08/17/99 Chris Tanner, St. Mary's College of
Md. - St. Mary's River
08/13/99 Adam Rottman, DC Fisheries - Wilson
08/13/99 James Fishman, VIMS - Pamunkey , Mattaponi,
and upper Rappahanock Rivers
08/12/99 Bob Orth, VIMS - SAV Aerial Update #7
(Chester and Choptank Rivers)
08/11/99 Peter Bergstrom, USFWS - Nontidal Susquehanna
08/03/99 Bob Orth, VIMS - SAV Aerial Update #5
07/28/99 Bob Orth, VIMS - SAV Aerial Update #4
(Lower Potomoc River)
07/27/99 Bill Street, CBF - Tedious Creek and
Potomac SAV Hunt
07/21/99 Monica Horan, and Tom Parham, MD DNR
- Shallow Creek (mouth of Patapsco), Long Creek (Back River mouth), Sue
creek (Middle River) SAV groundtruthing
07/19/99 Bob Orth, VIMS - SAV Aerial Update #3
(Eastern Bay, Choptank River, and Chester River)
07/13/99 Lee Karrh, Monica Horan, and Tom Parham,
MD DNR - Eastern Bay ground truthing
07/02/99 Peter Bergstrom, USFWS - Upper Magothy
06/28/99 Bob Orth, VIMS - SAV Aerial Update #2
(Little Annemessex River, Big Annemessex River, Deal Island, Lower Manokin
River, Fishing Bay, Honga River, Barren Island, Tar Bay, James Island,
Slaughter Creek, Mid-bay Island Complex, Great Fox Island, Pocomoke Sound,
Rappahannock River, Piankatank River, Milford Haven, Lower Eastern Shore,
06/27/99 Peter Bergstrom, USFWS - Queenstown
Creek, Chester River, Galloway Creek, Middle River, Dundee Creek, Gunpowder
06/24/99 Harry Womack, Salisbury State University
- Wetipquin Creek
06/24/99 Peter Bergstrom, USFWS - SAV changes
in Shallow Creek, Patapsco River
06/16/99 Peter Bergstrom, USFWS - Severn River/Asquith
06/06/99 Harry Womack, Salisbury State University
- Coastal Bays
06/04/99 Harry Womack, Salisbury State University
- Monie Bay
06/02/99 Peter Bergstrom, USFWS - Tangier Sound,
Tedious creek, Rock Hall
05/28/99 Bob Orth, VIMS - SAV Aerial Update #1
(James River, Lower York River, Mobjack Bay, Poquoson Flats, Back and Poquoson
rivers, Broad Bay, Little Creek, Lynnhaven River, South of Cape Charles
to Nassawadox Creek)
05/21/99 Peter Bergstrom, USFWS - Magothy/Severn
SAV ground survey update
05/21/99 Bob Orth, VIMS - SAV Ground Survey Update
(South Marsh Is., Bloodsworth Is., and lower Honga River)
SAV Aerial Update #9 - September 23, 1999 - Photography Flown 9/11
Below is the latest aerial update. As noted earlier, the weather has
been extremely uncooperative over the last month, and when dealing with
air space restrictions over Aberdeen (Sunday only flights), little has
gotten done. Floyd had a big impact on water clarity as you will note from
the some of the observations below, but it appears that some areas are
clearing up (see below). Hopefully we can get some of the remaining areas
covered next week. It does appear that winds from Floyd may be responsible
for some loss that may compromise our ability to come up with good numbers
for specific areas. Lines 16-19 (Flown Sept. 11)
LITTLE CHOPTANK RIVER
SAV appears abundant in Brooks, Hudson, Back, Phillips and Beckwith
creeks and Little Choptank River (Quad 51,
SAV signature is not as strong on the photos but we are a little late this
year in acquiring the photos from this area but they are still clearly
detectable. Some beds are absent in the upper portions of the Little Choptank.
Note: the area around Hills Point Cove has an impressive amount of SAV
this year, much more than in 1998 (Quad 51)!
I was quite surprised when I saw how much SAV appeared here this year!
TRIPPE AND BRANNOCK BAYS SAV abundant as in all the past years (Quad
CHOPTANK RIVER - SOUTH SIDE
Cooks Point Cove - SAV present and abundant, more so than in 1998. SAV
also present and abundant in the cove immediately adjacent to Cooks Pt.
(Remnant of dredge scars are still noticeable in a few areas (Quad 51)
Todds Point to Chapel Creek - SAV much more abundant in 1999 especially
in the cove just down from Todds Pt. and at the mouth of Chapel Creek (Quad
The offshore, outer edges are patchy and the remnants of the clam scarring
are visible in some of the areas. The scars appear darker and I cannot
say whether this is from SAV or a mass of macroalgae that may have settled
within the scarred area, or both. Whatever the case, this is good news
for the SAV in this part of the Choptank River.
UPPER RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER (Line 142)
One small bed of SAV adjacent to a marsh at Horse Head Pt. up from Leedstown
- same as last year and which was groundtruthed this year by our staff
as having coontail and hydrilla.
Thanks to all who responded to my request on water clarity issues. Here's
a summary of what I received:
POTOMAC RIVER AT ALEXANDRIA: secchi readings from Nancy Rybicki's father
- 1.12 m day before Floyd, 0.30 on Friday, 0.60 Sun, Mon, 0.76 Tues, 0.57
Wed, and 0.64 Thurs.
(From Bruce Michael - MD DNR): Secchi readings on Sept 21-22 in upper
Potomac River mainstem stations (from around Piscataway to Mattawaoman
creeks) were 0.4 to 0.6 and approx. 0.9 in the lower portion of the trib.
LOWER BAY - JUVENILE FINFISH SAMPLING
Western shore - we completed trawls at 45 sample sites from just above
the mouth of the Rappahannock River to the mouth of Back River - beds were
incredibly 'clean' meaning very little macroalgae or detritus - Floyd flushed
the system! Water clarity wasn't too bad (secchi depth ranged from .8 -
1.2 m but there was a lot of color in the water. Many of our shallower
sites had SD = water depth, for stations in water depths of less than 1.2
Eastern shore - trawls at 70 sites from Bloodsworth, Southmarsh, Smith,
and Tangier islands and from Crisfield to Onancock Creek - secchi's similar
to western shore and at one site was 1.6 m. Widgeongrass beds was still
(From Julie Bortz): Sept. 20, secchi depth at Pooles Isl- 1.15 and 0.9m;
Gunpowder and Bush were very turbid (no secchi's). Some areas off Carrol
Isl. Appeared to be very heavily scoured. Large racks of Val on the shoreline
and lots of floating mats of coontail.
(From Kent Mountford): at Osborn Cove off the Patuxent - secchi reading
day after was 0.20 m (down from 1.20) and has recovered to 0.55 on Sept.
(From Bruce Michael - MD DNR): Secchi readings on Sept 21-22 in upper
Chesapeake Bay mainstem stations (from Susquehanna Flats to the Bay Bridge
were between approx. 0.6 at the up bay stations to 0.8 at the lower stations).
08/29/99 Peter Bergstrom, USFWS
Very low Secchi depth & surface DO, Magothy River
Unusual water quality conditions in the Magothy River (Maps 23
MD) continued during the drought last Sunday (8/29), in spite of heavy
rains in the area on Thursday 8/26. In many cases the last time such extreme
conditions were seen in the Magothy was late summer 1995, our last drought
year. I've done volunteer water quality monitoring (with help from several
other volunteers from the Magothy River Association) at Magothy stations
As expected, salinity set new records: surface 14.2 o/oo at two sites,
Broad Creek and Sillery Bay, and bottom 14.3 o/oo at Broad Creek. Highest
surface salinity previously at Broad Creek was 13.7 o/oo on 9/23/95, but
bottom salinity in 3 meters of water was 15.1 o/oo at the same site that
day. Sillery Bay had 13.4 surface/15.5 bottom o/oo on 9/23/95 in 3.5 meters
of water. Surprisingly, we saw no sea nettles and only a few had been seen
recently. Wild celery growing in floats in Cattail Creek at Paul Spadaro's
dock have all died, probably from high salinity (12.6 o/oo on 8/29 on surface,
up the creek from his pier), but his seeds came from Aberdeen where salinity
is much lower. Wild celery is surviving in the Magothy in small patches
at South Ferry Point where salinity must be 13 o/oo now; probably a different
ecotype. An article in the March 1999 "Estuaries" (pp. 138-148) suggested
that wild celery in Florida can tolerate up to 15 o/oo, which is consistent
with the Magothy beds. We need to consider ecotypes more in SAV planting;
unfortunately the Magothy wild celery beds are small, and I've never seen
seeds on them.
We found a very low Secchi depth in Cattail Creek, 0.15 meters, which
was almost the lowest I've ever recorded. The only lower reading was 0.1
m at Beachwood Park in the upper Magothy (below Magothy Bridge) on 9/23/95,
and also 0.2 m at the same Cattail site on 3 dates in August and September
1995. The water in Cattail on Sunday looked like raspberry iced tea. Other
Secchi depths on Sunday ranged from 0.4 m in Old Man Creek to 1.0 m in
Forked Creek; I revisited the Cattail site the next day (8/30) and the
Secchi had climbed to 0.3 m. Unfortunately my LiCor light meter stopped
working on Sunday; when the Secchi depth was 0.2 m in Cattail Creek on
8/26/95, the measured Kd was 4.3 1/m.
However, the 0.9 mg/l surface Dissolved Oxygen (DO) we measured at Cattail
on Sunday was the lowest surface DO I've ever measured. Sunday was still
warm and fairly calm; when a slight breeze rippled the surface, the surface
DO climbed to 2 or 3 mg/l. The next lowest surface reading I've recorded
was 2.1 mg/l, also in Cattail Creek, also on 9/23/95. Normally during an
algae bloom the surface DO is high, often supersaturated, due to high rates
of photosynthesis; surface pH is usually also high as CO2 is used up by
plants, withdrawing carbonic acid from the water. I've measured surface
DO as high as 17 mg/l in Old Man Creek (near Cattail creek) in 6/95, with
surface pH of 9; surface pH in Cattail on Sunday was only 7, further evidence
for a lack of live algae. The largest differences recorded between surface
and bottom DO, >>per meter of depth<<, were over 8 mg/l at two sites
(Old Man Creek and Beachwood park) and 5-6 mg/l at those two sites plus
twice at Cattail Creek. The largest DO difference was in 1.3 meters of
water at Old Man creek in 9/97; surface DO was 11.5 mg/l, bottom was 0.54
mg/l, difference per meter was 8.4 mg/l.
Charlie Poukish, MDE (who studies fish kills) said they examined a murky
Broad Creek sample in the last few days and it was NOT an algae bloom,
but contained some pigment, probably from dead algae. This would explain
the low surface DO seen in Cattail on Sunday. He thinks the Magothy fish
kill over the July 4 weekend happened because the low DO conditions came
on suddenly, and that we're not seeing fish kills now because most fish
are avoiding the area, and those that are left can tolerate low DO better.
I'm working with the Magothy River Association to put all the data we've
collected on their web page; I'll publicize the address when available.
08/29/99 Chris Tanner, St. Mary's College
On August 29 we had chance to check a few more sites in the St. Mary's
River. Just off Calvert Creek we found several small patches of Ruppia
maritima. Shoots were relatively sparse in these patches and covered
with filamentous algae. Moving to the other side of the river, we found
a continuous bed of Rm from Russell Point stretching towards the northwest.
We did not see SAV between this bed and Indigo Point. Salinities were around
15 ppt and secchi depth around 1.5 meters.
08/25/99 Bob Orth, VIMS
SAV Aerial Update #8 - August 25, 1999 - Photography Flown 7/28,
8/6, and 8/17
Cobb Island - SAV present again in Neale Sound between the island and
mainland; however, the signature is not as dense as last year and may reflect
milfoil's response to this year's higher salinities (Quads 67,
Cuckhold and Picowaxen creeks - SAV very abundant in and along the shoreline
between these two creeks as well as around the Rte 301 Power Plant (Quad
Nanjemoy Creek - WOW! Impressive growth throughout the creek along both
shores! (Quads 56,
Wicomico River - SAV present in basically in same locations as in 1998
- beds appear very dense (Quads 58,
Port Tobacco River and Goose Creek - very dense SAV growth along both
shorelines (Quad 57)!
Upper Machodoc Creek - dense SAV, especially in the upper portions (Quad
Rosier and Goldman creeks - SAV same as in past years (dense) (Quads
Lines 56, 57, 58, 59 (flown 8/6/99 - some portions of lines 56-58 will
have to be reflown because they were taken just outside of the tide window)
West River - No SAV
Rhode River - No SAV
South River - SAV abundant along the south shore of Glebe Bay (Quad
Severn River - SAV continues to be abundant and dense in many of the
same areas mapped in 1998 (e.g., the shoreline from south of Asquith Creek
to Sullivan Cove, the shoreline from Hopkins Creek to Brewer Creek (along
Sherwood Forest), Round Bay, Long Pt. (Quad 23)
Magothy River (only the area covered by line 56 - this is an area that
will be reflown although the SAV is detectable) - SAV present along shoreline
from Deep Creek to Ulmsteads Pt., and into Forked Creek, along an area
called Wilson Wharf, along the shoreline coming out of Blackhole Creek
going upriver (Quads 23,
08/12/99 Bob Orth, VIMS
SAV in Rappahannock River (8/5/99)
Ground Survey of SAV in the lower Rappahannock River, north shore from
the Rt 3 bridge at White Stone to Towles Pt., including the Corrotoman
River on Aug. 5.
We field checked many of the sites that showed SAV to be present in
the 1999 photography which were similar to what has been reported in the
1998 survey, especially the Corrotoman River. We found patchy to dense
widgeongrass from the bridge at Sanders Cove, mouth of Carter's Creek,
Towles Pt, and at numerous locations in the Corrotoman (Quad 111).
Some of the widgeongrass was at or just past its peak of flowering, and
those areas with flowering shoots were very dense. We also concentrated
our observations in those areas where one citizen reported eelgrass at
many sites. We found no eelgrass and believe that widgeongrass was misidentified
by that individual. (For those who work with citizens, please emphasize
the importance of identifying species correctly!!)
This region of the Rappahannock River is interesting in that SAV populations
(principally widgeongrass today, although eelgrass was abundant prior to
1972) continue to persist and is the only area in the entire Rappahannock
River that supports SAV beds that have persisted for years.
08/13/99 Chris Tanner, St. Mary's College
During the course of the summer my students (primarily Doug Howard)
and I have been monitoring water quality and keeping an eye in on SAV in
the St. Mary's River. Overall we have seen a substantial increase in SAV.
On June 16 we observed an enormous bed of Zannichellia palustris
(Zp) that covered just about the entire basin upstream of Tippity Wichity
Island (off Warehouse Point). The Zp included prostrate and upright forms
and was in flower. Just about all of the Zp was gone when we checked back
In June and July we also observed dense beds of Ruppia maritima
(Rm) just below Chancellor Point, at Windmill Point and east of Rose Croft
Point. The beds at Chancellor and Rose Croft were similar in size to what
we had observed last summer, but the Rm at Chancellor represented a large
increase from the scattered patches observed during the last couple years.
Both the prostrate form and upright form (with flowers) were present at
all three sites
On August 11 we surveyed areas reported to show SAV in the aerial surveys.
Again at Chancellor, Windmill and Rose Croft Points, we observed dense
beds of Rm. This time we found patches of Rm to the north of Chancellor
Point, an area where we have not previously seen SAV. At Windmill Point
the bed was most dense near the point but patches extended along the shore
up-stream at least as far as Calloway Landing. No SAV was observed between
Windmill Point and Josh Point. To the south of Carthagena Creek, large
patches (30 to 50% coverage in shallow water) of Rm were observed from
Coade Point to Edmund Point. A plume of sediment was observed between Edmund
and Cherryfield Points, greatly increasing the turbidity of the water.
We guessed that the secchi depth in this area was about 0.5 meters as compared
to greater than 1.5 meters elsewhere in the river. The plume seemed to
be coming from shoreline erosion as it diminished toward Cherryfield Point.
Along this stretch of shoreline was a continuous bed of Rm, breaking up
into patches towards Cherryfield Point. Dense patches of Rm were observed
on the St. Georges Creek side of Cherryfield Point (in the mouth of Price
Cove), off Goose Point and along the shore to Taylor Cove. Patches of Rm
were also found around Dodson Point, SE of the St. George Island bridge.
We didn't survey further along St. George Island (towards Indigo Point),
but will in the near future. Across the river we saw large patches of Rm
between Sage Point and Priest Point. We didn't survey the mouth of Smith
Creek or Calvert Bay, but will try to in the near future.
All the SAV beds that we surveyed on August 11 were sampled with a rake.
With the exception of a few patches, all of the beds had the upright form
and flowers. Vouchers are available for verification. We did not find any
Zp, although in previous years we observed Zp at Chancellors, Rosecroft
and Dodson Points. On the 1998 quad maps Potamogeton pusillus (Ppu) is
listed for Windmill and Cherryfield Points and Zostera marina (Zm) is listed
for Windmill and Goose Points. We did not observe either of these species
in our survey. Zm that we transplanted to Windmill Point in June of 1998
is gone, as is the Zm transplanted to Dodson and Rose Croft Points by the
Alliance for the Chesapeake in the falls of 1997 and 1996.
Although we do not yet have all of our samples analyzed, water quality
appears to be very good this summer. In most areas of the river the secchi
depth has been greater than 1.0 and frequently greater than 1.5 meters.
Salinities have generally been greater than 15 ppt and temperatures have
stayed below 30 degrees C.
One of the most unusual things this year is the very low percentage
Hydrilla in the bed at the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. We estimated
it approximately 5% Hydrilla, upstream at least. We drove in/around
it alot and it was hard to find a very big section of it. There was one
downstream of the Bridge. The mat was mostly, approximately 70%-80%, Ceratophyllum
demersum. Just thought you might find that interesting.
08/13/99 James Fishman, VIMS
Groundtruthing in the Pamunkey , Mattaponi, and Upper Rappahanock
Last week, we conducted groundtruthing in the Pamunkey , Mattaponi,
and upper Rappahanock River to check out signatures from the photographed
areas (photos from 1998). Our findings were quite impressive!
Pamunkey River (quad 228):
In a large bed near the Pamunkey Indian reservation, we found
Naiad (guadalupensis, we believe), and yes, Hydrilla.
There was also quite a bit of Nitella algae around. Hydrilla
was found in a few other beds, including near Big Island and Clayborne
Naiads were dominant at these areas. Most grass
was growing at 40-50 cm (low tide).
Mattaponi River (quad 225):
Although there are only a handful of beds between Locust Grove and
Roanes Wharf, we found quite a lot of Vallisneria in almost all
of the beds.
Nitella algae was also common, and there was another
species present in a few of the beds we are still identifying.
Upper Rappahannock (quads 200
These areas were far upriver of Tappahannock, between Drakes Marsh
and Horse-Head Point. Ceratophyllum and Hydrilla were quite
abundant in most of the beds.
All of these beds were not as dense as shown in the 98 photographs,
but they are certainly present, and are therefore a source of propagules
for other sites. The abundance of Hydrilla in each of these systems,
as well as the presence of Vallisneria in the Mattaponi are impressive,
and raise quite a few questions concerning dispersal of these plants given
their isolation from other populations.
08/12/99 Bob Orth, VIMS
SAV Aerial Update #7 - August 12, 1999 - Photography Flown July 16
CHESTER RIVER (Lines 34-37, flown 8/6/1999, Quads 21,
Another puzzling picture - many of the dense beds along the Eastern
Neck Island area (Quad 26)
are very reduced and in particular, the Eastern Neck Narrows, and into
Church Creek (matching ground observations noted earlier). However, as
you move up into the creeks (e.g., Langford, Grays Inn, Davis), dense beds
can be observed along some of the shoreline, but in particular, many of
the small coves. The very dense bed in the cove at Nichols Pt, does not
show up in the photos - except for a small diffuse dark band along the
shoreline. Has anyone been out to the Chester for groundtruthing over the
last month (except for Dan Stotts, that is)??
May it be that we are observing selective responses by the different
species in this region to possibly higher salinities due to the drought?
Higher salinities could influence species like elodea and milfoil but not
affect widgeongrass which is one of the most widespread species in the
Bay. Perhaps this may support what was highlighted in TS1 - a restoration
goal based on SAV beds that have maximum density, high biomass, and native/diverse
species, all improving bed resiliency. The early work of Bailey, Stotts
and others showed this was the case for the Bay SAV as late as the 1960s.
CHOPTANK RIVER - HARRIS, BROAD, & IRISH CREEKS AND TRED AVON RIVER
(Lines 22-26, flown 8/6/1999, Quads 36,
These areas were reflown. SAV beds still present in many areas, but
appear to be restricted primarily to the lower portions of these three
areas. SAV beds in the upriver areas appear reduced or are absent, e.g.the
large shoal area at the confluence of San Domingo and Broad creeks (Quads
appear to be absent. This is quite interesting as Dan Stotts reported some
healthy widgeongrass beds in this area in May. SAV abundance will certainly
be down in 1999 at these locations. Interestingly, the SAV signature on
these photos is not as dramatic as in some other areas that have widgeongrass,
and I am wondering if it's possible that much of this widgeongrass is not
flowering. The flowering shoots are much longer than the vegetative shoots
and at low tide lay at the surface giving the photos a darker signature.
08/11/99 Peter Bergstrom, USFWS
Nontidal Susquehanna SAV
While on vacation in PA on Wednesday (8/11) I took the ferry across
the Susquehanna from Millersburg (E side) to the W side, about 25 miles
N of Harrisburg, where the river is about a mile wide. This is the last
ferry on the Susquehanna and the last stern paddle-wheel ferry in the country.
It draws only 14" but the river is so shallow they had to build a slackwater
dam to get enough water; nearby the river is becoming driveable (mostly
knee-deep away from the dam). [If you want to try riding the ferry, call
first (717-692-2442) since it may stop running due to low water soon; it
carries up to 4 cars at $5 for car and driver.]
I was pleasantly surprised to see that there was wild celery (Vallisneria
americana) almost all the way across the river, in very clear water.
There were bare patches towards the W side and none growing on the W shore,
while there were large beds on the E shore. The boat captain thought the
water on the W side from the W branch had different quality from water
in the E branch, although the confluence is about 30 miles upstream, and
that the sediments were more silty on the E side where there is more grass.
We didn't see any flowers on it, and the boat captain said he'd never seen
any in the 8 years he has been crossing the river (I showed him a picture
of the female flower stalks, which I happened to have in May Watt's "Reading
the Landscape of America," which was reprinted recently.) Nancy Rybicki
said she hasn't seen many flowers on Potomac wild celery yet this year,
and it's possible that he missed them in past years, or it could be spread
vegetatively. Have any of you seen flowers on Wild celery growing in running
water? It seems the male flowers and the pollen would wash away before
reaching the female flowers, unless it grew in long stretches.
Near the middle of the river we also saw a bit of what looked like Hydrilla
or Elodea, and what looked like Ribonleaf pondweed (Potamogeton epihydrus)
which had both flower stalks sticking above the surface and some floating
oval leaves, in addition to the ribbon-like underwater leaves. I forgot
my rake-on-a-rope so I couldn't be positive about those.
08/03/99 Bob Orth, VIMS
SAV Aerial Update #5 - August 3, 1999 - Photography Flown July 16
COASTAL BAYS, VA AND MD (Lines 114-116, flown July 16)
First the good news:
Coverage was excellent and SAV beds are present and abundant in the
same locations as has been reported in prior years. Beds have expanded
in some areas, esp. along the western side around Mills Island, Tizzard
Island and other islands in the Johnston, Brockatonorton and Martin bays
area. Impressive expansion!
Dredge scars in VA portion (circular scars; quads 172,
visible but some revegetation appears to be occurring. We ground-truthed
8 scars several weeks ago (two-1996, four-1997, and two-1998 scars, the
same scars that we checked in 1998) and found coverage to have increased
over last year. However, some portions of the scars were covered in thick
mats of macroalgae, which appeared to be concentrated in the scars. This
phenomena has the potential to slow recovery as the mats of macroalgae
can kill colonizing, as well as established seagrass
Now the bad news:
Outer portions of beds at Mills Island (172)
have been heavily impacted with dredge scars since last year. Dredge scars
that I observed on the photography in many areas still remain clearly visible.
Little revegetation appears to have occurred, e.g., the small scar we referred
to in my letter to Sec.
Griffin last year is still noticeable. I understand that macroalgae
has been noted in these scars. The scars act as a trap for the drift algae,
which will influence revegetation rates (similar to what we noted in the
circular scars in VA). The scarring in beds in Sinepuxent Bay above the
bridge (quads 167,
is 'unbelievable'! You have to see the photos to fully grasp the magnitude
and intensity of scarring. The damage in Sinepuxent Bay is something I
have never seen anywhere in the world. Sixty years of slow recovery may
have been almost completely destroyed in less than three! Beds in Isle
of Wight and Assawoman bays (quads 166,
to be present but remain heavily scarred. Area noted by the Ocean Pines
Boat Club in their annual survey appear to be present and in some areas
have actually expanded!
07/28/99 Bob Orth, VIMS
SAV Aerial Update #3 - July 28, 1999 - Photography Flown July 16
LOWER POTOMAC RIVER, MD and VA side
MARYLAND (Lines 68 - 71, flown July 16)
St. Mary's River - rather impressive increase in this river - patchy
to dense beds along both shores of the lower portion of the river. Densest
beds at Priests Pt, Rosecroft Pt., just south of Edmund Pt., and Windmill
Pt. (quads 80,
a small patchy bed at the mouth of Calvert Creek, just outside the St Mary's
River, which has been present in some of the earlier surveys.
St Georges Creek - patchy beds along Piney Pt. to the thoroughfare to
the Potomac, and going upriver from Goose Pt.(quads 80,
St. Clements Bay - SAV very abundant and very dense once again in the
lower portion along both shores (quads 69,
Breton Bay - patchy SAV in locations noted in 1998 (bed down from Protestant
Pt. Is now very dense) (quads 69,
VIRGINIA (lines 78 - 80, flown July 16) Lower Machodoc Creek - patchy
to dense beds in same locations as in 1997 and 1998, but most down from
Tidewells Pt.(quads 78,
Nomini Creek - mostly dense beds in lower portions and esp. in Buckner
Based on (Bob's observation of potential SAV
in the vicinity of the Tedious Creek mitigation planting where Peter and
I had not found any SAV, Jenn Aiosa and I went back to survey the area
on July 24. We found two species, but no eelgrass! We found Rm and Zp (clearly
rooted) growing outside the mitigation area. Neither species was visible
from the surface, so we used the foot survey method. The Zp had obviously
died back, but the Rm was also very low with only a few shoots extending
beyond 6 inches or with flowers. This was very different from the Rm beds
around Bishops Head and South Marsh that had many plants well over 3 feet.
Peter, you once had mentioned a low form of Rm. Could this be an example
or is the plant growth possibly stunted by habitat conditions?
The bed appeared to be outside the mitigation area and much smaller
than the bed that was mapped in 1995 in that area. Since local watermen
in the area are saying that SAV has rebounded to near the levels they remember
in 1995, it begs the question of whether the mitigation prevented the entire
1995 bed from coming back. Peter had mentioned that the mitigation had
involved covering the planting area with sand to make a better planting
substrate. However, the sand may have actually buried the existing seed
stock to the point that it did not come up despite adequate water quality
conditions. If this is the case, not only did the eelgrass planting fail,
but the mitigation actually reduced the amount of SAV that would have been
there this year. I think this demonstrates the importance of protecting
past SAV beds and argues against altering the substrate when planting in
Potomac SAV Hunt:
CBF held its last SAV ground truthing training in Maryland on July 10
at the National Colonial Farm. We will send out another email summarizing
the results of all of our trainings, but I wanted to let you know about
the incredible bed we saw in Bull Cove (quad
40). We surveyed J3
(1997) and I4
(1997) and found seven species in each bed (Va, Ms, Nm, Cd, Ng, Hv, Hd).
The bed in Bull Cove (I4) was another spectacular example of the importance
of SAV. As we paddled into the cove, the water went from a chocolate brown
on the main stem to crystal clear in the few places you could see down
between the SAV. It was one of those places where you can actually see
more fish when you are canoeing or snorkling than you can get in a seine
net because the grass is so thick. Although it was dominated by all three
of our exotic species (Nm, Hv, and a little Ms), all of the participants
were truly amazed and enthusiastic about doing their own ground truthing.
07/21/99, Monica Horan, and Tom Parham,
Shallow Creek (mouth of Patapsco), Long Creek (Back River mouth),
Sue creek (Middle River) SAV groundtruthing
Location - Shallow Creek (mouth of Patapsco) (quad 19)
Sparse beds of milfoil. Limited amount of horned pondweed still present.
Extremely sparse amounts widgeon grass. This bed was mapped A4 in 1998
Water conditions: salinity10ppt, water temp mid 80's (estimate), secchi
depth 2.5 ft
Location - Long Creek (Back River mouth) (quads 13
Rocky Point Park - wild celery planting location. Wild celery in good conditon.
Milfoil also present nearby in small beds.
Water conditions: salinity 8ppt, water temp mid 80's (estimate), secchi
depth 1.5 ft
Location - Sue creek (Middle River) (quad 13)
small amounts of Wild celery present near shoreline property of Chesapeake
Water conditions: salinity6ppt, water temp upper 80's (estimate), secchi
depth 2.25 ft
07/19/99 Bob Orth, VIMS
SAV Aerial Update #4 - July 19, 1999 - Photography Flown July 8
EASTERN BAY (flight lines 22 - 32 flown on July 8) (quads 32,
There were some quite interesting patterns this year and were quite
Miles River (quads 36
- in 1998 we reported many of the beds were either absent or very reduced
in density along both shores. Many of these areas are revegetated in 1999
but there is extensive scarring in many of these beds. Many of the scars
are much wider than what has been observed in Chincoteague and mid-bay
areas around Crisfield and Great Fox Islands and are sometimes paired with
a sliver of SAV between the scars. Question? Could this be the result of
crab scraping using paired rigs and pulled hydraulically??? If you have
been working in this area, please give me a call.
Tilghman Pt. to Miles R. (quads 36
- dense to patchy SAV with some scarring evident.
Tilghman Pt. south along Chesapeake Bay side (quad 36)
- patchy SAV in coves between Punch Pt. and Claiborne.
Kent Island side - (quads 32
dense to patchy beds from Kent Pt to Romancoke. Very interesting patterns
around the Romancoke area. Dense SAV patches inside and adjacent to piers
and very patchy from the piers to deeper water (pattern possibly due to
piers preventing clam and crab fishing activities??). Extensive scarring
noted in this area. Large, dense beds off Philpott Islands. Dense beds
present along both shores of the lower portion of Cox Creek. There appears
to be patchy SAV in a shoal area off Cox Neck that must be where Long Marsh
Island was (has anyone been out there?).
Crab Alley Bay (quad 32)
- very dense beds esp. around Little and Johnson Islands and Crab Alley
Parsons Isl. (quads 32and
are very dense and quite impressive, esp. along the eastern side of the
Wye R. (quads 33
- SAV present in a number of locations but extensive scarring noted in
the bed in Shaw Bay and a few other locations.
Piney Neck (quad 33)
- very dense beds from Piney Neck Point into Cabin Creek
Marshy Creek (quad 33)
- many of the dense beds noted in 1998 along both shores are either absent
or very reduced in abundance in 1999.
CHOPTANK RIVER (flight lines 22 - 32 flown on July 8) (north
shores and creeks only - quads 36,
Harris Creek (quads 36
- dense beds to patchy beds at the mouth but many of the fringing, smaller
beds throughout this area are not present or are very sparse. Some scarring
appears around the areas at the mouth and those beds are very patchy.
Broad Creek (quads 36
- dense beds at the mouth but many of the fringing, smaller beds throughout
this area are not present or are very sparse .
Tred Avon (quads 44
- much the same for this creek as in the other two. Only a few areas that
appear to have sparse beds.
CHESTER RIVER (quads 26,
Patchy to dense SAV from Winchester Creek to Queenstown Creek (quad 33)
with very little SAV evident in these two creeks. This is quite a contrast
from the last few years, but does match up with what Peter has noted from
07/13/99, Lee Karrh, Monica Horan, and
Tom Parham, Maryland DNR
Eastern Bay ground truthing
Parsons Island (quads 32and
Large beds on eastern side of island contain large amounts of sago and
widgeon grass. This bed was mapped RB4 in 1998 preliminary.
Hambleton Point (quad 37)
- a quick search revealed Scattered widgeon grass beds. Mapped Y2 in 1998
Marshy Creek (quad 33)
- Southern shore - Coverage way down from last year. Large dense mixed
bed of widgeon, redhead, elodea and milfoil in 1998 greatly reduced in
1999. Redhead very sparse. Northern shore- (1998 preliminary KA3) very
sparse redhead. Visibility for Marshy Creek less than 2 feet (estimate).
07/02/99 Peter Bergstrom, USFWS
Upper Magothy River, SAV ground truthing
Highlights from upper Magothy ground truthing, which I did with volunteer
Bud Jenkins on 7-2-99, all on Quad
23/Round Bay except Blackhole Creek (Map
As in past years, most of the SAV found in the upper Magothy was Zp,
which was short and sparse because we went so late! The "crab landing net"
with metal basket seems to be the most reliable way to pick up the short,
sparse plants. (Based on what I saw in Brewer Creek/Severn River this year,
Zp surveys in this area should be done by May 31, since significant Zp
dieback occurred between May 27 and June 16.)
-Upper limit of navigation (under the "A" of "MAGMH"): The Callitriche
and Sparganium we found here last year in clear water was gone,
only a few shoots of Zp found. The water was murky with clumps of floating
algae and a few dead yellow perch and carp (there was a fish kill in the
Magothy a few days before). Salinity 5 ppt, Secchi > 0.7 m.
-Cypress Creek/Smugglers Cove. The Ms and Zp found here in past years
was still there; tide was fairly high so we got farther into the cove than
usual, and found Ec and Ppf as well for the first time at this site. Salinity
10 ppt, Secchi 0.8 m.
-Ross Cove, N shore (to left of "GA2" label on 98 map): This is the
farthest upriver we have found Rm; small bed outside mouth of the cove,
which is just downriver from Steedman's Point on the full-size quad map.
-Unnamed cove just downriver from Ross Cove, 1998 bed GA2: Rm
-Swan Cove, bed EA4 1998 (Next cove downriver from GA2), Rm & Ppf,
farthest upriver we have found Ppf. SAlinity 11 ppt, Secchi 0.8 m.
-South Ferry Point, Bed AA2 1998: As we found last year, Ppf, Rm, Zp,
and Va are present, but most are patchy, sometimes (for all but Zp) in
round clumps of single species about the size of a patio table. A waterfront
property owner to whom I spoke said he thought the beds next to his pier
(mostly Ppf) extended farther out last year than this year. All the beds
were still pretty close to shore; there are rock groins perpendicular to
shore, and some of the Ppf beds seemed to be right next to a groin, perhaps
sheltered by it. This is a fairly exposed site (as shown by the groins)
which may explain why it doesn't follow the usual pattern in mid-Western
shore tribs of Rm colonizing first, then Ppf and other species mixing in
with the Rm. Rm is reported to be less tolerant of wave action than other
mesohaline species, and it is more common in sheltered coves on the magothy,
although it does fine on the open mainstem of the Severn. The Va seems
to have spread a bit since last year, but most was quite shallow and looked
a bit dirty and "chewed up."
-Blackhole Creek (Quad
024/Gibson Island): Bed R2 1998 is located where we planted SAV in
June 1998 (photo on 8/2/98), so some of it may be what we planted. However
in 1999 there is a natural Rm & Ppf bed in the same area (at W end
of bed R2) and little sign of what we planted, which was at the E end of
bed R2. I will check the planted area again soon at lower tide.
-Poorest dispersers: as in past years, Va and Ppc seem to be the slowest
to spread in the Magothy, and thus can probably benefit the most from planting.
Rm and Ppf appear to be spreading on their own, although more slowly than
in the Severn, and staying closer to shore than in the Severn.
06/28/99 Bob Orth, VIMS
SAV Aerial Update #2 - June 28, 1999 - Photography Flown May 29,
30, 31, June 7
Little Annemessex River (flight lines 110, 111) - Beds are denser
than in 1998 (quad 100,
The SAV bed at the mouth of the river on the south side that showed scarring
the last two years is denser and scars still present although scars are
not as clearly defined (recovery ??).
Big Annemessex River (flight lines 1, 1A)- SAV present primarily
at or near the mouth (quad
93), and in the same areas as reported in the past - however, many
beds appear denser and larger compared to 1998.
Deal Island and Lower Manokin River (flight lines 2, 3) - more
SAV beds than in 1998, many in same locations noted in earlier surveys
Large, dense bed in Laws Thoroughfare with numerous linear scars (clam
Honga River, Barren Island, Tar Bay (flight lines 12-15) SAV
more abundant at the Bishops Head area (quad
83), and patches noted from field observations inside the CBF breakwater
at Bishop's Head are clearly visible; many beds mapped in 1998 in the Honga
are denser and appear to have expanded (quads 73,
have reappeared around Barren Island and in Tar Bay (quads 72,
are a couple of areas just west of Docs Pt. between Opossum and Barren
islands that have some very dense SAV in 1999.
James Island (flight line 15) (quad
51) Patchy SAV along the east side of the northern section of James
Slaughter Creek (flight line 14) (quad
62) Sparse to dense SAV beds along the entire length, with new beds
present in some portions around the bridge and near the mouth.
MID-BAY ISLAND COMPLEX (flight lines 110,112, 113, 5, 6, 137)
Holland Island (quads 83,
beds along east side of the northern end of the island (matches up with
field observations noted earlier). (Nothing noted near Spring Island).
Bloodsworth Island (quad
83)- significant amount of patchy to dense SAV beds between Adam and
Northeast Island and into Northeast Cove at south end of Bloodsworth and
not mapped in 1998. New bed in Pone Cove on the west side of the island
just below Okahanikan Cove and which was not noted in 1998. SAV bed in
Okahanikan Cove still very dense in 1998 with more patchy areas noted along
the southern portion of the cove (see field notes
from May). New beds along east side in Great Cove Creek, between Cove
and Lower Island Pts., and in Piney Island Cove. Definitely more SAV in
1999 here compared to 1998!!
Southmarsh Island (quad
91) - new bed in Sheepshead Harbor, 1998 bed in Pry Cove still dense
and some new beds along the south side of this cove. New, but very patch
bed, in Johnson Cove. No beds along east side of Island. Definitely more
SAV in 1999 here compared to 1998!!
Tangier/Smith Island (quads 91,
SAV abundant in many of the same locations but many beds appear larger
and denser than in 1998. Beds around Tangier very dense esp. in Mailboat
Harbor. Some areas appear to have rebounded from 1998 (e.g. Back Cove and
Terrapin Sand Cove). The large shallow water area near Ewell (the Big Thoroughfare)
has more SAV compared to 1998.
Watts Island (quad
107)- very patchy SAV on west side of island.
Great Fox Island (flight lines 109, 111) (quad
100) SAV very dense along the east side of the Fox islands . Some areas
that were patchy in 1998 have expanded and are more dense. SAV still present
just north of these islands along the western side of Cedar Island.
Pocomoke Sound (flight lines 107,108, 109, 110) (quads 100,
along the north side (MD portion), especially around Broad Creek , denser
than in 1998 but clam dredge scarring noted in 1998 still evident. Beds
along southern shore (VA portion) very dense especially Webb and Halfmoon
Islands and adjacent to Big Marsh. Large bed west of Webb and Halfmoon
Islands is still present but very patchy. Other, smaller beds noted in
previous years are still present, with some denser than what was noted
Rappahannock River (flight lines 87 a,b,c,d, 88) (quads 110,
As in the past few years, there is very little SAV in the lower river (mouth
to Moratico). What SAV remains is in the same areas we have observed in
the recent few years: very sparse beds at Windmill Pt., a dense bed at
the mouth of Carter Creek along with some smaller, dense beds in Carter's
Creek; dense beds in the Corrotoman River (this smaller trib of the Rappahannock
R. contains most of the SAV in this region), and some smaller, scattered
beds between the Corrotoman and the mouth of the Rappahannock. Much of
the SAV recorded here has been widgeongrass except for the bed at Windmill
Pt., which has contained eelgrass.
Windmill Pt (Mouth of Rappahannock) to Smith Point (Mouth of Potomac)
(flight lines 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 138) (quads 106,
present in Fleets Bay, and Dymer, Indian, and Dividing creeks, again in
the same areas as reported in previous years. No apparent major changes.
SAV very dense at Dameron Marsh. Dense bed at Fleeton Point.
Piankatank River/Milford Haven (flight lines 89, 90) Only SAV
in the Piankatank on and just behind extensive shoal area at north end
of Gwynn Island (quad
118). Dense beds at south end of Gwynn Island (quad
123) at 'the Hole in the Wall', with very patchy beds on west side
of island in Milford Haven. Some beds in Milford Haven are less dense than
in 1998, or absent.
Lower Eastern Shore, Virginia (flight lines 104-108) Nassawadox
Creek north to Big Marsh and Chesconessex Creek (quads 108,
119, 124) - abundant and dense SAV at all creek mouths, along the southern
portion of Big Marsh, and very dense adjacent to Parker and Finney Islands,
similar to past years (some areas have gotten more dense); however, there
is less SAV in both Occohannock and Craddock creeks.
06/27/99 Peter Bergstrom, USFWS
Queenstown Creek, Chester River
I visited Queenstown Creek by canoe with a CBF teacher trip on 6/27.
The same creek was visited by an SAV Hunt training trip on 6/26, which
I did not attend (Kim Donahue led it and reported similar changes).
The most obvious change from the last few years was a general LOSS of
SAV. In particular, the outer edges of the main bed in the center of the
creek (Map 033, Bed B4
96) were gone. The central part of the large bed (which was and is
mostly widgeongrass Rm with some redhead grass Ppf and sago pondweed Ppc)
is still there but seemed to be less dense and smaller than in the past.
The two beds that flanked the entrance of the creek (A4 and E3 in 1997,
mainly Ppf) were mostly or completely gone. This is distressing because
the area was increasing in SAV, in spite of very poor water clarity in
the upper Chester segment (CHSOH), which is among the poorest of all 69
segments in median Percent Light at the Leaf (PLL), the new integrated
The outer edges of that large bed (B4 97) were almost entirely Elodea
canadensis (Ec) last year; very little Ec was found this year (a few
shoots brought up on rakes). The central part of the bed which remains
is mostly Rm with some Ppf and Ppc. We snorkeled over it (dodging a few
sea nettles) and the epiphyte load looked heavy; SAV (Rm & Ppf) on
the edges of that bed were almost prostrate with the weight of epiphytes
and attached sediment. The dramatic improvement in water clarity seen inside
the beds last year was less evident this year. Seining in this bed yielded
pumpkinseed sunfish, sticklebacks, comb jellies, silversides, mummichogs,
and pipefish. We saw sunfish pits which seemed surprising in salinity this
high. We also saw a dead, beached cownose ray, a possible threat to the
The salinity yesterday was high (13 ppt by refractometer). The Secchi
depth was 0.8-1.0 meters, similar to past years. On 6/25/97 (an 'average'
flow year), surface salinity in this creek was 8 ppt and Secchi depth was
0.8 m. The published salinity upper limit for Ec is only 4 ppt BUT Court
reports in his SAV literature synthesis that the VERY similar-looking E.
nuttalli, also reported in Chesapeake Bay (Brown & Brown), can
tolerate up to 14 ppt. Thus to determine if high salinity may have caused
Ec declines, we'd have to know which species is present. The fact that
other SAV species have also declined in Queenstown Creek argues against
a simple salinity explanation.
There also appeared to be somewhat less Eurasian watermilfoil (Ms) in
Queenstown Creek than in past years. One cove that was primarily Ms in
past years (Map 033, Bed D4
98) still has Ms this year but it appears to be less dense than in
past years. Generally Ms is more tolerant of higher salinity that Ec; Ms
grows towards the lower reaches of the Severn, for example, but Ec has
not been recorded there recently. Ec is uncommon in the magothy.
Galloway Creek, Middle River
Interestingly, Middle River/Galloway Creek also had less Ec this year
(on 5/12/99) compared to last year. However, in that creek the Ec beds
(map 013) appeared to be less dense in 1998 compared to 1997 (they were
found by ground truthing in 1998 but did not appear in the aerial photos
as they did in 1997). The 1998 decline could not have been caused by high
salinity since 1998 had high flow.
Dundee Creek, Gunpowder River
Kim also led a field trip here over the weekend with Julie Bortz and
Mike Weldon; she reported the SAV there is doing well.
06/24/99 Harry Womack, Salisbury State University
I had noted a great deal of SAV in the upper reaches of Wetipquin Creek
(flows from the east into the lower Nanticoke near the town of Wetipquin,
Took a canoe out with 2 students and found several miles of Ruppia
mixed with a smaller amount of Zannichellia. There could be as many
as 5 miles of this stuff. It is thick and found in waters less than about
1 meter deep (primarily along the sides. We did not do the entire creek
(just coordinates 74.49.82, 38.19.52 to 75.48.61, 38.19.21 --the creek
forks). The Ruppia was flowering and both species appeared to be
in excellent condition.
06/24/99 Peter Bergstrom, USFWS
SAV changes in Shallow Creek, Patapsco River
While doing SAV planting this week in Shallow Creek (quad
19 in VIMS survey) we checked the status of natural beds in the creek.
We found that the large, density 3 or 4 bed that was mapped in 1996 (D4/E2),
and 1998 (C4/F4)
was mostly gone. It's possible that the cool spring has delayed growth,
although the bed was mostly milfoil (Ms) which tends to come up by now,
the salinity is within the Ms range (7-8 ppt), and there is sparse milfoil
in the shallows which is up to the surface. I took samples with a crab
net every few seconds as we moved slowly along most of the channel where
dredging is planned for this winter, and found only 1 sprig of Ms. The
dense bed in the "outer cove" (B2 96, A2 97, A4 98) was also mostly gone,
except for a fringe of milfoil and horned pondweed (Zp) in the shallows,
and a sparse mixture of Zp and sago pondweed (Ppc) in the mouth of the
cove, near where we saw one bed of wild celery (Va) in 1997. We saw floating
Va leaves before we started planting this year but found none rooted. Sago
pondweed had not been found in this creek before; its presence is a good
We planted 1200 units Va, and 400 each of Ppc and redhead grass (Ppf).
Thus two of these species occur naturally in the creek already. Thanks
to all the Corps staff and SAV Workgroup members who helped.
No sign yet of the very dense filamentous algae that completely covered
the milfoil by last July (and may have contributed to the milfoil's decline);
a little bit of it was seen. We did see flocks of mallards, mute swans,
and resident Canada geese, all apparently eating milfoil in the shallows.
I'll keep monitoring the natural SAV as I return to the creek to check
the growth of the planted SAV.
06/16/99 Peter Bergstrom, USFWS
Severn River/Asquith Bed
Severn Water quality and phenology
The salinity in the river was still 10 ppt even after rain on Monday
night, and one sea nettle was seen. The Secchi depth was 1.0 meters. The
lush horned pondweed that was in Brewer Creek (map
23) when we were there on May 27 had mostly died back. The widgeongrass
(Rm), which had very few flowers on May 27, was almost all in flower on
6/16, and a few of the female flowers were starting to open. The redhead
grass (Ppf) was closer to the surface than it was on May 27, but no flowers
were seen yet.
SAV Species diversity in the middle Western shore
No other SAV species were seen either outside Rays Pond or at the Asquith
bed. The apparent absence of sago pondweed (Ppc) in this area of large
beds is somewhat puzzling because I have found sago pondweed growing elsewhere
in the Severn: near Sullivan Cove (map 23, 1996
bed I4 and 1997
bed E4), upriver from Asquith Creek, and in Clements Creek, downriver
from Asquith Creek (bed H4), on 5/28/98. However, Ppc is also fairly localized
in the Magothy, and does not appear to spread as easily as Rm or Ppf. The
Severn has 5 known species of SAV (Zp, Rm, Ppf, Ppc, and Ms), the same
species that were recorded in 1978 ground truthing. Wild celery (Va) was
reported in the Severn in 1979 just upriver from the mouth of Valentine
Creek along with Ppf and Rm. John Page Williams (CBF) recently planted
Va in Rays Pond in the Severn; other low salinity species such as Elodea
(Ec) should also be able to grow there.
The slightly less salty Magothy to the north has all the 5 found recently
in the Severn plus 5 more species (Va, Ec, Cd, Hd, and N) for a total of
10 species. Of this 10, only 5 were reported in the Magothy in 1978 (Ppf,
Ppc, Va, N, and Zp near Dobbins
Island). The recent Magothy species not recorded in 1978 (Ec, Cd, Hd,
Rm, and Ms) are fairly localized today (except Rm), and ground truthing
in 1978 was only shown for two beds. The slightly more salty South River
the south has only two species recorded recently, Zp and Rm, although Ppf
was ground truthed in Glebe Bay in 1978.
The Asquith bed appeared to be at least as large as in past years, although
it has not yet covered the entire shoal; there are bare, shallow areas
on the southern edge of the bed.
>>An encouraging pattern we noticed was that Ppf is spreading throughout
the Rm beds, including the one outside of Rays Pond. In 1996 the Ppf in
the Asquith bed was mainly confined to a central oval patch, but now it
seems to be intermingling with Rm throughout. Every several feet we saw
one or two bright green Ppf shoots among the Rm. The extent of SAV in the
Severn is now close to what was mapped in 1978 and 1979, which is very
encouraging. Although its SAV area is also increasing, this extent has
not yet been reached in the Magothy: in 1979 mapped beds extended up the
Magothy to the mouth of Cockey Creek, while in 1998 mapped beds extended
only to just above North Ferry Point.
06/06/99 Harry Womack, Salisbury State University
Yesterday I went down to the Coastal Bays to check out a few things,
and the results were interesting. First, I had mentioned last year that
there were occasional shoots of SAV (just single isolated sprigs, really,
along much of the sandy bottom on the East side of the Chincoteague. I
went down to Public Landing to check a planting site and found a perfect
low tide and decent clarity. So I checked the bottom (at least the sandy
parts) all the way up into Newport Bay (map
170). What I found was 99% Zostera, and plenty of it. It was
usually in small clumps (about .5- 1 meter square), with the clumps spread
over an area extending out to the point where the water was about 2.5 ft.
deep. There were small beds, and there were bands of SAV about a yard wide
that extended for some distance --at times across a marsh creek mouth.
This is quite a distance and when you put it all together it represents
a substantial amount of SAV in an area where none has been reported previously.
Some might be called a +1 bed, but I don't think so.
My impression- the return of the SAV continues. It seems to be colonizing
almost everywhere there is sandy bottom and shallow depth- almost surely
I went way back up into Newport Bay (all the way to the bridge) and
found NO SAV in the upper portions. It is very shallow, but the bottom
is very silty, and high in organics --it totally reminds me of the Coastal
Bays in Virginia. What I had observed from the air was simply very shallow
bottom which was submerged --there are miles of it.
My transplant results are just about complete, and I found that 3 of
the 7 beds we planted survived. It looks like only Zostera survived
at all. In the other 4 beds, 2 were destroyed by clammers (the intensity
of clamming in this region was unbelievable over the winter and they invaded
the very shallow water I had selected on a high tide and wiped them out.
The other 2 were on marginal bottom (higher organic, and more silty than
I would have liked --but it was suggested I try it. These mostly died over
the winter, then the algal competitors wiped out the rest in the Spring.
One question, if you could. Much of the Ruppia which I had observed
last week was out of water (again, it was at a very low tide). Somehow
I was under the impression that SAV could not withstand routine drying
out --some of these were a foot above water. How could this be?
06/04/99 Harry Womack, Salisbury State University
We had spotted a number of beds last year up one of the minor creeks
leading into Monie
Bay. I went back this afternoon and reviewed Big Monie and little Monie
Creek. It was a very low tide and ideal conditions for viewing SAV. We
found very little in Little Monie, and what was there was Ruppia.
However Big Monie had extensive beds almost all the way along it's entire
length. It was all Ruppia. The Ruppia began at 75-48.23 and
38-13.76 as patchy shoreline beds primarily along the South Shore. These
thickened up after you hit the upland (non-marsh) line, gradually affecting
both dies and almost filling the entire creek to the end of our voyage-
the point where we could go no further 75-45.56 and 38-13,32 most of the
Ruppia was in very good shape and flowering, though some smaller,
presumably immature patches were noted.
06/02/99 Peter Bergstrom, USFWS
Tangier Sound, Tedious creek, Rock Hall
Last week I visited Tangier Sound on 6/2 (on a CBF-led media trip) and
tedious Creek on 6/1, and David Sutherland (FWS) and several Corps staff
visited The Haven near Rock Hall (quad
20, Swan Point) on 6/2 to check SAV presence. Species abbreviations
are the ones from the VIMS survey. Species highlights include horned pondweed
(Zp) at all three sites in tangier Sound where we did crab scraping, and
sago pondweed (Ppc) at the southernmost site we scraped, in Virginia (Shanks
Island). Neither Zp nor Ppc have been recorded recently in the area, although
it was almost certainly there.
No sea nettles were seen at any site. Surface salinity ranged from 15
ppt at Bishops Head to 19 ppt at Shanks Isl, much higher than recent past
years in June except in 1995 which was the last low flow year. Salinities
at this time were about 8-9 ppt in 1998 (high flow). Kd (measured with
light meter) ranged from 1.1 m-1 in a large SAV bed in Back Cove, N side
Smith Island, to 1.8 at Bishops Head and Shanks Isl, and 2.0 at Ewell.
We used the better water clarity in the Back Cove bed (the Secchi disk
was clearly visible on the bottom at 0.8 m; at other sites Secchi depth
was 0.75-0.95 m) to show the reporters along how SAV improves water clarity.
Water temperatures ranged from 23-24 C in the more exposed sites (Zm stops
growing above 23 C) and 25-27 C in the harbor in Ewell.
1. Bishop's Head (CBF Karen Noonan Center, map
83) still has the patches of Zm and Rm next to the pier inside the
breakwater that Bob Orth mentioned in an earlier message, with some Zp.
We ran a seine through one of the Zm patches for a TV crew and caught juvenile
spot and blenny, and many grass shrimp. Away from the pier in the shallows
in the cove enclosed by the breakwater, there are larger beds of Rm and
some patches of Zm where it was planted last year by VIMS staff.
2. Tedious Creek (near mouth of Fishing Bay, around the peninsula from
Bishops Head, map
83): Griff Evans of ER&M planted about 1 acre of Rm & Zm here
on 7/8/98 on 18" centers, behind a new breakwater, as mitigation funded
by the Corps of Engineers (we discussed this at our 12/98 meeting). Bill
Street and I searched at least half of this area by snorkeling and by walking
with sandals (so you can feel any shoots longer than an inch or two on
your toes) and could not find any rooted SAV of any species. We found some
floating Zp. We found a small red mesh nylon bag (8 cm x 20 cm) containing
a rock; Griff said these were used to plant the Rm by putting a shoot in
the bag, tying the top with string, and pushing the rock down into the
sediment. Zm were planted by pushing the rhizome into the sediment. Secchi
depth was 0.9 m, salinity 16 ppt. Two possible reasons for the loss of
the planted SAV were sediments and crab scraping. We found a firm sandy
sediment, probably put there after construction of the nearby breakwater
to create an SAV planting area, but it was covered with 4-5 cm or more
of black mucky silt, apparently more silt than was there last summer. Many
of the marshes around Fishing Bay are eroding. Also, Griff said that there
were crab scrapers operating in the area when they planted, and one or
more of them may have mistaken the newly planted bed for an established
bed and scraped in it, which would have removed most of the plants since
they were unrooted. Regardless of why these beds disappeared, >>planted
beds in areas with crab scraping need to be posted as off limits to scraping
until they become established (for 2 years or more).
3. Pry Cove/South Marsh Island (map
91): We ran a crab scrape through a bare area and then through the
SAV bed in Pry Cove. In the bare area it brought up a few larger crabs
but it caught many more crabs in the SAV bed, mostly juveniles and peelers,
along with pipefish, small summer flounder, and a small eel. The reporters
noticed the difference. Most of the grass in the scrape was black (sloughed)
Zm leaves with a bit of live Rm; some Zp also came up in the scrape. No
commercial scrapers were in the area, but there were many peeler pots nearby.
4. Back Cove/Smith Island(maps 91
didn't scrape there but could see Zm and Rm and watched a commercial scraper
(who was extensively photographed); most of the grass in his scrape appeared
to be blackened Zm leaves.
5. Shanks Island (S of Tylerton, just across the state line in VA, map
99): Scraped in patchy SAV bed and got the same SAV (Rm, Zm, Zp) and
fish as at Pry Cove except we also got a naked goby and two diamondback
terrapins at Shanks, and found two pieces of a low, stunted form of sago
pondweed (Ppc) in the scrape, growing at 19 ppt (which is within the reported
range for this species in Kantrud's FWS literature review on Ppc). Mike
Naylor also examined it and said there is abundant Ppc in impoundments
on Deal Island, so there is a nearby seed source for this species, which
was recorded around Smith Island in the early 1970's in DNR ground surveys
but not in later surveys through 1990. Bill and I also walked and snorkeled
through the bed and to me it appeared to be mostly Zm with patches of Rm,
although the bottom was a bit soft. [Mike Harrison (FWS staff at Martin
NWR), whom we met in Ewell, had noticed that Zm tended to be found on firm
bottom, and he thought that one reason for its decline was that erosion
had increased the amount of soft bottom in the area, which he said had
Rm but not Zm.]
The Haven (near Rock Hall, map
20): Dave said they found same Ms and Ppf that I found there on Oct.
11 1996, except the Ppf seems to have spread, and they also found extensive
Ec (Elodea) growing as deep as 10-11', detectable only by snorkeling since
some of it was too short to come up on a rake. We found some Ec in Rock
Hall harbor in 1996 but not in the Haven, although we didn't snorkel.
05/28/99 Bob Orth, VIMS
SAV Aerial Update #1 - May 28, 1999 - Flown May 22
Flightlines Flown on May 22 - lines 91 through 105, 139, 140, and 141.
Flight lines 91 through 105, 139, 140, 141, which include all areas
along the western shore of the lower bay from the lower James River to
the Horn Harbor area just above New Point Comfort on Mobjack Bay, also
Broad Bay, Lynnhaven River and Little Creek, and the eastern Shore from
Old Plantation Creek to Nassawadox Creek, and includes the Fisherman's
James River - SAV only in the section along the north shore from
the Monitor Merrimac bridge tunnel (except for the small bed adjacent to
the shipyard just upriver from the tunnel) to the Hampton Roads bridge
tunnel - very sparse but still present at some locations and at large bed
at the Veteran's Hospital still persists (transplants at Monitor Merrimac
bridge tunnel site is doing very well, but the 1996 sites at the mouth,
esp. at mouth, esp. at Strawberry Banks, appear to have been influenced
by the 1998 spring runoff).
Lower York River, Mobjack Bay, Poquoson Flats area, including Back
and Poquoson rivers - the hotbed of SAV in the lower Bay - is still
in good shape. However, offshore portions of beds at Guinea Marshes and
Goodwin Islands at mouth of York River and the large, offshore shoal area
of the Poquoson Flats are very patchy this year. Upriver portions of beds
esp. at Gloucester Pt. also extremely patchy. The same is true for many
upriver beds in the Ware and North rivers of the Mobjack Bay (all may have
been influenced, in part, by high spring flows in 1998).
Broad Bay - SAV present in a narrow fringe in generally the same
areas as previous years
Little Creek - SAV patchy near the mouth in a bed that was much
denser in previous years. Further up, SAV is expanding in the same general
area of one of our transplant sites, which is also doing very well.
Lynnhaven River - no SAV except in our transplant site inshore
of the oyster reef planted by VMRC.
South of Cape Charles to Nassawadox Creek - 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 but others appear much reduced
and very patchy.
NOTE: We expect to complete the lower Bay this weekend (up to the Honga).
I will be out of the country until June 21 so if you have any questions,
please get in touch with either Dave
Wilcox or Judy Nowak.
05/21/99 Peter Bergstrom, USFWS
Magothy/Severn SAV ground survey update Magothy (map 24):
I visited Cornfield Creek and James Pond near Gibson Island by canoe
on Friday 5/21 at low tide. Water was unusualy clear, Secchi 1.6 m at mouth
of the creek, salinity (refractometer) 8 ppt farther up the creek, where
Secchi was 1.2 m, good for that location in May. We covered the E shore
of Cornfield which had two nearly continuous beds mapped in 1998 (IA4
and JA4). We found Rm, Ppf and Zp with a bit of Ms close to the mouth
of the creek. (The Ppc, Va, and Ec found in that bed in past years are
probably there but too short to be seen yet. The CBF workshop will visit
it again on June 8.) As we moved up the creek the Rm and Ppf dropped out
until only Ms and Zp were left at the upper end of the IA4 bed (Milburn
marina and small cove). The Zp was all the prostrate form, fairly green
and clean. In James Pond the Secchi was >1.1 m and we found Zp, Ms and
Ppf on left and right shores, nothing along the back shore, but didn't
find any of the Ec, Va, Ppc or N found there in past years (again, probably
Blackhole Creek, Magothy River on 5/21 had natural Rm, Zp and Ppf in
a cove in the outer section of the creek. Ppf and Zp had flowers but not
Rm, all almost to surface. None of the planted Rm, Ppc or Ppf (planted
last June) was found but the tide was high; will check again later. Salinity
7 ppt, Secchi 0.95 m, Secchi was about average for that creek.
I'll do a more extensive Magothy survey with Bud Jenkins soon.
Severn River had 2 large beds of Horned pondweed in the upper reaches,
in shallow coves on 5/21. Most were the tall form and were very heavily
loaded with epiphytes and sediment. Secchi depth 1.05 m, salinity 10 ppt.
I visited Brewer
Creek and nearby areas on the Severn River on 5/27/99 for SAV press
event. Brewer Creek (little John marina) had tall form Zp to surface as
in past years. Rm, Zp and Ppf were found near Sherwood Forest main pier
(mostly Rm); Ppf and Zp had flowers but not Rm; Zp was tall form. Salinity
8-10 ppt, Secchi depth 1.25 m (salinity higher than normal, Secchi about
average). Visited a sandy shoal which is across the tiny channel leading
to Asquith Creek from the large bed, where we found same 3 species starting
to colonize, between the channel and the shoreline. Brewer Pond had prostrate
Zp. On the way back to Brewer Creek we checked the shoreline between the
main pier and Brewer Point, where a large bed was mapped in 97 and 98 with
Rm, Ppf, and Zp, but did not find any grass (I walked the boat along the
shore for a while).
Rm and Ppf in these rivers are a bit taller than usual for this time
of year, in spite of the generally cool spring. Extent of SAV seems about
the same as last year so far; Secchi depths recently were better than average
or about average, salinity much higher than average. In Magothy monitoring
I have done at these sites, surface salinities in May were 4-6 ppt in the
one "average flow" year (1997), much lower in the high flow years (near
2 ppt in 93, 94, 96, and 98) and a bit lower in the last low flow spring,
May 95 (6-7 ppt) compared to the 7-8 ppt found this May. So, get ready
for sea nettles (although none have been spotted in the patuxent yet as
far as I know).
05/21/99 Bob Orth, VIMS
SAV Ground Survey Update - Friday May 21
Observer - Bob Orth
Location - South Marsh and Bloodsworth Islands and lower Honga River
1030 - 1500 hrs (low tide approx. 1400 hrs). CBF staff Loni Moore piloted
their boat. All observations noted with GPS.
Conditions - Outstanding - winds N 10 or less most of the day, water
clarity very good considering it was blowing 20-25 NW the day before. Could
see the bottom in 4-5 ft of water. Salinity 19 ppt taken at 1500 hrs at
the CBF facility at Bishops Had .
ISLAND- checked area in Sheepshead Harbor and found very healthy and
flowering widgeongrass. This area is just south of Pry Cove and the area
that Dan checked that had the bed of eelgrass. This bed was not mapped
in 1998 and 1997 but was mapped in 1996 (G1).
ISLAND - widgeongrass present (flowering) in numerous small patches
along the east side of the island.
Northeast Cove - south end of island. Located extremely patchy widgeongrass
and horned pondweed.
Okahanikan Cove - patchy widgeongrass along south part of cove changing
rapidly midway to very dense widgeongrass all the way to the north end.
I had Loni pull me behind the boat with a rope so I could cover more area
snorkeling. I only saw one very small patch of eelgrass, so I'd say tis
bed was pre-dominantly widgeongrass.
- time was running short so we went only up to Duck Point Cove and transited
the cove to Crab Point checking many of the 1998 beds. Snorkeled over dense
widgeongrass looking for any signs of eelgrass and found none. It appears
there is more widgeongrass in 1999 than in 1998.
Finished ground surveying in the cove just up from the CBF facility
at Bishop's Head. Very dense widgeongrass much of which was flowering.
Water very clear!
CBF Boat Harbor at Bishops Head had several dense patches of eelgrass
on both sides of the dock raging from approx. 0.5 sq. m. to 4 sq. m. Counted
6 eelgrass patches to left of dock (looking out at the Honga) and 10 patches
to right of dock (a number of these sparse patches had been planted in
the fall of 1998). Noted reproductive shoots in the patches on both sides
of the dock. Also noted widgeongrass in numerous patches to right of dock.
BOTTOM LINE - it appears from what I saw on Friday that there was more
SAV in these locations this year than last.
PS: Acquisition phase of 1999 program began Sat. Air Photographaics
commenced their photography with 24 lines completed in a morning window.
I should be receiving the photos tomorrow.
05/10/99, Mike Naylor, Maryland DNR
SAV in Sinepuxent
Lee Karrh, Monica Horan and I traveled to Sinepuxent Bay Monday May
10th to do some diving and filming in the eelgrass beds there. The bed
we spent our time in (pg.
266, bed T4 of 1997 book) was thick and lush, with uncountable numbers
of reproductive shoots releasing seeds as we watched. Some clam scars were
visible, many of which had eelgrass recruits and 4-6" Ruppia sprouts
in them. If the beds elsewhere in the Coastal Bays are doing half as well,
hopefully we will see continued expansion despite the intense clamming
activity last winter.
In and around Long Creek (directly east of Hart Miller Island in Rocky
Point Park) yesterday, Vallisneria, Hydrilla, P. crispus and Myriophyllum
were already up and growing.
EvaMaria Koch, Univ. of Md., Horn Point
Chincoteague Bay - April 26, 1999
I was in Chincoteague yesterday. The visibility was HORRIBLE but I was
able to see a lot of Zostera at Mills
Island as well as in that big bed just south of the state line. Everything
is flowering/seeding. The vegetation looks very healthy!
Dan Stotts, USGS BRD
Honga River and Bloodsworth Island - April 26, 1999
Wind 15-20, very choppy in unprotected waters. Tar Bay very turbid.
No SAV noted. Dark spots on bottom identified as depressions probably created
by waterfowl. These depressions had filled up with dark detrital matter.
Had little time to expend on ground truthing. Ran the length of the Honga,
making a minimal number of stops. Secchi readings as follows:
Threw the rake twice at Bed "N4"
1998 and brought up abundant Rm. Bed in the vicinity of "J3"
looks extensive. Would not have stopped along the shore of Parks Neck,
and D1, if there had not been 31 mutes feeding on the site. 4 tosses
of the rake in a limited area brought up abundant Zm with some Rm. Zm shoots
with seeds present. Water was choppy, "murky green", with a probable micro
algal bloom. Couldn't see grass; threw rake into the darkest of the patches,
therefore shorter Rm may be more abundant than noted. Again, we spent little
time on the site. GPS coordinates are 381858.87, 761006.36. Will have to
We expended far more time and effort at Bloodsworth. Wind was blowing
straight into the cove, so all we could see were dark patches. Starting
at the SW tip of the bed we worked east and north to the far end of the
bed. We threw the rake at ~ 100-150m intervals, zigzagging across the bed
checking inshore, mid-bed, and outer perimeter sites. The only Zm noted
was a few bright green leaves in our first grab at the SW tip of the bed.
All other grabs brought up lush 4" Rm. Also of note; there were no mutes
at the site, and small crabs were brought up in most grabs.
Secchi readings and my own impressions indicate that groundtruthing
would be relatively easy in the Honga at this time given the proper boat,
tide, wind and sun. The few beds noted last year could probably be done
by one boat in 1+ days. If relatively clear water persists unknown beds
could be detected visually from a center console boat. The whole river
could be covered in short order.
Dan Stotts, USGS BRD
Eastern Bay Report - April 24 & 25, 1999
Winds NW 20-25, below normal tide, decided to forgo Bloodsworth. Sago
Creek at surface in 3 ft. of water. Plants exhibit the "wide, tape-like
" leaf form. Milfoil only 8" tall at most. Sago at
and Narrow Pt. also exhibiting considerable coverage of wide leaf form
but not to comparable height(4-12"). Sago at Narrow Pt.(Parsons Narrows)
currently growing in deeper water than last year.
Test Ppf plantings at mouth of Greenwood
Crk. are up ~1.5". Placed 18" square wire mesh over some of these plants
last November to impede waterfowl herbivory. In nearly every case now,
the limits of the visible growth are defined by the wire. Noted significant
"cratering" of this area last month indicating waterfowl activity. Currently
the Rm in the shallows appears to be regenerating via seed, offshore via
perennial rootmat. May help explain the absence of nearshore SAV growth
in historical photos from spring period. May also help explain the ephemeral
nature of SAV beds restricted to nearshore areas in the smaller tribs.
by poor water quality.
Ppf test plots in mid Greenwood Crk. are also up ~1.5", or same height
as natural beds at Eastern Neck NWR, Warehouse Crk, and K.I. Yacht Club.
Natural Ppf plants in the Wye
below the bridge are up ~3", as are the test plots on the open river shore.
The protected cove plantings were not readily visible due to excessive
turbidity caused by alien mute swan. Bottom offshore from site is covered
with a thick mat of brown and green filamentous algae. Likewise the cove
across the river planted by DNR has a similar coating of algae. Only one
of the marker stakes still exists. I did not venture too close to avoid
stepping on the plantings(if they exist). Saw sparse Rm in vicinity poking
through tha algae. The heads of Piney,
Crks. also have algal mats. We first noted algae in Cox Crk a month ago.
These observations, indicate that major losses may occur very early in
the season, and indicate the necessity for early monitoring. The DNR site
also harbors a pair of mutes, but they may not be nesting(no defensive/offensive
Found 3 SAV beds not defined last year. One below the bridge appears
to be all Zp and extends an estimated 80 yards offshore. The Ppf in the
area is restricted to nearshore. The other 2 beds, one Zp, and other Zp/Rm
mix were located by "following the plant fragments" to flocks of 51 and
16 mutes respectively. The beds were east of channel markers 1 and 3 along
the Wye Is.
shore. Both beds held lush green plants but are being smoothered by mats
of green and brown algae. These sites are relatively exposed, having 1/2
mile fetches from the SW or NW. Unfortunately, I didn't have a PLGR unit.
There were 85 mutes in the tidal river at Bennett
Pt. with at least 100 more in one of the ponds. In addition, there
were several "free-ranging" alien chinese geese and at least one alien
black swan in the tidal river.
Wind died some, but not early enough to make a trip to Bloodsworth.
Still regret not having a PLGR. Took secchi readings at select sites. Believe
it or not , difficult to find water deep enough in some locations for reading:
Greenwood Crk. mouth- 2.5 meters
Wye River- Bruffs Is. 2.0 m
W. of Bridge 0.9!!!! m
Wye Landing 0.5!!!! m
Granary Crk. 1.3 m
Tilghman Pt.- 2.8 m
Romancoke- 3.0 m
Warehouse Crk.(RVT)- 1.9 m
Marshy Crk.- 1.8 m
Some of the Ppf test plots which did not show any emergence were excavated
to see if they were planted too deeply. These were planted in late November
after being recovered from wrack materials that had been excavated by feeding
Canada geese. "Fists full" of rhizomes, apical shoots, and scenescent stems
with leaves were reburied using a shovel and covered with a 18" square
piece of wire. Shoots recovered from these plots in February and planted
in a jar at room temperature sprouted. However the field tests were apparently
buried too deeply. Believe only one test plot survives in an area along
Pt. shore with a 6 mile westerly fetch, where Rm has been trying to
gain a hold over the last 3 years. Believe that Ppf, Ppc, and Zm root systems
a better (than Rm) choice for this area. Perennial Rm root/rhizome system
noted as being "at the surface" after period of winter exposure, and sediment
transport. Still believe the approach is sound, but modify planting technique(among
other things, need a dry suit next time!).
Revisited the Wye River sites and took pictures of algae. Mutes still
Additional 43 mutes noted at SW
Turkey Pt.(E.Bay) in mixed Ppc/Rm. Very short Ppc may not be obvious
at this point in growing season, but believe most Ppc significantly taller
and more rebust wide leaf structure makes it easily distinguishable from
Rm at some distance with the naked eye.
Still no obvious SAV in Romancoke
area. I was wrong in my observation that clam dredge scars "fillin" rapidly
and become indistinguishable from the surrounding bottom in "former" Rm
beds. Water clarity was excellent and trenches were quite visible. Holes
and trenches are made apparent by their filling in with dark colored detrital
matter. In addition, in the absence of trenches, I believe excessive quantities
of clam shell lying on the surface is a telltale sign of excavation. Scarring
is most obvious immediately south of Philpots
Is. where I have not made direct observations of clammers.
The breeding black ducks and terns have been driven off of Bodkin
Is. I only saw one male mallard. They have been replaced by a considerable
number of herring gulls, cormorants, and great black backed gulls...and
a pair of mute swans. The snowy and cattle egrets are holding there own
but I saw no other waders. There are still a few scaup, bufflehead, whitewing
and surf scoters in Eastern Bay.
The hilite of the day was discovering Rm ~3/4 miles off the KI shore
in 1.5 m water (~high tide) at Bodkin Is. It may have been decades since
SAV was documented there (anyone know?), but of course we aren't generally
looking for it this early. It may not survive the spring/summer algal blooms.
Dredge scars of unknown vintage are present nearby.
Peter Bergstrom, USFWS
Tangier Sound and Md. Eastern Shore - March 30, 1999
I flew over Tangier Sound and other parts of MD Eastern shore (and a
bit of VA) on Tuesday 3/30 with Jan Keough and Dan Day, USGS PWRC who were
looking for study sites for a mute swan exclosure study and a food web
study, and Dept. of Interior pilot Jim Wortham. The air and water were
both very clear so we could see SAV beds in several places from about 1000'
elevation. We couldn't be sure that what we saw was eelgrass, but from
Bloodsworth south most of the SAV looked green, thus in active growth and
probably eelgrass. We saw some patches that were more green-brown which
could have been overwintering Widgeongrass. I got photos of some but not
all of the beds mentioned.
Eastern Neck Island and Chester River: lots of clam boats and swans
seen, including small circles that seemed to be made by the swans in one
cove, but no SAV visible.
Eastern Bay: No SAV seen but we weren't looking closely, probably was
Choptank/Broad Creek (quad 043
and adjacent maps): Some SAV visible, darker green or brownish, most likely
widgeongrass. Jan and Dan will make a boat trip there soon and will ground
truth the area.
Tedious Creek/Bishop's Head: saw new breakwater at mouth of Tedious
Creek, no sign of the SAV planted next to it last summer (Rm and Zm). Plan
ground visit later. Didn't get close enough to Bishop's Head to look for
Bloodsworth Isl (quad 083):
The one bed in Okahanikan Cove (A4 in 97 map, D4 in 98 map) was clearly
visible and looked healthy, about the same size as was mapped last year.
Looked bright green (probably eelgrass).
South Marsh Island (quad 091
Kedges Straits): The one bed S of Johnson Pt in Pry Cove (97 bed B3, 98
bed A3) looked a bit smaller than was mapped in 98, looked bright green
(Dan Stotts ground truthed this as eelgrass in 2/99).
Smith Island northern tip (same map as previous): the eelgrass bed in
Back Cove showed up very well, bright green, bed D3 in 1998; the bed in
the outer part of the cove in 1998 (E1) was not visible and may be widgeongrass
coming up later.
Smith Island Tylerton area (Ewell quad 099):
beds south of Tylerton (H2 1997, N2 and adjacent beds 1998) were bright
green and thus may contain eelgrass (were ground truthed as widgeongrass,
Rm in 1997). Large bed south of there (B4 1997, B4 1998) also appeared
to be eelgrass, as well as the beds around Tangier Island.
Fox Island (Quad 100):
grass visible around pier at CBF education center and bright green, appeared
to be eelgrass, lots of other grass visible nearby.
If only the water were always as clear as it was that day!!
Dan Stotts, USGS BRD
Eastern Bay - March 20, 1999
The eelgrass at Hambleton Pt. has totally vanished. Arrived on a below
normal tide with ~clear calm water. Spent an hour traversing the area from
Hambleton Cove, west to the mouth of Porter Creek. Searched every dark
spot on the bottom but found nothing but rocks, not even widgeongrass.
This is particularly distressing since the eelgrass has theoretically existed
there since at least 1987 when Jim Casey found it. Possible that this population
has maintained itself through stressful periods via adequate annual/periodic
seed production? Should seedlings have been evident, Bob?
The areas around Romancoke (where clammers had worked) and Batts Neck still
bare. However, the west shore of Turkey Pt., east and west shores of Crab
Alley Bay, east and southeast Parsons Is., and east shore of Prospect Bay
all show moderate coverage of widgeon and sago from last fall's growth(?)
(2-12in. tall). Brought up numerous amphipods, mussels, etc. associated
with the veg.
Saw numerous "clay balls" resting on the silt/sand surface at Turkey Pt.
I've noted this phenomenon one other time, in the Chester River in 7 ft.
of water, where we brought up large quantities of unconsolidated clay balls
within yards of a clam line buoy.
Sago in marshy Creek was ~1ft. tall. This population displayed it's atypical
wide leaved growth form once again. Interesting that later in the growing
season this bed will be replaced by the typical bushy form. Difficult to
tell if the plants were actually growing. Seems far too early but these
plants were "clean" and healthy looking, unlike those at Parson's which
showed much barnacle etc. This population does beat the milfoil to the
surface, and last year at least, was successful in setting seed before
being overwhelmed. The bottom was covered with "old" recumbent milfoil.
Just about every species of dabbler short of bluewings was present. No
redheads, but many scaup, cans, and ruddys.
Oldsquaw, scaup, surf scoters, and bufflehead most numerous in Eastern
Pairs of mutes have dispersed all over the creeks and bay shores. Did not
bother to count supposed breeders but did note flocks; 135 east shore of
Crab Alley Bay, 53 east shore of Parson's Is., 300 mixed mute and tundras
east shore of Prospect Bay, and 37 feeding squarely on top of our planted
transect near mouth of Greenwood Creek. Did not approach the epicenter
of mute activity at Bennett Pt. where the landowner has fed up to ~700
lbs. of corn/day.....at least during the winter......
Bottom at the head of Cox Creek just below Rt. 50 covered with filagreen
Secchi in Marshy Creek .8 meters, 1.3 at Parsons Is. narrows. Water very
green in color. Filagreen forming on pilings etc. in Greenwood Creek.
Approached Bodkin Is. which continues to erode at an increasing pace, ~<1/2
acre now. Only 3 pairs of Mallards and no black ducks on the shore. Would
have expected more given the warm weather. Possible the ducks are being
displaced by waders, terns, gulls, and possibly cormorants(?). All have
effected the dense cover required for successful duck nesting. Was harassed
by ~12 herring gulls which appeared territorial.
No Zannichellia noted.
Dan Stotts, USGS BRD
Smith Island Area - February 11, 1999
Spent the better part of the last 2 weeks at Smith Is. Wind and fog
hampered our endeavors to seek out SAV. The spring weather nixed our duck
trapping success. Ducks are all paired and thinkin about sex; corn just
isn't enough. Roses have put out 4" shoots, camelias are blooming, several
species of waders have appeared, as well as oyster catchers. Expected to
see an osprey but saw none.
Only got out on one day (Feb. 11) to look at SAV. Peter faxed the maps
for 96-98, Mike Harrison, Perry Barboza and I visited most of the recognized
beds between Terripan Sand, Fog Pt., and the S. shore of Bloodsworth. We
did not have a GPS unit so I will indicate areas searched by map, bed,
and year. Winds were brisk, Suboptimal for a jonboat trip from Smith-Bloodsworth.
Waters were "roiled", a term used extensively by John Steenis in the 1960's.
Smith Islanders just refer to the water as being "thick".
bed C3- 1996- from Northeast Is. to Adams then South>>> No SAV. A large
flock of swan (sp.?) was noted along the Pone Is. shore but unapproachable
due to shallow water. This area noted (from air) holding hundreds of mutes
during summers past. Secchi= 1.4m
bed I2(96), C1(97), B1(98)>>> No SAV. Secchi= 1.4. Both Mike Harrison and
I have noted eelgrass at this site sometime over the last 3 years. If present
today, it must be extremely sparse.
bed K1(96), C2(98)>>> No SAV. Secchi= .9m. Bottom was visibly mottled from
the boat, but rake only brought up "moss" and old detrital eelgrass that
had settled into the pitted substrate created by feeding waterfowl.
bed L3(96), E1(97+98)>>> Extensive eelgrass, bright green shoots up to
6" long, biomass dominated by last fall's senescent leaves and "moss".
Secchi= 1.4m (inside bar), 1.7m (outside bar), numerous waterfowl of several
species present, including mutes.
bed B3(96), F2(97), D3(98)>>> Ditto Above
bed A3(96), E1(97)>>> No SAV. Secchi 1.4m. Not searched thoroughly, lotsa
The only widgeongrass noted was drift in creeks or in our duck traps.
All was dark in color; probably last fall's growth uprooted by waterfowl.
Mike said that extensive fall growth of wigeongrass along the Drum Pt.
shore of Smith Is. had been removed by waterfowl. Extensive wigeongrass
coverage can still be noted in places like Eastern Bay. Water clarity in
Eastern Bay, at present, is probably at least as clear as Tangier Sound.
One should spend time with people like Mike's father (age 86), and listen
to the stories. He used to scrape "out to the channel" into what he figured
was 15-20 ft. of water. Crabbers never had to retrace the same path twice.
Carl Tyler says that they had to hunt for bare bottom in waters 10 ft.
deep in which to place crab pots. Pots placed in thick grass didn't catch