Monitoring > Field Observations > 1999
1999 Field Observations and a First Look at the Aerial Photography
  • 09/23/99 Bob Orth, VIMS - SAV Aerial Update #9 (Little Choptank River, Tripp & Brannock Bays, South Choptank River, Upper Rappahannock River)
  • 08/29/99 Peter Bergstrom, USFWS - Magothy River
  • 08/29/99 Chris Tanner, St. Mary's College of Md. - St. Mary's River
  • 08/25/99 Bob Orth, VIMS - SAV Aerial Update #8 (Potomac, West, Rhode, South, Severm. and Magothy Rivers)
  • 08/24/99 Bob Orth, VIMS - Rappahannock River
  • 08/17/99 Chris Tanner, St. Mary's College of Md. - St. Mary's River
  • 08/13/99 Adam Rottman, DC Fisheries - Wilson Bridge Mat
  • 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 SAV
  • 08/03/99 Bob Orth, VIMS - SAV Aerial Update #5 (Coastal Bays)
  • 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 River
  • 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, Va.)
  • 06/27/99 Peter Bergstrom, USFWS - Queenstown Creek, Chester River, Galloway Creek, Middle River, Dundee Creek, Gunpowder River
  • 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 Bed
  • 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)
  • 05/10/99 Mike Naylor, MD DNR - SAV in Sinepuxent
  • 05/05/99 EvaMaria Koch, Univ. of Md, Chincoteague Bay
  • 04/26/99 Dan Stotts, USGS BRD, Honga River and Bloodsworth Island
  • 04/24/99 Dan Stotts, USGS BRD, Eastern Bay
  • 03/30/99 Peter Bergstrom, USFWS - Tangier Sound and Md. Eastern Shore
  • 03/20/99 Dan Stotts, USGS BRD, Eastern Bay
  • 02/11/99 Dan Stotts, USGS BRD, Smith Island Area

09/23/99 Bob Orth, VIMS

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)


SAV appears abundant in Brooks, Hudson, Back, Phillips and Beckwith creeks and Little Choptank River (Quad 51, 52). The 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 51)


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 52). 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.


One small bed of SAV adjacent to a marsh at Horse Head Pt. up from Leedstown (Quad 200) - 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.


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 m).

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 surprisingly lush!


(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. 19.

(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 & 24, 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 since 1991.

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 of Maryland

St. Mary's River (quads 80, 89)

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

Lines 72, 73, 74 (flown 7/28/99); lines 76, 76B, 118, 120, 133 (flown 8/17/99)


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, 68)

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 67).

Nanjemoy Creek - WOW! Impressive growth throughout the creek along both shores! (Quads 56, 57)

Wicomico River - SAV present in basically in same locations as in 1998 - beds appear very dense (Quads 58, 67, 68).

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 66)

Rosier and Goldman creeks - SAV same as in past years (dense) (Quads 66, 67)


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 30)

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, 24).

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 of Maryland

St. Mary's River SAV (Summer 1999; quad 80)

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 July.

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.

08/13/99 Adam Rottman, DC Fisheries

Wilson Bridge Mat (quad 34)

One of the most unusual things this year is the very low percentage of 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 Rivers

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 Ceratophyllum, 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 Creek. However, 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 and 201):
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, 26, 27, 32, and 33)

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, 37, 43, 44, and 45)

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 37, 44) 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, 173, 174, 175) still 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, 168, 170) 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, 168)continue 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


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, 89). Noted 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, 89)

St. Clements Bay - SAV very abundant and very dense once again in the lower portion along both shores (quads 69, 78).

Breton Bay - patchy SAV in locations noted in 1998 (bed down from Protestant Pt. Is now very dense) (quads 69, 78).

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, 87)

Nomini Creek - mostly dense beds in lower portions and esp. in Buckner Creek.(quads 78, 87)

07/30/99, Bill Street, Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Tedious Creek and Potomac SAV Hunt

Tedious Creek (quad 83)

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 those areas.

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, Maryland DNR

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 preliminary.

Water conditions: salinity10ppt, water temp mid 80's (estimate), secchi depth 2.5 ft

Location - Long Creek (Back River mouth) (quads 13 and 19) 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 High School.

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, 33, 36, 37)

There were some quite interesting patterns this year and were quite site specific:

Miles River (quads 36 and 37) - 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 and 37) - 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 and 36) 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 Neck.

Parsons Isl. (quads 32and 33)- beds are very dense and quite impressive, esp. along the eastern side of the island!.

Wye R. (quads 33 and 37) - 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, 37, 43, 44, 45)

Harris Creek (quads 36 and 43) - 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 and 37) - 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 and 45) - 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, 32, 33) 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 field observations.

07/13/99, Lee Karrh, Monica Horan, and Tom Parham, Maryland DNR

Eastern Bay ground truthing

Parsons Island (quads 32and 33) - 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 preliminary.

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 24).

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, 101). 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 (quad 84). Large, dense bed in Laws Thoroughfare with numerous linear scars (clam dredging impacts???).

Fishing Bay - Tedious Creek - (flight lines 12) an area behind the breakwater on the north side of creek appears to have some SAV - not noted last year (quad 83) (reference Peter's field notes of June 5 for this area as he has indicated he found no SAV).

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, 74). Beds have reappeared around Barren Island and in Tar Bay (quads 72, 73). There 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 Island.

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, 91)- patchy 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, 92, 99, 100, 107)- 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, 101, 108, 109) Beds 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 in 1998.

Rappahannock River (flight lines 87 a,b,c,d, 88) (quads 110, 111, 116, 117, 118) 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, 112) SAV 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, 113, 114, 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 97, QA4 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 light metric.

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 SAV beds.

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 97, PA4 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

Wetipquin Creek

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, map 164). 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), 1997 (B3), 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 sign.

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 (maps 30 & 31)to the south has only two species recorded recently, Zp and Rm, although Ppf was ground truthed in Glebe Bay in 1978.

SAV distribution

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

Coastal Bays

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 light penetration.

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

Monie Bay

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.

Water quality:

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.

Tangier Sound:

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 & 92): 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 Island area.

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 too early).

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 (maps 23, 24, and 31):

Spa Creek, 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).

Overall impressions:

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).

Peter Bergstrom

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 .

SOUTH MARSH 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).

HOLLAND 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.

HONGA RIVER - 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. Very Impressive.

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:

  • Marker 17- 1.4 meters
  • Wroten Is. Narrows- 1.5m
  • E. side Parks Neck, eelgrass bed- 1.5m
  • Marker 6- 1.8m
  • Bloodsworth SAV bed, "D4"1998- 1.5m
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, between H3 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 check datum.

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 in Marshy Creek at surface in 3 ft. of water. Plants exhibit the "wide, tape-like " leaf form. Milfoil only 8" tall at most. Sago at Parsons 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, and Cox 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 behavior).

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 the Bennett 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 present.

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 some visible.

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 SAV nearby.

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!!

Peter Bergstrom

Dan Stotts, USGS BRD

Eastern Bay - March 20, 1999

  1. 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?
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Oldsquaw, scaup, surf scoters, and bufflehead most numerous in Eastern Bay.
  6. 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/ least during the winter......
  7. Bottom at the head of Cox Creek just below Rt. 50 covered with filagreen algal mat.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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".

Map 083- bed D2- 1996>>> No SAV. Secchi= 0.8m

Map 083- 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

Map 083- bed B3- 1996>>> No SAV. Secchi= 1.4m

Map 091- bed C2- 1996>>> Not Searched

Map 091- bed D1(96), A2(97)>>> No SAV.

Map 091- bed E1(96), B3(97), A3(98)>>> Extensive eelgrass, bright green shoots up to 6" long, biomass dominated by last fall's senescent leaves and "moss"(for lack of a better term?). Mutes present.

Map 091- bed F2(96)>>> No SAV. Secchi= 1.3m

Map 091- bed H2(96)>>> Not Searched

Map 091- bed J1(96), D1(97)>>> No Sav

Map 091- bed G1(96)>>> No SAV

Map 091- 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.

Map 091- 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.

Map 091- 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.

Map 092- bed B3(96), F2(97), D3(98)>>> Ditto Above

Map 092- bed A3(96), E1(97)>>> No SAV. Secchi 1.4m. Not searched thoroughly, lotsa stumps!

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 crabs.