The redhead grass in Rays Pond continues to invade the milfoil (the
pond has gone from 20% redhead/80% milfoil to 90% redhead/10% milfoil).
There is a small but robust patch of sago pondweed on the west side of
St. Helena Island, in Little Round Bay. A friend who rows in Luce Creek reports that the redhead grass there this year was thicker than ever, mostly on the north side of the creek (following the pattern I saw this year). The entire shoreline of Aisquith Creek had continuous redhead this
year (it was spotty last year, especially at the headwaters).
Tom Parham and I surveyed the length of shoreline between Middle River and Back
River including Long Creek and Browns Cove, and the west side of Hart-Miller
Island on 10/21/03. Vallisneria and Myriophyllum were present along the entire
reach of shoreline from Long Creek to Middle River, with concentrations of
Vallisneria most heavy in the southernmost portion of Browns Cove and the
north/east side of Long Creek at the Bay Grasses in Classes planting site. Mixed
Vallisneria and Potamogeton perfoliatus were present in the breakwaters along
Hart-Miller Island. Seed pods on the Vallisneria were largely gone, possibly the
result of numerous Mallards and 22 Mute Swans seen feeding in the beds.
We did get out yesterday (10/20) at Jug Bay. Most of the Hydrilla in the mainstem
of the Patuxent had already died back. Large rafting mats were present
throughout the mainstem. However, up in the creeks the Hydrilla was still
looking quite green, healthy and intact...it was producing tubers as
expected. We found mostly Hydrilla with occasional Ceratophyllum demersum, Najas guadalupensis and sparse Najas minor (primarily
Yesterday (10/9), we checked those 2002 eelgrass test plots of both adult
plants and seeds by Gull Marsh and were excited to see that 3 of the 4 sites
still had plants (plants at that fourth site by the Hole In the Wall were lost
much earlier probably due to the much more shallower and shelly nature of that
site. This is GREAT NEWS!! We can now move forward with the establishment of
larger plots near each of those three sites since our criteria for larger
scale projects depends on the survival of test plots for a minimum of one
year! And the potential habitat near those test plots are large! We will begin
broadcasting seeds Monday and have chosen a design that puts seeds in large
1/2 acre rings and 1/2 square plot. Seeds will be sown in the ring portion
only but spread evenly throughout the 1/2 acre plot.
We also checked some of the smaller plots in South Bay and a single acre
site in Cobb Bay. Eelgrass looked in excellent health wherever we went, so it
appears eelgrass (and most of our pvc pipes) in those coastal bays had
weathered Isabel just fine!
Andrea, Jill and I went out today (10/10) looking for Vallisneria
seeds and didn't find much. Unfortunately, due to time constraints...we only
made it to the Elk and about halfway up the Bohemia River. Water clarity was
marginal in the Elk and slightly better in the Bohemia. Unfortunately, we
forgot our secchi disk but I'd estimate that secchi depth's were 0.5-0.75m
through much of the Elk and closer to a meter in the Bohemia. I'm not familiar
with either river so i don't know how that compares but plants were well
visible even at high tide.
As for Vallisneria seeds, we didn't find much, one good bed in the
Bohemia. In talking with some of the fishermen out there, it appeared as
though many of the Vallisneria beds had disappeared...possibly due to
the storm? They pointed out sites that were vegetated before the hurricane yet
we couldn't find much there when we checked them. Not sure what to make of it.
As far as Vallisneria seeds...most seeds were still pretty light
green although we did find a few handfuls of ripe seeds. However, grazing
pressure by Canadian geese appeared to be quite strong as we saw 30-50 geese
in each of the coves we were told had dense grass prior to the storms. The one
dense Vallisneria bed we were able to harvest from in the Bohemia had
been heavily grazed...many half eaten seed pods and it looked like someone
took a lawn mower to the grass bed itself. I really have never seen such a
strong indication of grazing.
My guess is if you haven't flown areas in the upper bay already, future
flights this year would underestimate cover, particularly of Vallisneria.
Myriophyllum was still very evident as usual but Vallisneria
beds were definitely senescing if not gone in some areas (based on anecdotal
comments from fisherman and our site checks) and Hydrilla looked as
though it was beginning to die back and raft.
I got up into the Spesutie Island Narrows this morning (10/9) and obtained
some initial data for up there. I was able to map most of the western shore
from Mulberry point north almost to the causeway in the time I had. From
Mulberry point to the boat launch in the middle, roughly 0.86 miles, the
fringe of the bed was between 50 and 75 m off shore with about 90% cover, most
of that Hydrilla and Myriophyllum, there were small pockets of Vallisneria
here and there. On a 0.7 mile run from the launch north to the causeway I
found basically the same with a slightly higher concentration of Myriophyllum.
I circled two very dense patches and one was 2.6 acres and the other was 6.9
acres. But all in all it was basically the entire western shore of the narrows
full of Hydrilla and at our sampling location in the middle of the
narrows we had secchi depth of 0.9 m and near the beds plants were reaching
the surface at depths up to 1.5 meters.
From what I was told from some APG folks who flew looking for shoreline
damage, they were seeing plants everywhere.
We were collecting sediment at Mattawoman Creek and measured secchi in the
creek by Sweden Pt. marina this am (=75cm). The plants at our 2 sample sites
were fine, similar to before Isabel. Dense beds were visible all along shore
10/06/03 Bob Orth, VIMS
Lower Bay and Coastal Bays
Last week we made observations of SAV in the lower Bay both from the air as
well as on the water.
LOW LEVEL AERIAL SURVEY
We flew on Wed., Oct. 1, over the lower James River crossing to the seaside
coastal bays; then back across the bay over Hungars Creek on the bayside to
Gwynns Island and Milford Haven; over to the Rappahannock River over Parrotts
Island on the south side to Carters Creek on the north side; and then over the
bayside from Windmill Point at the mouth of the Rappahannock River to Dameron
Marsh just below Reedville. We then flew across to the Pamunkey River, headed
to the Chickahominy River, and finishing up in Grays Creek just above Scotland
where the James River ferry lands.
Water clarity in the lower James was poor and the only area where we could
make out any SAV was around the Monitor Merrimac Bridge Tunnel, the site of
our 1996-1998 transplant work.
In the Coastal Bay area of the lower Delmarva Peninsula, we were able to
observe the outlines of a number of our one acre eelgrass plots in South Bay,
as well as the large, natural area of eelgrass we discovered this year just
south of our restoration site with the one acre plots.
SAV was noted in the Hungars Creek and The Gulf area.
We noted some SAV in Milford Haven but water clarity was poor. This area (Gwynns
Island) was one of the hardest hit areas by Isabel. We noted some areas of SAV
along the north shore of the Piankatank but saw little of the large bed off
Healy Creek. It appears also that there may have been some shifting of the
sand bars at the inlet to Milford Haven at the Hole in the Wall
In the Rappahannock River we saw nothing around Parrot Island as well as
Sanders Cove, the location of both VIMS and CBF's successful eelgrass
restoration work since 1996, despite the fact that water clarity looked okay.
The only area we noted some SAV was near Mosquito Island near the mouth just
above Windmill Point along the north shore.
We did note considerable SAV in the area from Windmill Point through Fleets
Bay to Dameron Marsh, which is just below Reedville.
In the Pamunkey and Chickahominy rivers as well as Grays Creek we noted
very dense SAV in areas where our field crews observed SAV this past summer
and where SAV has been previously mapped.
Planted wild celery beds in the Hopewell region of the James River were
examined Tuesday, Sept. 30. Plants looked great with many leaves over a meter
long, and fortunately the cages suffered only minor damage. This is in stark
contrast to last years' wild celery that died in August, undoubtedly because
of the higher than average salinities.
On Friday, Oct. 3, we surveyed a number of areas in the Piankatank and
Rappahannock rivers as well as the Fleets Bay area. In the Piankatank River,
we saw no eelgrass plants off Burtons Point (secchi was 80 cm) in the
4-one-acre plots that were seeded in 2002. We had noted plants in the spring
but all we found now were dead rhizomes. We also noted large sand ripples and
some areas with very fluid sediment. The ENE exposure of this location made it
particularly susceptible to the strong winds of Isabel which were quite
intense here given the amount of damage we observed on land. Thus, we were not
surprised to find any plants although we are not sure how much eelgrass was
present here just before Isabel given the conditions we had this summer. Off
the mouth of Healy Creek (secchi was 1.2 m) we found very patchy eelgrass and
widgeongrass in the area that had a very dense covering in the spring.
In the Rappahannock River, we found no evidence of the eelgrass we noted
this past spring in the plots seeded in 2002 off Parrott Island. The bottom
had a lot of large sand ripples as well as large sand waves on the spatial
scale of meters and heights of up to a third of a meter. This area has an ESE
exposure and must have really gotten battered by Isabel because of its ENE
exposure. At Sanders Cove, which had luxuriant eelgrass this past spring in
all of the CBF and VIMS transplant areas as well as natural widgeongrass, we
noted only 4 eelgrass plants and no widgeongrass! We found dead rhizomes in
those areas that had the abundant eelgrass. Because we did not check this area
before Isabel it's entirely possible that the eelgrass and widgeongrass had
already died out as we noted in other areas of the Bay. The bottom was
essentially barren. Water clarity was generally good and secchi readings
exceeded the bottom depths at these locations.
In stark contrast to the absence of SAV in the Rappahannock River, SAV in
the areas we checked at the mouth of Indian Creek just above Fleets Bay were
very healthy. The widgeongrass was beautiful, bright green and few epiphytes)
with remnants of flowering shoots still present. Eelgrass was present
throughout these beds but widgeongrass was dominant. We noted a large number
of hummocks of grass that were probably a result of Isabel's wave action.
Water clarity in these beds was excellent. We also recorded a secchi reading
of 1.3 m near a marina at the head of Indian Creek.
We ended that day noting four large mute swans at the mouth of Indian Creek
and a bunch of floating SAV in the vicinity of where they were foraging (I'd
appreciate it if someone could please pass on this observation to those
monitoring mute swan populations).
Our observations (and those of others) suggest that except for a few
localized areas that received very heavy direct wave action that eroded
portions of the SAV beds, SAV in many areas weathered Isabel quite well. As
mentioned earlier, impacts from this summers' above average rainfall appear to
have been much worse for SAV than Isabel, especially on the widgeongrass beds
in the mid-Bay areas.
I was out on the Bush river today (10/3) and it is looking about as good as
it gets. Had secchi readings from 0.68 to 0.76. Had censored readings at a
couple of near shore sites at depths of 1.1 and 1.3 meters. Doves Cove on the
lower Bush is beautiful. Mostly Hydrilla but some Myriophyllum, Vallisneria,
Heteranthera, Potamogetoncrispus, and Elodea. I
did observe ~ 75 geese and ~ 20 swans in the cove also over towards the corner
where earlier in the season I observed the large Vallisneria beds.
I was up on the Gunpowder River today (10/1) and up by the Amtrak Bridge I
got secchi reading of 1.47 meters which was also the total depth. And down on
Dundee and Saltpeter creeks I got secchi depths between 0.68 and 0.90 meters.
All of Days Cove above the bridge on the Gunpowder is full of plants,
mostly Hydrilla but some Vallisneria and some Milfoil. I have
not been through the entire bed yet to check for other species.
10/01/03 Candace Croswell, Baltimore County
Environmental Protection and Resource Management
Bird and Gunpowder Rivers (Quads 007
, 008, and 014)
This is in response to the observations with turbidity in the Bird and
Gunpowder Rivers. The Bird River Dredging project has been active from October
02-Feb 03 and began again on June 15th 2003. The channel dredging is currently
occurring in the headwaters of the south side of Bird River and is not the
source of the excessive turbidity. The rain this spring and summer has
severely impacted the rivers. I have observed the dredging operations several
times. The rain event on September 22nd, which produced over 4 inches of rain
in the Gunpowder and Bird watersheds, caused the latest extremely turbid
conditions. I have flown over the County's creeks after Isabel and the storm
on the 22nd and SAV looks good throughout the County. We have detailed 2003
SAV surveys (spring and summer) which will be available shortly.
09/30/03 Steve Ailstock, Anne Arundel Community
Like almost everywhere else, the water quality in the perfoliatus beds in
Marshy Creek, north of Horsehead is very poor, but the mechanical damage to
the plants was slight because of the protected nature of the site. Isabel
threw an additional curve at this location because it made the site extremely
attractive to the swans. I counted over 60 in a confined cove of less than 2
acres. They have tended to remain because the food source is so good.
That wind data is instructive about what windspeed means! The Byrd Hall
data showed a peak of 40 at 18 hours plus, but the gusts don't show up in the
data. Still they are there in real life.
Same thing at Osborn Cove where I put a meteorological station in last
January. Peak on my anemometer showed at 35, with 10 minute averages of 17,
19, etc, but standing out there knee deep on the dock I designed to be a foot
above our highest recorded tide in 3 decades, I'm sure we had gusts to 50. A
German yacht, moored on three anchors in the adjacent creek, watched a gust of
65 on his instruments, but the data base will never show that.
We had little damage right here at the Cove. Boats all OK, though 20 trees
down on the approach road, and parts of 6 days without power (121 hours
actual.) I felt really bad about your correspondent who lost his home.
Nancy and I did a loop in Virginia from Shirley Plantation on the James
(where crest was between 6- 10 feet at Eppes Island, with a residual Secchi of
about 1/3 M on Sunday. Lots of "tendrils" of forest destruction all
along the James and York past Williamsburg to Yorktown (Looks like the Duke of
York Motel really got hit on the first floor).
We passed VIMS and saw your damage. Poor cottage on the pier.
I interviewed a woman (daughter of shipwright/author Gil Klingel) from
Gwynns Island for an article who's 1880 house and pier were pushed through by
3 feet of water (a surge of about 6 ft.) parts of the island were devastated
with hundreds of trees down, crushed houses. Same observed the following day
at Deltaville, Stingray Point and (the worst we saw) at Stove neck in the
Rappahannock, where a thousand trees and almost every electric wire was down.
This is a high landspit, and did not flood but was flat against the brunt of
the storm. The proverbial 200 year old oak trees were down every few yards.
Most Secchi depth visibility estimates of water clarity were not especially
turbid (0.3.0.5 M) but the Potomac at Morgantown was milk chocolaty and likely
only several cm secchi.
I support Bob Stankelis' observation about Patuxent clarity. I was at 0.9 M
before the winds started to rise but at the peak of the surge (or just before
dark, anyhow) I got a solid 1.7 M in the Cove while standing knee deep on the
dock. I interpret this as clear open Bay water being hyraulically pushed into
the tributaries. That's about the Secchi depth I've been seeing mid Bay off
About a day after the storm, I could see runoff effects from the local
(45-49 mm) rainfall during the storm (and an equivalent amount 2 days later).
Secchi, with observed small vegetable debris, went down to 0.8-o.9 again, and
has not significantly changed.
In the mainstem, I sailed across to Tar Bay and Barren Island on September
21st. Secchi there was about 1/3 M, except in plumes coming off the island
which were chocolaty and opaque.
Only fragments of loose SAV (Ruppia) were observed, the couple
hundred mute swans feeding there a few days before Isabel were gone, but the
Pelicans nesting on an islet south of Barren, were back. At least I counted 51
of what had been a hundred at nesting time, the others more likely migrated
The "Marshes" bird rookery Islands, Opossum Island and Barren had
all been overtopped. On Barren all the interior ponds were salty, the
vegetation was browning, tree roots exposed by flowing baywater, and the WOODS
had fiddler crabs scurrying all over the place many meters from the shoreline.
Little Opossum Island was devastated, all of its undergrowth washed away,
and only about 4 trees remaining. Huge deadfalls (30 inch DBH tree trunks) on
the shoreline for years as the island eroded were all washed away. Simply
vanished. On the windward (E-SE) side, other large deadfalls tipped into the
water were swept up onto the island and like huge plows, had scored trenches
50-60 feet along into the island's clay subsoil before being deposited atop
the landmass. Most of the topsoil, the remains of a 19th century homesite and
a late Woodland Indian midden I've been watching were all scoured away. A
sandbar joining Opossum to an adjacent islet was scoured to bare clay subsoil
where I used to find bits of Indian Pottery and an occasional arrowhead or
The bay had been clear with little debris when I sailed East, but
returning, with the second ebb tide of the day came a broad field of debris:
barrels, trash, limbs, some sticking out of the water five feet and 30 foot
long killer logs floating almost submerged in the chop of a 15 know wind. Very
tense navigating east of the main Bay channel. I still hit one, but with no
damage other than the thump.
My tidestaff at Osborn Cove does not have a proper datum against which to
judge actual sea level. It's a USGS enamelled guage in feet and hundredths
obtained from the Alliance for Chesapeake Bay years ago, with "sealevel"
averaging at about 13.6 feet; the lowest tides at 10.3 and the highest at 15.9
ft. "Isabel" topped out at about 17.25 feet, or a surge of roughly
four feet and it extended our observed tidal range from 5.6 feet to nearly 7.
My records began in 1976 at this site; qualitative observations in July 1974,
or about three decades. We do not have an actual data point here for
"Agnes" in June, 72.
The Bird River is being dredged right now, we saw the dredge boat working
while picking water chestnuts a few weeks ago. This may account for the very
turbid water you are seeing in the Gunpowder. According to an acquaintance who
lives on the Bird, it's been very turbid all summer. We did see some
impressive SAV beds right at the mouth of Day's Cove, and in the maze of
creeks all over that area. Lots of Vallisneria and Hydrilla both
inside the creeks and on the broad shoal where the Gunpowder and Bird Rivers
meet. Hardly an opening in the vegetation anywhere you go in that area!
I just wanted to pass on a few observations from last week (9/17-19) while
out monitoring SAV for the Poplar Island Restoration Project. Our office has
been monitoring SAV for three years now with the primary goal of documenting
the return of SAV to Poplar Harbor. In doing so we've been sampling SAV w/in
Poplar Harbor and 5 reference sites along the E. Shore. They are Harbor Cove,
Lowes Pt., Ferry Cove, Front Creek, and an area on the E. side of Tilghman.
These reference polygons have generally been dominated by widgeon grass
with some sago and horned pondweed observations in May and July. We resample
in 3 episodes: May, July, September. In 2001 and 2002, our late September
sampling showed quite dense widgeon grass beds at the reference sites and that
was also the case during July of this year.
Last week I began our slightly delayed sampling and found no grass
whatsoever at 2 of our strongest reference sites. Our first clue was the total
absence of the very reliable complement of several dozen to a few hundred mute
swans normally on these sites. We did find a low density of widgeon grass at
our site on the E. side of Tilghman which is relatively more sheltered. As you
also observed, this tiny bit of grass we did find was remarkably
"clean," and free of fouling.
It was unfortunate to see 20 to 40-acre or larger beds completely swept
away, but we have more sampling this week, and it will be interesting to hear
what others report.
I checked a number of grass beds yesterday, Thursday Sept. 24, in the lower
York River and Mobjack Bay. It was a beautiful but sobering day as we were
able to see the full effects of the storm on a number of houses and shoreline
in this region.
First, water clarity was pretty lousy all over and to see the grass I had
to get my face right on the bottom. The water had a reddish-brown tint to it
and secchi readings were generally around 80 cm at all locations. A VIMS crew
went out Tuesday and found secchi readings in the same range with a low of 60
cm at Clay Bank, the upriver limit of historical eelgrass distribution. On
Wednesday we did our bi-weekly shoal run and kd's (light attenuation) were
2.45 at Guinea Marsh, 2.2 at Goodwin Island, 1.4 at VIMS, 1.7 at Yorktown, 1.7
at Mumfort Island, 1.6 at Catlett Island, and 1.7 at Clay Bank. Higher kd's at
Guinea and Goodwin at the mouth of the York River were a result of windier
conditions at those locations during the shoal run.
Second, eelgrass was present at all the locations and was typical of fall
conditions patchy and short (20-30 cm tall). The most surprising observation I
made was that the leaves of eelgrass were a beautiful green color with almost
no fouling or other 'crud' on it. It appeared as if the leaves were
'sandblasted'! I did observe a lot of floating, live eelgrass and widgeongrass
at several locations and significant sand waves at the most exposed locations
suggesting that some SAV was undoubtedly washed out by the storm. Several
locations also had widgeongrass and while I observed no flowering shoots, the
vegetative shoots were also like eelgrass and had no fouling. The densest and
best looking eelgrass was right in front of the VIMS library, the site of our
1982-1983 transplanting project. This was impressive given the waves that
pounded this shoreline during the storm (the same exposure as the VIMS ferry
pier house that was destroyed - see pictures on VIMS
web site (especially those from a web cam that was mounted on top of one
of our buildings that shows the force of the storm and of the ferry pier house
breaking up as well as the attachment from Science).
The eelgrass on the other side of the Point by our greenhouse was present and
it was interesting to walk across one of our 2x2 m plots from an ongoing
experiment. The eelgrass plot had a 6-8 inch relief over the surrounding bare
area, a testament to one of the characteristics that SAV beds have stabilizing
Another interesting observation was that all of our pvc poles at VIMS and
the Coast Guard area, which denote our experiments, were still standing,
despite the high water of Isabel and all the debris that floated around that
How all this plays out for eelgrass and widgeongrass will depend on what
happened to the seeds that were produced this year and the regrowth from what
remains from this summers wet season and Isabel, along with all the cownose
rays that also disturbed quite a few beds.
Again, many of us would really appreciate any observations you make even it
is from the shoreline. If any of you begin to notice water clarity improving
please let me know ASAP since we have put all aerial photography on hold until
water clarity improves.
09/26/03 Julie Bortz, MD-DNR
Bush and Gunpowder Rivers (Quads 007
, 008, and 014)
Andrea and I were out in both the Bush and Gunpowder Rivers this past week
and both rivers are extremely turbid...I don't remember when I've seen either
river this turbid! Secchi depths at Otter Point Creek in the tidal headwaters
of the Bush were .10-.15m on Tuesday(9/23) and had improved to .25-.40m
yesterday. Prior to the storm we were getting censored secchi depths at sites
1-1.25m deep. Water level has been exceptionally high and remained high even
during "low tides."
On a positive note, Isabel seems to have spared the grasses there and
elsewhere in the Bush and Gunpowder rivers. Otter Point Creek was densely
vegetated with Hydrilla and many other species prior to the storm. For
the most part, the vegetation seems to have lasted the storm. Some areas of
shallow channels lost some vegetation but on the whole, the area looks like
densities have remained fairly constant pre and post storm. Fencing and
markings around our restoration sites also remained intact at Otter Point
We also made it to Dundee Creek and Carroll Island on Wednesday....there's
not much there as far as plants but from what I've been told, there wasn't
much there earlier in the year either. Still some Vallisneria but
certainly nothing like 2001...I guess it just hasn't rebounded yet from the
drought last year.
We had similar observations as to the "sand blasting" of the
vegetation at Otter Point Creek. The majority of sediments and epiphytes that
were relatively dense on the plants prior to the storm appeared to have been
lost in the storm. The plants appeared much greener and cleaner after the
storm. Also, no noticeable filamentous algae as we had seen on many of the
plants prior to the storm.
09/26/03 Evamaria Koch, UMCES Horn Point
We were in Chincoteague yesterday (9/25). We had never seen the water so
high. It was some 2 to 3 feet above normal and stayed that way all day long.
We have also never seen the water as turbid. Could not see a thing! We put
some light sensors out at the Seagrass Net site off Tizzard Island. We have
light data from there before Isabel. It should be interesting to see the
Zostera beds were still looking OK but there was a good amount of
wrack and sand washed ashore. In some places there was wrack in bushes about
0.5 m above the marsh!!!! In some places the wrack consisted mostly of small
dead leaves (stuff that may have accumulated in the beds over time and was
"cleaned out" by Isabel) while in other places the wrack was 100%
green leaves (ripped off leaves but not entire plants).
09/26/03 Bob Stankelis, UMCES Chesapeake
In contrast to many of the stories that people have been relaying, the
mesohaline region of the Patuxent is actually clearer than before Isabel. This
past Monday (9/22) we went to several sites along the Patuxent and the water
looked remarkably clear with salinities just about where they were before the
hurricane. At CBL the secchi was 1.5 m, with salinity about 12. In the upper
Patuxent, Walter mentioned that there was a considerable amount of SAV wrack
that had apparently washed down from some of the smaller tribs, but the water
clarity was typical for that region. Also on a positive note, our prototype
swan exclosures remained intact at our Broomes Island site.
09/26/03 Roman Jesien, Maryland Coastal Bays
I was in the St. Martins River (northern Coastal Bays) on Wednesday (9/24).
Water was turbid, but did not seem exceptionally so, about what one sees after
a heavy rain. Looked at SAV (snorkeling) along the Isle of Wight Corps
project. The natural SAV bed directly south of the island is still intact
(approx 30 - 40% cover). Did not see any plants in the revegetated area which
is consistent with our lack of finding replanted SAV there in mid-August.
I lost my home to the hurricane. We went out Sunday (9/21) to look
at the damage and it is unbelievable. The boat was constantly pushing a bluish
green sheen on top of the water as we patrolled the shore line looking for
lost items. I do not know how long it will take all of the sewage, oil & gas
to flush our of the river or evaporate, but I imagine it will take some
time. Then we had the big rains on Tuesday and that brought down all the mud
from Herring Run and Red House Run...you could actually see the mud coming
down the river...disgusting. We will probably see numerous pieces of trash
floating down the river all winter, when I am there. We are currently
searching for some temporary housing.
09/25/03 Gary Anderson, VIMS
Hurricane Isabel Wind Observations
Below are 72 hours of wind and rain observations from the station on top of
Byrd Hall starting on Wednesday (9/17) of last week. The summary values are
derived from six-minute recorded data. Unfortunately, the wind vane sensor was
not operating correctly so the direction values are not reported, and are
denoted as (.) in the third data column.
A peak wind gust of 90.60 mph was recorded between 18:00 and 19:00 on
Thursday evening. Previous peak gusts during hurricanes include Fran (76.33
mph on Sep 06, 1996), and Bertha (57.76 on Jul 12, 1996, a TS when it passed
Gloucester Pt.). We missed Floyd in 1999, the instruments were down due to
Significant peak gusts have also been recorded during frontal storms. For
example, a gust on May 02, 2002 clocked in at 80.96 mph.
The original six-minute observations along with a bunch of other neat data
stuff can be found online here
I waded out to two SAV beds on the south shore of the Magothy today
with two of my NOAA colleagues to see how they were doing after the
One bed was at Stonington which is the same place that DNR has one of
its continuous monitors on the Magothy, which was operating during the
storm. The pier to which it was attached was not damaged. The WQ data
from during the storm can be seen here;
note especially the peak in salinity and turbidity during the storm
surge, and the dip in salinity during rain this morning.
Since the sensor is floating 1 m below the surface it does not record
water depth. I had not checked the SAV near this pier very recently but
based on past visits, it seemed to have the extent, density and species
that are normal for late September, when dieback is usually starting to
occur. Redhead grass was dominant with almost as much widgeon grass
(some with flowers) and very bushy green sago pondweed (without flowers,
as is usual for the Magothy). The tide was higher than usual; we were
there near predicted low tide and the water depth at the DNR sensor was
2.4 m, while the "normal" MLLW depth listed on the page above
for this sensor is 1.9 m. Secchi depth on this pier was 0.85 m, not
particularly high for this site, and salinity was 5.3 ppt, low for this
time of year but about the same as before the storm (see
web site above). We had trouble seeing any SAV because the tide was
about 0.5 m higher than normal, and the plants seemed to be weighed down
by epiphytes somewhat, but we could see them with a view scope.
The other bed was at Ulmstead, just upriver of Stonington on the
other side of Ulmstead Point. I expected this pier to also have escaped
damage since it faces NW and the strongest winds were from the E,
blocked by the point, but it was heavily buckled up near shore.
Apparently the small shed attached to the pier near shore got submerged
and acted as a lever to loosen the pilings. The SAV beds next this pier,
which I checked at low tide about 3 weeks ago, seemed about the same as
they were then, with perhaps a few more epiphytes on the redhead grass.
Sago pondweed and widgeon grass were still present as they were before.
Thus whatever damaged the pier did not seem to damage to SAV beds next
to it. I have done water quality monitoring off this pier for a number
of years so I will have to get permission to use a nearby pier; the
smaller piers nearby were all undamaged.
John Page Williams said a spot check of Severn River SAV beds near
his house did not show any obvious damage after the storm, but he will
be checking beds in more detail over the next few days, and send an
email about what he sees. I encourage anyone else who can check natural
or planted SAV beds over the next week or two to do this and report what
they see, since there is a lot of interest in the storm's effects.
Sunday at low tide I went to check the SAV south of Hallowing Pt.,
Virginia side of that island, near a jetty/boat ramp at a community
beach. I raked around and found the plants were well (Vallisneria
(0.6m tall), Najas minor, Ceratophyllum demersum, Hydrilla,
Myriophyllum spicatum) but the turbidity was bad (also windy).
09/04/03 Fred Kurst
Corsica River, Southeast Creek, and Shipping Creek (Quads 022,
As you know, the weather has not been cooperating with us this year.
We have made some progress. We have people out in the Narrows area,
Queenstown Creek to the Corsica, Corsica River, Southeast Creek,
Langford Creek and Grey's Inn Creek.
The bad news is that nothing in the Corsica, but that is not an
amazing revelation. Southeast Creek has some but very little. Shipping
Creek has quite a bit, enough that one of our members could see it from
08/25/03 Fred Kurst
Chester River (Church Creek, White Cove) and Shipping Creek (Quads
, and 032)
We did check several places on the west side of Church Creek and did
not find any grass. However, we did not have a photo that pointed out
any grass on that side, even faint spots. I have seen grass this year at
two places, White Cove and Shipping Creek. A very small strand in White
Cove that was planted by the Chester River Association this year and
barely surviving. Shipping Creek is pretty large and dense. Got this
originally from Tyler Campbell who flew over it.
Mixed news on the SAV in the St. Mary's River. At Piney Point (10.7
ppt, 28 C, Secchi 1.1 m) Ruppia has persisted, although the
patches are not as large as they were in the spring. Zostera
planted (WWB test plots) intermixed with Ruppia has declined
dramatically since the spring. Some plots were completely devoid of Zostera
(and sometimes Ruppia), while others had a few scraggly shoots
and lots of bare rhizomes. None of the Ruppia was in flower.
There was one of the original WWB plots (surrounded by PVC pipe) that
had tall, bushy plants. These plants were not reproductive...I'm
guessing that these are sago pondweed that was planted a couple years
At Chicken Cock Creek (just north of Sage Point; 11.1 ppt, 30.8 C,
Secchi 0.8 m), both the Zostera and Ruppia have died back
dramatically. Last year the area was dense with Ruppia, and Zostera
patches from reseeding (from test plots) were scattered through the
area. There are now scattered patches of Ruppia, and I only found
a few shoots of Zostera near one of JJ's original seed plots.
The large Ruppia bed at Rose Croft Point seems to be doing
fine, a little more bare substrate visible than last year, but still
On 08/14/03-I surveyed Church Creek adjacent to Eastern Neck. Found
only one patch of about .25-.5 acre in extent on the east side, about
halfway up from mouth of creek. Found floating widgeon grass, milfoil
and redhead grass. Found some redhead grass clumps growing from bottom.
Bottom covered with a dense mat of grass shoots that were greenish brown
and brittle. Not really identifiable due to condition but was either
widgeon grass or one of the pondweeds.
Of the areas surveyed so far, following are the results (mid-July
1. Frying Pan Cove.-Barren, no evidence of SAV. Has been this way
since 1999. 2. Tubby Cove. Trace amounts of probably widgeon grass,
though could be one of the pond weeds. Shoots were 3-4 inches in length,
very pale, not large enough for me to be sure of the species. 3. Calf
Pasture Cove. A bed of widgeon grass probably 4-5 acres in extent. The
tops have been grazed down to about 18-24 below water surface level by a
flock of approximately 24-30 mute swans. May not be visible from the air
as a result. 4. Durding Creek. Trace amounts of widgeon grass and two
patches of red headed grass on the south shore. Extent not large or
dense enough to quantify. There was no SAV in this location last year.
5. Shipyard Creek. Trace amounts of probably widgeon grass.
The above spots are all in the Eastern Neck vicinity, some on the bay
side, some on the river. The bay side of the narrows was barren, as was
the river side.
Further up river, there were traces of probably widgeon grass in
Jarret Creek. In addition, an extent of Shipyard Creek off Langford Bay
was surveyed and found barren.
It is probably fine to start air photos of the Potomac because the
plants are near the peak coverage. Clarity appears poor due to rain and
runoff-maybe it'll let up soon.
SAV coverage in DC is down 99% based on DC Fisheries biologist Danny
Ryan's observations to date. Beds at Roosevelt Island, National Airport,
North end of bed at Wilson Bridge are gone. There is some
vegetation at the Blue Plains sewage treatment plant outlet and in the
Washington Shipping Channel. Danny predicts a decrease from 700 acres in
2002 to ~15 acres in 2003 but he has not conducted his Aug./Sept.
shoreline survey of DC yet. He feels the high velocities, turbidity and
deposition of sediment have caused the decline. He has not observed any
immature sprouts and so is not expecting the plants to increase between
now and the end of the growing season. I can confirm his findings based
on my 8/10/03 observations made at Oronocco Bay, Founders Park and the
old Ford Plant (all in old town Alexandria). There were no propagules
(fragments of plants, etc) on the shoreline.
SAV coverage below Mt. Vernon appears to be good, based on low tide
observations 8/10/03 at several locations along the Mt. Vernon parkway.
On the Virginia side of the Potomac across from Hatton Pt. the SAV
coverage is 70-80% and the bed extends about 200m from shore (Hydrilla,
Vallisneria, Najas minor, Ceratophyllum). Just
south of there, at Hunting Creek, in the embayment, coverage is 70-80% (Hydrilla,
Vallisneria, Najas minor, Hydrilla, Ceratophyllum,
Najas guadelupensis). There are tons of propagules (fragments of
plants, etc) on the shoreline.
SAV coverage at Mattawoman Creek at the south mouth and at Bullit
Neck are similar to 2002.
There is a decrease of SAV at Nanjemoy Creek/Blossom Pt.
Judith Sound -Though the small eelgrass plot (mitigation for Wilson
Bridge) was fine from June to July, by Aug. 1 it had died back to
rhizomes and no shoots.
Many of the beds in all three locations are down since June. Also,
many beds that have been 3-4 (density) over the last few years are now
1-2 or gone completely. Some examples are the south and north side of
Mulberry point in Broad Creek and Cedar Point in Broad Creek. Lost of
bioturbation sign (mostly ray hole).
I wanted to update the SAV Taskgroup on the experimental large scale
planting that took place in Maryland the week of July 14-18, 2003.
Seagrass Recovery, Inc. (Jim Anderson) was contracted by Chesapeake Bay
Foundation (through a grant from NOAA-RAE) to plant Vallisneria
americana (VAL) in both the Bush River (Otter Point Creek) and at
Rocky Point (Mouth of Middle and Back Rivers). This project was
experimental in nature and viewed as a test to see how the mechanized
planting machine would work planting VAL in sediments of the upper Bay.
Both sites have been test sites in the past and planted using citizen
volunteers through CBF's Grasses for the Masses program and shown at
least two years of survival and successful growth prior to this
The double-wheeled pontoon boat planted 1/2 acre plots of VAL at each
of the two sites during the week. The plants were either seedlings,
grown out ahead of time, or whole plants placed in small peat pots
attached to disks that fit directly into the planting wheel. The boat
planting worked great in the two very different sediments (hard sand and
muck!) and was very easy to plant using a couple of folks on the boat.
In addition to planting a 1/2 acre plant using a couple of folks on the
boat. In addition to planting a 1/2 acre at each of the sites, a
scientific study was also conducted to compare machine planted vs. hand
planted VAL (all in peat pots with a disc attached). This study was lead
by Peter Bergstrom (NOAA). The 1/2 acre sites as well as the study lines
will be monitored for survival throughout the remainder of this growing
season and in the spring/summer 2004. Results of this project will be
posted to this list as well as presented at the annual "restoration
meeting" coordinated by the taskgroup.
In total, just over 20,000 VAL plants were planted during the week.
100 volunteers helped to assemble the 20,000 peat pots and we received
14 press hits from print media, TV and radio. All-in-all a great week
for underwater grasses!
We were out on the river yesterday (7/8) and mid channel secchi depth
off of Benoni Point (mouth of Tred Avon) was just under a meter. Most of
the beds we have ground-truthed this year are west of this point: Tred
Avon, Broad Creek, Harris Creek, east shoreline of eastern Bay
(Claiborne and Ferry Cove). As you would expect, secchi depths in the
denser beds is between one and two meters.
There are small patches of Zannichellia and Ruppia in
La Trappe Creek and in the cove near the lab. This year we ground-truthed
the north shore of the river and found no grass between La Trappe Creek
and Island Creek. Most of the significant beds on either side of the
river are west of the mouth of the Tred Avon River.
Some of the Ruppia is sending-up reproductive shoots, but actually
flowering has not really begun.
Some of the Zannichellia is already on its way out for the
season. Water clarity is poor and secchi disk depths are less than 1
meter in most of the potential SAV habitat areas.
07/09/03 Debbie Hinkle, UMCES Horn Point
Choptank River, Tred Avon River, and Eastern Bay (Quads 036
We have been out in the Choptank, Tred Avon near Tar Creek this week
and visibility is nil. Eastern Bay in Ferry Cove and in the cove by the
Claiborne Ferry dock was much better water clarity. We could make out
the dark/light differentiation of bare bottom and those that had grass.
There the water is the typical summer clarity, but the Choptank is
brown. Visibility is maybe 5 inches. Hope this helps. Transplanting was
done at the Ferry Cove site at the end of June and that site was more
dense than just the two weeks prior to the recon trip.
Some of us occasionally get to split a day between computer screen
and face in the water. Before the rains hit this afternoon, I got to
spend two hours in Rays Pond with some Anne Arundel Co. teachers and a
couple of CBF staffers.
Redhead looks good in many places here on the Aisquith Creek Bar
(including several formerly occupied by milfoil) and is growing out to
about 5' at high tide (measured by a canoe paddle, +/- 3").
Some widgeon is up, in water to 4' and flowering, but there's much
less than last year. It seems delicate, compared with the redhead. It's
scattered through the beds, in front of the house, in the Pond, and on
the Aisquith Creek Bar.
06/19/03 Evamaria Koch, UMCES Horn Point
We lucked out with the weather yesterday (6/18). It was sunny and
The seagrasses were also fascinating! In the upper creek, there was
mostly Ruppia while in the lower creek and offshore, there was Zostera
growing at 1.7 m! It is possible that it is growing deeper but we did
not yet sample those sites.
Around Silver Beach, there was sparse Zostera and south of the
creek, there was beautiful thick Zostera. A sand bar similar to
that south of Hungars creek is developing south of Nassawadox creek and
behind this sand bar is where the seagrasses are doing quite well. We
also saw at least 20 rays in that area!!!! Actually, the faunal
abundance was incredible: shrimps, flounders, crabs....
I dove some channels. They are basically unvegetated and do not have
macroalgae accumulated as the currents are quite swift in them. But it
was interesting that the water in the bottom of these channels is quite
black (and freezing cold!). I am wondering if in your photos you are
seeing this dark water... We only found macroalgae in the bed south of
the mouth of the creek, protected by the sand bar.
The big bed at the mouth of the creek is a mixture of beautiful Zostera
and Ruppia. The Ruppia was reproductive and quite far
along: flowers popping out of their sheaths but no seeds yet.
Although usually at this time of year one finds only Horned pondweed
(Zp) in Maryland tidal waters, I found that and three other species on
Old Man Creek last night. Thus although the water may be colder than
usual, we shouldn't assume that all the other SAV species will be late
coming up this year.
These were all growing near the head of tide in very shallow water
(from 1 foot to a few inches deep at mid tide, some is a mud flat at low
tide). Most of the shallows were covered with dense, bright green horned
pondweed. I found one patch sago pondweed that was already over a foot
long; I have found it in the same spot for several years, but usually
later in the season. I've never found flowers or seeds on any of the
sago pondweed on the Magothy. I also found several shoots of Callitriche
(Cl) and Najas guadalupensis (Ngu) in the same area. Ngu was
reported in the tidal Magothy in the 1970's in the FWS/DNR ground
survey, but is quite rare there now.
I found three of these species (all but the Najas) in the same spot
in 1998, see this
quad. In 1998 I also found Callitriche (Cl), Sparganium
(S), and Potamogeton epihydrus (Pe) growing with Zp at the upper
tidal limit of the Magothy (on the same map). 1998 was another high flow
year; I suspect that in these years, in creeks that have nontidal
wetlands upstream, some of the freshwater SAV growing in them washes
into the tidal portion and may grow there, at least until the salinity
06/10/03 Laura Murray, UMCES Horn Point
It is nice to know that there are other species besides horned
pondweed out there and seemingly doing well, at least at this point. We
were out in the Choptank today (Island and Irish Creeks) and found both Zannichellia
and Ruppia co-existing in several locations. We also found a few
reproductive shoots of Ruppia, which I thought would be early
given our wonderful weather lately.