Monitoring > Field Observations > 1998
1998 Field Observations and a First Look at the Aerial Photography
  • 10/27/98 Dan Stotts, USGS - SAV in Eastern Bay
  • 10/02/98 Bob Orth, VIMS - SAV Aerial Update (Potomac River)
  • 09/21/98 Bob Orth, VIMS - SAV Aerial Update (Patapsco, Back, Middle, Elk, Bohemia, Northeast, Susquehanna rivers, Susquehanna Flats, Spesutie Narrows, Dundee Creek, and Gunpowder River)
  • 09/13/98 Bob Orth, VIMS - SAV Aerial Update (James, Rappahannock, and Potomac Rivers)
  • 09/13/98 Harry Womack, Salisbury State University - Coastal Bays Update
  • 09/08/98 Bob Orth, VIMS - SAV Aerial Update (York, James, and Potomac Rivers)
  • 08/28/98 Justin Reel, USGS - Potomac Update
  • 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, )
  • 08/12/98 Jamie Baxter - Hopkin's Cover SAV report
  • 08/08/98 Peter Bergstrom, USFWS - South River SAV report
  • 08/05/98 Bob Orth, VIMS - Scallops, Chincoteague, Protection
  • 08/05/98 Virginia Carter, USGS - SAV in Potomac above Little Falls
  • 08/05/98 Peter Bergstrom, USFWS - Queenstown Creek, Chester River SAV update
  • 08/04/98 Lee Karrh, MD DNR - Eastern Bay, Marshy Creek
  • 08/04/98 Bob Orth, VIMS - SAV Aerial Update (Little Choptank River, Choptank River, Eastern Bay, and Chester River)
  • 07/29/98 Peter Bergstrom, USFWS - Wild Celery in Shallow Creek!
  • 07/27/98 Bob Orth, VIMS - SAV Aerial Update (Patuxent River and Chincoteague Bay)
  • 07/21/98 Bob Orth, VIMS - SAV Aerial Update (Manokin, Nanticoke, Wicomico, Honga, St. Mary's, and Potomac rivers, Monie Bay, Fishing Bay, Barren Island, Tar Bay, and Coastal Bays)
  • 07/20/98 Harry Womack, Salisbury State University - Coastal Bays Update
  • 07/14/98 Bob Orth, VIMS - SAV Aerial Update (James River, Lower York River, Mobjack Bay, Poquoson area, Piankatank River, Milford Haven, Rappahannock River, and Fisherman's Island)
  • 07/07/98 Henry Ruhl, USGS - Potomac Update
  • 06/17/98 Peter Bergstrom, USFWS - SAV Ground truthing, Magothy River
  • 06/13/98 Peter Bergstrom, USFWS - SAV Ground truthing, Shallow Creek, Patapsco River
  • 06/01/98 Bob Orth, VIMS - Eelgrass in Eastern Bay
  • 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)
  • 04/23/98 Henry Ruhl, USGS - Potomac Update
  • 04/22/98 Mike Naylor, MD DNR - Eelgrass in Eastern Bay!

10/02/98 10/27/98 Dan Stotts, USGS

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:

  1. 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 resurge.

  2. 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.

  3. Redhead and sago which dominated nearshore in marshy creek at this time last year is now almost totally dominated by milfoil.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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 line.

  7. The bulkhead/riprap structure maintaining the existence of Bodkin Is. has still not been stabilized!!!!! La Nina may finish it!!!!!!

  8. 100s of mute swans at various locations around the bay.

  9. 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.

  10. 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 robust!) root.

  11. 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.

  12. Redhead in Cox/Warehouse Creeks looks considerably better with dense growth and some green shoots.

  13. 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..............!

  14. Individual redhead plants with up to 3 stems stuck in the intertidal zone at home showed some spreading from 9 of 10 plants.

  15. 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 well.......................????????????????????????

  16. Cumulative stress noted in Eastern Bay and vicinity this year include:
    • 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 operations(local)
    • Mowing/removal of plants by crab scraping operations
    • Excessive grazing by 100s of mute swans
    • Excessive turbidity caused by cow-nosed rays(local)
    • 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 elsewhere.
    • Excessive fecal coliform counts in the Wye River from ...."we know not where"!

10/02/98 Bob Orth, VIMS

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 quite extensive!

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.

09/21/98 Bob Orth, VIMS

SAV Aerial Update - September 21, 1998 - Flown September 12

Flight lines 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 48, 49, 51, 52

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 Bortz).


09/13/98 Bob Orth, VIMS

SAV Aerial Update - September 13, 1998 - Flown Sept. 5 (Rappahannock and Potomac rivers) and Sept. 9 (James River)

Flight lines 76, 76A, 118-124, 133, 142a, 142b, 162, 163, 164, and 165

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).


09/13/98 Harry Womack, Salisbury State University

Coastal Bays Update

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 previously reported.

The Zostera beds were located:

  1. Off the beach about 200 yds. north of Public Landing (a plus one bed)
  2. 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).
  3. 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 them 2s).

The three Ruppia beds were located:

  1. 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.
  2. Along the landward side of Brockanorton Bay (again plus one.)
  3. 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 Coastal Bays.)

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 former hypothesis).

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.

09/08/98 Bob Orth, VIMS

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 Rappahannock.

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 signatures).

08/28/98 Justin Reel, USGS

Potomac Update

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 Point.

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.

08/17/98 Harry Womack, Salisbury State University

SAV in St. Martin's Creek

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 further up.

08/17/98 Bob Orth, VIMS

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 some expansion

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 the coves).

Also, Robin Cove, cove at Nichols Pt., and a couple of creeks up from Nichols Pt.

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) No SAV

Lines 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59 (flown Aug. 2,4)

WEST RIVER AREA SAV present at mouth of Parish Creek


SOUTH RIVER SAV abundant along south shore of Glebe Bay, south of Limehouse Cove on outside of breakwaters

SEVERN RIVER 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)

MAGOTHY RIVER 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.,

BODKIN CREEK 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)

BUSH RIVER 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 banks.

POOLES ISL Small patchy bed on East side of Island (see 1997 map 14)

GUNPOWDER RIVER 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!


08/12/98 Jamie Baxter, CBF

Hopkin's Cove SAV report

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 handles!

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 turbid. 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

08/08/98 Peter Bergstrom, USFWS

South River SAV report

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).

Peter Bergstrom

08/05/98 Bob Orth, VIMS

Scallops, Chincoteague, Protection

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.

Bob (JJ)

08/05/98 Virginia Carter, USGS

SAV in Potomac above Little Falls

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.


08/05/98 Peter Bergstrom, USFWS

Queenstown Creek, Chester River SAV update

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 the creek.

Peter Bergstrom

08/04/98, Lee Karrh, Maryland DNR

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.


08/04/98 Bob Orth, VIMS

SAV Aerial Update - August 4, 1998 - Flown July 21 Flight Lines 17-19, 22-32


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 mainstem sections.

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 photos

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.

Bob (JJ)

07/29/98 Peter Bergstrom, USFWS

Wild Celery in Shallow Creek!

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.


07/27/98 Bob Orth, VIMS

SAV Aerial Update - July 27, 1998 - Flown July 21

Lines 61-65 - Patuxent River

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 river.

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.


07/21/98 Bob Orth, VIMS

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 this bed??).

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 eelgrass.

07/20/98 Harry Womack, Salisbury State University

Coastal Bays Update

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.

  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

07/14/98 Bob Orth, VIMS

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 well!)

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 1996.

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 Magothy Bay.

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 scarred areas.

07/07/98, Henry Ruhl, USGS

Potomac Update


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 year.

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.

Henry Ruhl
US Geological Survey
430 National Center
Reston, VA 22092

06/17/98 Peter Bergstrom, USFWS

SAV Ground truthing, Magothy River

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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

Tidal fresh
(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 loosestrife)

*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 Cove/Cypress Creek
  • Ruppia maritima (Rm, Widgeongrass), low form, Swan Cove (above N. Ferry Pt) and S Ferry Pt (not found upriver of those sites)

--Peter Bergstrom
US Fish & Wildlife Service
(410) 573-4554

06/13/98 Peter Bergstrom, USFWS

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 creek.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

06/01/98 Bob Orth, VIMS

Eelgrass in Eastern Bay

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 years!!

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 there!

05/28-05/31/98 Peter Bergstrom, USFWS

SAV Ground truthing, Clements Creek Severn R.

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 ground truthing.

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!


05/25/98 Bob Orth, VIMS

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.



04/23/98, Henry Ruhl, USGS

Potomac Update

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 in area.

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

04/22/98, Mike Naylor, Maryland DNR

Eelgrass in Eastern Bay!

Just a quick note from the field.

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.