:
-Small amount of SAV in the cove above Chapel Creek
-SAV in Chapel Creek much less than last year esp. in the areas furthest
offshore. And there is some very distinct scarring visible in the bottom
sediments of these offshore, unvegetated areas!
Harris Creek - SAV still abundant in many locations as in past years -
however, there are some changes in dense beds at the mouth of this creek
where the beds are less dense, or are gone from the offshore areas. SAV in
some upper sections are also absent or less dense. Some scarring appears
around the areas at the mouth.
Broad Creek - Definitely much less at the mouth along both shores and in
some upper sections but SAV still remains throughout the creek, some beds
remain quite dense.
Tred Avon - Much the same for this creek as in Harris and Broad creeks.
Miles River - Many of the beds are either absent or very reduced in density
(both shores). Dense beds from Tilghman Pt coming into the Miles along the
south shore are very sparse (they were very dense in 1997).
Kent Island side - Beds gone or much reduced in density. Beds around the
Romancoke area are very patchy. Some dense beds in Warehouse Creek. Beds
present but less dense around Cox Neck and Crab Alley Bay, although some
areas remain dense.
Parsons Isl. - Beds are present around the island but are reduced in size
although inshore areas are dense.
Wye R. - Very little here
Piney Neck - Very dense beds from Piney Neck Point into Cabin Creek
Marshy Creek - Dense beds along both shores although a few areas appear
sparser than last year.
CHESTER RIVER (mouth only along southern shore)
small coves around Kent narrows have dense stands; dense, fringing beds in
Winchester Creek; patchy beds from Winchester to Queenstown Creek; dense,
fringing beds in Queenstown Creek; beds become sparse moving out of
Queenstown Creek up the Chester R. (Patterns are similar to 1997)
Flight Lines 142, 143, 144, 148, 151, 155
*** New Flightlines flown for the first time over the Chickahominy, upper
Pamunkey and upper Mattaponi rivers and the upper Rappahannock River in VA
on July 22. Some very small fringing SAV beds noted, but there were a
couple of areas in the Chickahominy River that had some larger beds in the
UPDATE on Patuxent River - Bob Stankelis left a message for me commenting
that the P. pectinatus bed reported last year near Solomans Island was
extremely patchy this year which explains why it doesn't appear on the '98
If anyone would like more detailed info on any of the areas noted above,
give me a call, and again, anyone getting out to these areas, please let us
know what you find.
I visted Shallow creek last Friday with George Ruddy from this office,
Mark Mendelsohn and Chris Spaur from COE, and Lee Karrh and Tom Parham
from DNR. Shallow Creek is on the north side of the mouth of the
Patapsco River near Baltimore, quad 19 (Sparrows Point).
We found lots of milfoil with VERY heavy filamentous algae covering,
much worse than what I saw there in mid-June with national Aquarium
staff. The water was fairly murky (Secchi 0.6-0.7 m where it was deep
enough to measure) and very shallow. Salinity 4 ppt. We went to look
for possible mitigation (planting) sites for SAV to replace SAV
destroyed by planned dredging of a very shallow channel (it was about 2
feet deep at low tide).
We found some possible sites just inside a former RR bed near the
mouth of the creek that had scattered milfoil and fairly firm
sediments. Then we visted a cove outside the RR bed, just inside
North Point and Fort Howard State Park, which had mapped SAV in 96 and
97 (Bed B2 in 96, A2 in 97) but I had never visited. As we expected
most of it was milfoil covered with filamentous algae, but near the
mouth there was a small patch that I saw on the way in but didn't
check. Tom Parham checked it on the way out and it was wild celery;
we all came over and admired it. We were already discussing planting
wild celery in this cove and this was a very encouraging sign. The
bed was about 10 feet across, no sign of flowers, some epiphytes but
much less algae than the milfoil.
No SAV noted until the Lower Marlboro Section. The SAV bed consisting of
P. pectinatus noted just up from Soloman's Island by Bob Stankelis of CBL
last year appears to be absent or at the best very reduced in abundance at
the time these photos were taken this year. I haven't talked to Bob yet
and will try to get some info as to what they have found in the field.
Otherwise, many of the beds above Lower Marlboro going to Jug Bay appear
similar to previous years patterns and not much major change either which
continues to be interesting, and obviously good news for the upper
Patuxent! SAV beds first appear at the mouth of Cocktown Creek and across
from this creek down from Milltown Landing at the mouth of another creek.
The creeks themselves have SAV as dense, but very small fringing zones
along both creek banks (probably no more than 1-2 meters wide). This is
the same pattern we have noted in past years - SAV in fringing beds in
these small creeks with small patchy to dense beds right at the mouths and
extending a short distance from the mouth in the mainstem section of the
Lines 114, 115, 116 - Chincoteague Bay
The photos taken on this third mission are of excellent quality and should
provide the necessary signatures to adequately delineate SAV coverage and
scar damage. The patterns described in my last update regarding the 'scar'
issues remain the same and will be addressed in August. SAV in the Isle of
Wight and Assawoman Bays appears less abundant from previous years and very
heavily scarred. I understand from Mike Naylor at MD DNR that eelgrass is
more abundant than last year and that the widgeon grass populations are much
reduced from last year.
The Little Choptank and Choptank rivers, and Eastern Bay were also flown
last week and I should be receiving those photos on Monday, July 27.
SAV Aerial Update - July 21, 1998 - Flown July 11 and 12
Flight Lines 2, 3, 4, 7-15 - Manokin, Nanticoke, Wicomico, and Honga
rivers, Monie Bay, Fishing Bay, Barren Island, Tar Bay.
Only small patchy beds at mouth of Manokin R. No SAV in areas covered by
flightlines over Nanticoke and Wicomico rivers, and Monie and Fishing Bays
(again similar to past years' data). Small SAV bed in Hopkins Cove which
is just above Bishops Head (CBF facility there - has anyone ever observed
SAV in Honga River appears to be less abundant esp. In Duck Pt Cove.
Densest concentrations are in the Charles Creek area around Wrotten Island
and north to Wallace Creek. Very little SAV along the west shore of the
Honga. No SAV around Barren Island or Tar Bay (what a bummer!).
Line 14 and 15 also covers Slaughter Creek. Some SAV is present at the
south end of this creek
Flight Lines 69 (St. Mary's River) - small but dense beds at mouth of St
Inigoes Creek and at Chancellor and Windmill Pt. as well just south of the
mouth of Carthagena Creek. (The bed at St Inigoes has been quite stable for
years and is where the Alliance planted some eelgrass several years ago -
the last I heard is that the eelgrass was still present)
Flight Lines 77, 78 south shore Potomac River (Nomini Bay, Lower Machodoc
River) - beds mapped in 1997 in these areas are still present.
Line 114, 115, 116 - Coastal Bays. Although these lines were flown, they
will be redone because of some water damage to some of the negatives during
development. Despite this, the pictures show abundant grass in many of the
same areas reported in earlier surveys. Some new beds have been noted (and
ground truthed by Salisbury State people) around Tizzard Isl., along the
western Shore (good news for the continued expansion of SAV to new areas).
On the dredge scar issue:
Virginia - circular scars are visible again in the photography with some
new scars noted. However, the number of new scars is much less than what
we saw from 1996 to 1997. On groundtruthing these scars we have identified
and marked (using GPS) two scars from each of the years where scarring was
noted and are checking them now for SAV regrowth. There appears to be
little regrowth in the scars that we checked last week (two 1996, one 1997
and one 1998 scar). We will have the remainder of the data by the end of
the week (two 1995, one 1997, and one 1998).
Maryland - the amount of area scarred by hydraulic dredging appears to have
clearly increased throughout the coastal bays of Maryland but it will take
a more detailed examination of the 1997 and 1998 photography to come up
with specific numbers. Regarding regrowth in the scarred areas, we have
noted at least one major scar on the 1998 photography in an area surrounded
by dense SAV that was also present on the 1997 photography. It appears
that there has been little regrowth in that scar. Some of the heavily
scarred areas noted in 1998 are the same as 1997 and we are not sure if
they may have been dredged again or if the patterns are due to lack of
regrowth (or both). This issue will be explored later once the photos are
examined in more detail.
I understand that staff from both NPS and MD DNR are examining scarred
areas and perhaps we can get some input from their observations.
PS - ground truth updates are really appreciated!! If you are up in the
Honga Rier area, please check thee beds carefully for possible presence of
Just for what it's worth, we were down on the Chincoteague Bay Saturday.
It was a perfect day, without a ripple on the water. 3 observations which
may be germane.
The SAV in Sinnepuxent Bay does not go up nearly as far as the 1996
maps show it. I'm not sure whether the overwash did it in or what, but it
ends well south of the O.C. Airport
There are Zostera beds on both sides of Tizzard island. To the mainland
side there is less and it is concentrated toward the South tip. It is on
both coves on the Ocean side. There is also a small bed on the Ocean side
of Assacorkin Island. From all appearances these beds existed where the
wind had chopped up the water the least.
The major eelgrass beds down in the Chincoteague (along the MD-VA
border) are extremely extensive and in fantasitc shape. I could ride
along on the bow and see everything on the bottom (I think I coukld have
read the morning paper it was so clear. In fact, they seem to stretch
further to the West than the last map shows.
SAV Aerial Update - July 14, 1998 - Flown June 18, July 1 and 2
Flight Lines 88 through 101, 147, 157a, 161, which includes all areas along
the western shore of the lower bay from the lower James River to the
Rappahannock River (Note - we have received funds from VA's CRM Program to
fly the remainder of the James, York, and Rappahannock rivers that have not
been done in previous years - thus if you look at previous years' reports
you will not see lines 147, 157a, and 161 on the flightline map as these
are new lines for 1998)
James River - SAV only in section along north shore from Monitor Merrimac
bridge tunnel to the Hampton Roads bridge tunnel - very patchy but still
present (transplant sites noted in our web page in this river still doing
Lower York River, Mobjack Bay, Poquoson area - the hotbed of SAV in the
lower Bay - still in good shape. However, beds off Guinea Marshes at mouth
of York River are much more patchy this year than last.
Piankatank River and adjacent Milford Haven - nothing in Piankatank except
at the mouth off the north tip of Gwynns Isl. And in a few locations in
Milford Haven near the 'Hole in the Wall' which is the entrance at the
southern end of Gwynns Island. Some changes have occurred at this later
location that may be related to the very dynamic nature of the large sand
bar at this entrance. No plants remaining at any sites planted here in
Rappahannock River - this river hasn't had much SAV in past few years but
what was present appears to be less so this year. Only 2 sites have plants
remaining in 1996 transplant sites.
Flight Lines 139, 140, 141 - southern end of the Delmarva Peninsula
primarily Fisherman's Island - SAV still present in the few locations
identified in the last two years. Transplants placed at several locations
in 1996 still doing well, as well as transplants placed at 3 of 4 sites in
Flight Lines 114, 115, 116 were attempted on July 3 but clouds at lower
altitudes prevented the acquisition of these lines. These lines were first
flown on June 18 but most of the northern sections of these lines were
rejected because oh high turbidity levels masking the SAV signature. The
southern end of the lines in the Virginia portion did show the large bed
that had the high density of clam dredge scars noted in 1997. These scars
were still visible in the 1998 photography. NOTE: Air Photographics flew
some lower level shots of the scarred area in MD waters for Mike Naylor on
July 3 (clouds were not a problem for the lower level shots) and I
understand that the photos provided some rather spectacular shots of the
SAV growth is moving into high gear in the fresh and
Oligohaline Potomac. While taking light attenuation measurments at
sites near Dyke Marsh, Swan Creek, Marshall Hall, Fort Belvoir,
Quantico, and Wades Bay, we have made note of how far out, deep, and
tall the plants are. Hydrilla and val is near or at the
surface in areas less than a meter and at Quantico and Wades Bay were
found growing in 1.5 to 2 meters of water, relativly epiphyte free.
N. guadalupensis has a 1% cover at Quantico, and Chara has a 10%
cover below Dyke Marsh. It looks like the bay at Chapawamsic Is. will
fill in completely this year. Swan Creek is the only area we have been
recently that the cover does not look like it will be as good as last
In the mesohline as of 6/18 the Zann. back in the creeks
had begun to raft out. In the Yeocomico however we noted that the
Zann inside Lynch Pt. was still there and short, and there was a
new larger bed of Zann in the middle of the N side of the
Yeocomico. The plants there were medium sized and did not look like
they were ready to raft yet. Our fall 97 Zostera transplants
are still doing OK. The plants are only medium sized though, and we
lost one site since our last check in April. All of our previous
transplants have not come back including Ruppia and P. perf. The
Zostera and Ruppia at our doner site, Dameron Marsh, was
tall, robust, and relativly epiphyte free.
US Geological Survey
430 National Center
Reston, VA 22092
I surveyed the Magothy from Blackhole Creek up to the head of tide on
6/17/98 with Bud Jenkins, a volunteer SAV Hunter who has done surveys
for many years. Salinity continues low (surface values 3 ppt at sites
that were about the same in June 96, another high flow year, but were
about 5 ppt at this time last year, a low flow year) and Secchi depths
continued low (0.6 m upriver and 0.8 m farther down), again more like
96 than 97.
We found most SAV species where we expected them based on past surveys
with some exceptions:
Horned pondweed (Zp) had died back almost completely although we saw
few rafts of dead plants. We found only small shoots 1-2" high, which
we only found using very fine-toothed rakes (bamboo rake or a 'crab
net' with wire basket). We tried to get out sooner but the weather and
our schedules interfered. There was more Zp at the same sites on July
9 last year. Thus it appears that June 15 may be too late for Zp
surveys for dredging, when absence of plants may mean it's OK to
dredge, at least for this year in the upper Magothy. MES has used May
only as their safe dates for Zp and that may be the safest. However
Court Stevenson surveyed Grays Creek on the lower Magothy the next day
(6/19) and Zp was still present there, so it's hard to generalize.
The Wild celery (Va) bed that we found at S. Ferry Pt last year
looked much larger this year. We're not sure if it grew, or was mostly
hidden by tall Zp last year. Steve Ailstock mapped Va beds there in
the late 80's and this may have persisted since then. We can use this
as a seed source for Va to grow and plant elsewhere in the Magothy; it
is growing right opposite DNR station WT6.1 which is mesohaline, about
8 ppt mean and range 0-14 ppt surface salinity. Va also grows in
Cornfield creek where salinity is probably higher. Paul Spadaro who
lives on cattail Creek grew some Va in a Taylor float (designed for
oysters) using seeds he got from Mike Naylor, and it appeared to be
growing well, no seeds yet.
We found four freshwater species at the river's head of tide that
had not been reported in the tidal Magothy, of which three were
identified by Mike Naylor at MD DNR (see list below, he'll work on the
fourth). Of these only P. epihydrus (Pe) was listed in the species in
the 96 VIMS report.
Good news at the head of tide--no sign of the Elodea densa that a
citizen put in the nontidal Magothy last year. I tried to remove it
the next day but I'm sure I didn't get it all.
Probable losses of small patches--the tiny patch of Ppf found in
Blackhole Creek last year was not found this year. The Rm in Swan Cove
just upriver from N ferry Pt that was fairly extensive near shore last
year was very sparse this year (this is the farthest upriver Rm or any
other mesohaline species has been found).
SAV Species list, Upper Magothy 6/17/98
(all found at head of tide of Magothy near Catherine Ave., Callitriche
was also found at head of tide in Old Man Creek)
*Callitriche sp. (Water-starwort), most common at that site
*Sparganium sp. (burreed)
*Potamogeton epihydrus (Pe, leafy or ribbonleaf pondweed)
*unidentified large-leafed species that resembles Ludwigia (false
*NEW SPECIES for tidal Magothy
Zannichellia palustris (Zp, horned pondweed), almost gone, what's
left all short (1-2" tall), widespread but scarce, much less than we
found on 7/9/97
Potamogeton pectinatus (Ppc, sago pondweed), low thin form (Old Man
Creek and Blackhole Creek)
Vallisneria americana (Va, Wild celery), S. Ferry Pt (large bed)
P. perfoliatus (Ppf, redhead grass). S. Ferry Pt.
Myriophyllum spicatum (Ms, Eurasian watermilfoil), Smuggler's
Ruppia maritima (Rm, Widgeongrass), low form, Swan Cove (above N.
Ferry Pt) and S Ferry Pt (not found upriver of those sites)
US Fish & Wildlife Service
SAV Ground truthing, Clements Creek Severn R. (Sparrows Point quad 019)
I assisted Kim Morris-Zarneke and other National Aquarium in Baltimore
(NAIB) staff in ground truthing this creek by canoe at North Point
State Park on 6/13/98. We found:
The extensive bed in mid-creek seems to be doing well (B3 in draft
1997 map, and E2/D4 in 1996 report). As before it is mostly Milfoil
(Ms) to the surface at high tide with some Elodea (Ec); we also found
some Horned pondweed (Zp) that we missed before because we went later
in the season. The Ec and Zp are much shorter and more sparse than
the Ms, moderate sediment on the Ms. Secchi depth 0.6 m and salinity
2 ppt by refractometer near this bed.
We launched from a point near the 'F3' label in the 96 report,
where no bed was mapped in 97. We found very sparse Ms and Zp in this
area with murky water. According to the ranger, local waterman James
Iman helped students plant Redhead grass (Ppf) at this site in 1997,
but we could not find any. We had 5 canoes rake the area for 15
minutes or more and found NO Ppf anywhere in this cove or in the
We proceeded from the large bed around the point just above the
'D4' label in the 1996. On this point off a bulkhead there was heavy
filamentous algae mixed with Ms, Ec, and some Chara (muskgrass or C),
an SAV-like alga that had not been found in Shallow Creek before. We
proceeded up the next cove to its head where small bed C4 was mapped
in 1996 and no bed was mapped in 1997 (there is a small marsh then a
road at the head of the cove). We found very sparse Ms and Zp there.
We did not have time to check the cove just inside the mouth of the
creek (B2 1996, A2 1997). NAIB will have another canoe trip there on
August 15 for their members and I hope we can check this bed then.
Mike Naylor was very generous of his time (and personal boat) to take Eva
Koch and me out to Eastern Bay last week to examine the eelgrass bed first
reported by Dan Stotts at the mouth of the Miles River. Both Eva and I
were duly impressed, and of course very excited, about not only the
presence of eelgrass here but the size of one of the patches we observed.
Although it was quite windy which made for turbid conditions, we measured
one dense patch (100%) coverage at 6x14 meters!! Very Impressive. And we
were able to note reproductive shoots, although they were almost hard to
see amongst the very tall leaves of the vegetative eelgrass. My guess is
that this patch may have been formed some time in the early 1990's
(possibly 1992/3) when the eelgrass populations in the southern portion of
the Bay had reached their maximum coverage. This, coupled to perhaps an
exceptional year in the production of a seed crop, and it's subsequent
dispersal via rafting reproductive shoots in the late spring under ideal
meterological conditions - good winds from the south), could possibly
account for the establishment of the plants in this region. The size of
patches we have noted in other remote areas (Fisherman's Island, James
River, southern shore of York River) suggest that some unique set of events
led to the re-establishment of these populations into areas that had seen
little recolonization since the early 1970's!! If this were the case, that
could argue,perhaps, for the idea that bigger and denser eelgrass beds may
be best if bed formation depends on a coupling of good biology (=lots of
seeds) and good winds!
Also, the size of the patch indicates that it has been able to withstand
some severe freshets that have passed through the Bay over the last several
It may also argue that there could be other patches of eelgrass beween
Eastern Bay and Smith Island, which is the northern limit of the dense
eelgrass beds today. The fact that Dan Stoots literaly 'fell' on these
patches argues again that ground truthing the beds in the bay is VERY
IMPORTANT. And unfortunately, we have the least ground coverage from this
section of the Bay.
So, if any of you are going to be out there, keep an eye out for small to
medium size patches - it would be neat to find out just how much is out
I surveyed Clements Creek, Severn River on 5/28 and 5/31; Clements
is downriver from Brewer Creek and upriver from Saltworks Creek on
the south shore, near the southern limit of mapped Severn SAV in
the 97 survey. Roughly across from Chase Creek on the north shore.
I found 5 species with fairly extensive redhead (Ppf) working its
way up from the mouth (in flower), plus very small clumps of
widgeongrass (Rm) & and Sago pondweed (Ppc) (neither in flower) and
milfoil (Ms), and extensive horned pondweed (Zp) of course. Rm &
Zp reported there in 1995; no Ms reported in any recent Severn
We caught several species of small fish including a pipefish in one
of the Zp beds using a seine on 5/31. There was also a live
horseshoe crab near the mouth of the creek and lots of comb jellies
(salinity about 4 ppt).
Methods note: The bright green of new Ppf shoots really stands out
at this time of year since the Zp has already started to look gray
or brown. (The visual method wouldn't work as well where the Zp was
taller, however, which is why the "window" for ground truthing
species other than Zp starts on July 15.) At low tide in bright
sun we could move slowly over the beds and see scattered shoots of
Ppf among the Zp. This seems to be the optimum time to do surveys
(low tide, bright sun) with clear water if you can get it!
SAV Aerial Update - May 25, 1998 - Flown May 15, 16, 18
Eastern Shore - Lines 1, 1A, 5, 6, 104-113, 137:
South of Cape Charles to Pocomoke Sound - abundant SAV at the mouths of many of the creeks (again similar to what has been reported in past surveys). Some beds appear more dense. Several areas of concern where I have noted less SAV than last year: SAV in deep area of the Vaucluse Shores' bed, where many of us have worked in the past, is absent or very sparse. Some beds in and around Finney and Parker Islands at the mouth of Onancock Creek are much reduced from last year but there is still substantial SAV beds surrounding these islands. Lastly, the large, but patchy, bed in the middle of Pocomoke Sound just east of Halfmoon and Webb Islands is reduced in size and density.
Great Fox Island - some very dense beds but there appears to be considerably less in several shoal areas esp. In the area right at the MD-VA section of the Fox Islands and at the southern end of the beds in the VA section!! There is bed scarring (hydraulic clamming?) in an area of SAV at the mouth of Broad Creek heading towards the Fox Islands. These beds were dense in 1997 and now are very sparse in 1998. Characteristic scars noted in areas in 1997 are visible. The photos show what appear to be hydraulic clammers just east of the Islands and a dense plume of sediment moving south (these plumes were present in last years photos also from boats in the same general area)
Little Annemessex River - SAV present near Crisfield (similar to last year). The SAV bed at the mouth of the river on the south side that showed scarring last year appears to more heavily scarred in this year's photos and the large area in the center is only very patchy where it was very dense two year's ago.
Big Annemessex River - SAV sparse, present primarily at mouth and in same areas as reported in the past - does appear to be some negative changes in some beds from 1997;
Tangier to Smith Island - SAV generally abundant in many of the same locations. However, as noted in last year's effort, many of the very dense beds along the north east section of Smith are much reduced in density or absent (e.g. Back Cove and Terrapin Sand Cove). There are a few areas where SAV was present this year where it now appears to be absent or very sparse, esp. The large shallow water area near Ewell (the Big Thoroughfare), and along the large shoal flat between Tangier and Smith. Some of these changes may be due to the variable nature of widgeongrass which dominates these two places. IF ANY OF YOU GET AN OPPORTUNITY TO GET TO THIS REGION, PLEASE CHECK IT OUT!
South Marsh Island - only bed in Pry Cove (similar to last year but certainly much less than in many previous years around this island!);
Bloodsworth Island - only SAV located in Okahanikan Cove (similar to last year but certainly much less than in many previous years around this island!)
Holland and Spring Islands (near South Marsh and Bloodsworth Isls) - no SAV (similar to 1997 but SAV was noted in many previous years).
Western Shore: Lines 82-86, 88, 102,103, 117, 138
1. Area from Windmill Pt at the mouth of the Rappahannock River to Smith Pt. at the mouth of the Potomac River - SAV present in Fleets Bay to Dameron Marsh (it is quite dense along the southern shore), and generally in areas where it was present in 1997. I am always intrigued by one small bed in Fleets Bay that has persisted despite changes in other areas. What makes it interesting is it occurs at a depth of 2 m at MLW! One of the deeper beds along the western shore! Species observed in this bed is eelgrass.
2. south shore of the lower Rappahannock River - no SAV;
3. Broad Bay - SAV's present in narrow fringe in generally the same areas as last year - also was site of one of our transplant beds which did not survive, but we have found seedlings from last year's seed crop earlier this year. We do not expect these to survive as the area we planted appears to be too shallow to support eelgrass (may get too hot);
4. Little Creek - SAV patchy near mouth in bed that was much denser in previous years. Further up, SAV expanding in same general area of one of our transplant sites, which is also doing very well through this spring.
5. Lynnhaven River - no SAV but has a lot of drift algae.
If anyone has can get to an area listed above and would like a more accurate location, give me or my staff a call for more detailed maps.
We visited our transplant sites on the Potomac this week and found
successes. All but one of the six fall transplants on the Yeocomico and
at Ragged Pt. survived. The plants look healthy with low epiphyte
coverage and are roughly 1 to 1.5ft tall. As for the spring Zostera, P.
perf., and Ruppia we didn't see any survivors. The Z. palustris in the
Yeocomico looks good but has not yet reached the surface. The Z.
palustris bed at our YO-8 site is much denser and appears to have grown
Our donor bed at Dameron Marsh (near the Great Wicomico River on the
Va. side of the bay) is doing well. The Zostera is up to 2ft tall and
relatively epiphyte free. The Ruppia, which is mixed with the Zostera,
is still short but looking good. The secchi was ~1.5m
While visiting some other sites in the fresh and oligohaline Potomac we
saw that the m. spicatum bed at Wades Bay was already reaching the
surface in about 1m of water. We also noted a rather good secchi for
Hatton Pt. (HP xfb2470) at 1.3m
Dan Stotts called me and offered me the opportunity to accompany him
on a visit to the location in Eastern Bay where he found Zostera
(eelgrass) last year. I went along yesterday morning and sure enough,
there was quite a lot of Zostera growing there again. The patches
ranged in size from a meter to about 6 meters square, and covered an
area probably about the size of a football field or perhaps two. It was
interspersed with Ruppia, which was just barely emerged and perhaps
6-8 inches tall.
The Zostera appeared very dense and healthy, and ranged in height
from 15 to 30 inches (approximately). Several of the larger, taller
patches were flowering. It appeared that many of the larger patches
were being grazed from above, as the leaves were clipped off at a fairly
uniform depth as if someone had taken hedge clippers to them. This is
characteristic of waterfowl feeding, and perhaps this damage was from
the many mute swans we saw. The Zostera in this area is protected
from clammers and boaters by virtue of the rocky shallows in which they
are growing. Hopefully they will continue to spread, as there is quite a
large flat just begging to be covered.
FYI P. perfoliatus is up and as much as 12" tall already. M. spicatum
plants are just barely emerged, and P. pectinatus plants up to 30" were
fairly widespread, including some with exceedingly wide leaves (up to 3
mm), the likes of which I have never seen before. The water quality
was great despite a mild algae bloom, I suspect the Secchi depth would
have been over 5 feet.