I'm getting out kayaking on a fairly regular basis this spring, giving me a
chance to check SAV. There's lots of Zannichellia palustris (Zp) in the upper
estuary above Tippity Wichity, particularly on the NE side (at the mouth
of Hilton Run). Zannichellia is also found below Tippity Wichity on both sides of
the river. I found continuous beds at the mouth of and going up into Frog
Marshes, huge floating mats within the tidal pond adjacent to Martin
Point, and smaller patches from Bettys Cove to the down river side of
Ruppia maritima also looks healthy in the upper river. This morning I
observed thick beds north of Horseshoe Point and smaller patches around
the first point (I don t know the name) south of Pagan Point. Some of the
Rm at this site was in flower.
On Monday (June 6) the water was very clear over the SAV patches. I'm sure the secchi was over a meter. However, we had an impressive storm Monday night and water clarity was terrible on Tuesday morning in the upper St. Mary's.
The water temperatures are going up especially in the shallows--we had a balmy 30 C/85 F at the Magothy River Association redhead grass planting last night, near the mouth of Grays Creek at Sylvan View.
The redhead grass we planted at the same site last year was doing very well, dense and to the surface with many flowers, covering about 75% of the fenced area with a few plants outside it. I took the group assembled last night for the Magothy "Wade-In" over to see the plants (see attached photo), and the water next to them was a bit clearer than it was nearby (we got only 14" of clarity due to an onshore wind and many swimmers in the area). Last year at the same site it was pretty calm and we had 31" of clarity.
We also found one clump of healthy sago pondweed near the Magothy planting site; this beach had no natural SAV last year except a little horned pondweed. I heard reports from others that the sago pondweed beds that we found near Dobbins Island and Little Island (both on the Magothy, near the planting site) in past years were much larger and denser this year, and (as evidence of this) there were quite a few fresh sago fragments on the fencing around the redhead grass that we planted last year.
The widgeongrass I have seen in the last few days (on the Potomac near St. George Island and in St. Mary's River, and next to Janes Island near Crisfield, all earlier this week) was all the short form with basal growth, so apparently it is slower to respond to the rising water temperatures than redhead or sago. I did find one longer flowering shoot near Janes Island.
When I was in Crisfield I gave a waterman who lies in Ewell on Smith Island some SAV sampling gear. He is paid to sample air quality for NOAA and had some time to devote to SAV and water sampling. His boat is only 16' so he can't go far beyond Smith Island, and he can only sample from the boat by raking or view scope, but if there are specific locations around there that you'd like him to check for SAV, he has a GPS with WAAS and can go to specific sites if I ask him to. I plan to go there this summer when plants are longer to train him further, especially to distinguish sago pondweed from widgeongrass (I found sago pondweed near Smith Island once but it is rarely reported there).
06/13/05 Margaret Podlich, Boat U.S. Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water
I saw a LOT of what I think is redhead grass between the 2
Severn River bridges this weekend (south side shore) and again up in
Round Bay community. More than the last 2 years.
06/13/05 Peter Bergstrom, NOAA
Magothy River (Quads 023, 024 ) and Prospect Bay (Quad 033)
In past years the farthest upriver I had found redhead grass (Ppf) in the Magothy was the mouth of Cockey Creek. Last night I found one (only one!) redhead plant with 2 shoots, one of which appeared to be cropped, in Old Man Creek. There were beds of horned pondweed (Zp) and a few clumps of slender pondweed (Ppu) nearby.
The closest natural redhead grass I had found before was a few clumps that had spread from a planting I helped the Magothy River Association do just downriver from the mouth of Cockey Creek in 2002 and 2003. This was 0.8 mi downriver from what I found last night (see attached map). In 2002 I found it only as far upriver as South Ferry Point and Blackhole Creek (also shown on attached map). I know there is more redhead grass in the vicinity of Old Man Creek this year because I also found a new shoot floating in the mainstem of the river, just upriver from Cockey Creek.
This is exciting news because it means the redhead grass is spreading upriver, just as it spread both up and down river in the Severn after it appeared outside of Asquith Creek in 1994. In the Severn, redhead grass has been found as far downriver as the mouth of Weems Creek, just south of the 50/301 bridge; I'm not sure of its upriver limit, but some was planted in Indian Creek.
The upper tidal limit in Old Man Creek has had some horned pondweed with a bit of sago pondweed for a number of years, and last year I also found some Callitriche (Cl) and slender pondweed there. This year all four species are present at this site and more abundant than ever, and the water in that section of the creek (which ranges to about a foot to a few inches deep at low tide, with some areas exposed) was the clearest I had ever seen (of course I forgot my camera).
One SAV report from somewhere else: Rich Takacs showed me healthy sago pondweed that was growing in the reef balls/fish havens that were placed in Prospect Bay at the north end of Eastern Bay, off the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center property. In some years Eastern Bay has quite a bit of sago pondweed, and this might be one of those.
We have several nice patches of Redhead at the community beach in Arden on the Severn . Some of it is growing in rather deep water 4-6 feet. I noticed it last year and it seems to have come back again this year.
The coordinate I recorded was from the dock ( 30-40' off shore) at the
deepest point that I could see the redhead growing. The patch extends eastward (toward the mouth) for 100' or so...I don't know beyond that point because private piers obstruct my view. It is patchy but has expanded in area from last year's bed. The coordinates are: 39 04.09 N 76 34.77 W.
May 28 and 29 I was down in Tangier Sound. (Quad maps 179, 107 and 099).
We motored north from Tangier Island in to Ewell through the marsh
island complex comprising Goose, Fishbone, Shanks. We were east of the
old power line towers. Eel grass beds were very dense with coverage
near 100% for miles. There was a continuous bed in 2-5' of water that
ran from just north of Goose Island up to Shanks. It appeared that
local watermen had not commenced scraping because of the chilly spring.
Therefore the beds were much more lush than I have seen them in the
I've been out on South River (Quad 30) 2-4 days per week. I have
conducted water quality monitoring at 12 fixed locations around the
River. Sechi depths in the lower River (Selby Bay) were at 1.6 meters
this past Tuesday, June 14. Horned pond weed is continuing to spread
and appears in almost all available habitat in depths up to 6'. Due to
the heat wave, it is beginning to senesce in the shallows but is still
healthy in deeper water. I have observed beds in all identified beds in
the 2004 aerial survey. In addition, I have observed a very dense
(100%) coverage Eurasian watermilfoil in the head of Duvall Creek. This
bed also supports small patches of Zannichellia mixed in. A bed of
Redhead grass that was planted last year in Duvall Creek is back up and
flowering. Another dense bed of milfoil is located in Loden Pond
adjacent to Quiet Waters Park.
I have also observed zannichellia throughout the Cedar Point Complex.
This bed extends approximately 500 yards off shore covering the shoal
water. Dense beds of zannichellia have also been observed in Harness
Creek, Duvall Creek, Little Aberdeen Creek, Aberdeen Creek, Crab Creek,
Church Creek, Gingerville Creek, on the River proper Northeast of
Liberty Marina, Broad Creek, Beard Creek, River proper off of Edgewater
Beach Shady Section, Almshouse Creek, River proper in Gingerville Creek,
River proper east of London Town Public House, River proper off Loch
Haven, throughout Selby Bay, Brewer Creek, Turkey Point and Cherry Cove.
Also of note are the dense and expanding beds of milfoil and the redhead grass we planted in Duvall Creek last year.
I was by Glebe Bay last Tuesday,(June 21st). The Ruppia is up and looks pretty thick . .approximately 50-75% coverage. Also, the bed off of South River Farm park, the Ruppia is up and approximately 100% throughout much of the bed!
06/29/05 Audrey Hansen
Todd Beser and I were out on the Gunpowder last week and the 2 week change was phenomenal!!!!
Wonderful visibility of SAV. Very clear for identification!!!! Great picture opportunity if anyone is interested.
Beds of Myriophyllum, Najas, Potamogetons, Vallisneria, Ceratophyllum, Elodea, along with Zannichellia just creeping up with the Vallisneria.
06/29/05 Peter Bergstrom, NOAA
Magothy, Severn, and South Rivers (Quads 023, 024, 030)
I thought I'd summarize what I have seen so
far, FYI (I wrote about some of it before on June 10 and 13)
So far I've seen:
Generally more horned pondweed than usual
More sago pondweed than usual on the Magothy near Little Island
In the Magothy, redhead grass has spread to Old Man Creek, almost a mile upriver from where I had
found it on the Magothy before, but the new beds are much too small to be seen in the aerial survey.
Widgeongrass growth to the surface seemed slower than usual at some sites, probably due to the
Based on a 4-mile kayak trip on June 18, I saw no sign of redhead grass on the South River other
than what we planted there (no floating fragments, which I saw when kayaking the upper Magothy
recently). I'd love to hear about it if it is there. As usual there is some widgeongrass on the
South River; some of the latter was to the surface on June 18 and some was not. I've noticed that
all widgeongrass is the short form in the winter, and in the summer, some grows into the branched,
flowering long form with apical growth, and some stays in the short basal growth form all summer.
The plant form may be related to wave exposure and other disturbance.
My colleague Steve Giordano here at NCBO has installed a side scan sonar on a 27 foot whaler and
has been using it to do SAV and woody debris surveys on the Rhode and Corsica, and says it can find
small SAV beds in shallow water. We plan to use it to map SAV on the Severn and the rest of the
Chester as well. Reply to me if you'd like to see it in operation (space on the boat is limited).
No live dark false mussels in the upper Magothy, in places where they were very abundant at this
time last year. (There have been a few live ones reported from 2 or 3 sites on the Magothy, nowhere
abundant.) I also did not see the (presumably related) marked improvement in water clarity this June
that I saw at all 3 Magothy sites where I sample water quality last June and early July (I have
measured this at the same 3 sites since 1991). Last year the Secchi depth was 1.5-1.8 m (and Kd was
0.9-1.6) at those three sites in late June/early July, compared to a long term June median Secchi
depth of 0.9 m. This year the Secchi depth at the same sites was 0.45-0.85 m on 6/25 (Kd was
1.8-3.3). If you see any live ones (dark, with closed shells) I'd love to hear about it--the dead
ones from last year are white.
06/30/05 Mike Naylor, MD-DNR
Potomac and Patuxent rivers, Eastern Bay, Little Choptank River, Big and Little Annemessex rivers (Quads 079, 060, 037,051, 093 , 100, 101 )
A few SAV observation notes:
May- Potomac River near Piney Point- widgeon grass sending flowering
shoots to surface, doing beautifully in several locations with some
areas 100% vegetated
May- Patuxent River from Broomes Island to mouth of river- extremely
dense horned pondweed growth, widgeon grass just beginning to emerge and
May- Eastern Bay near the mouth of Miles River- scattered growth of
horned pondweed and widgeon grass, nothing exceptional noted
May- Little Choptank River from Susquehanna Neck out to James Island-
abundant widgeon grass and horned pondweed at several locations,
particularly the area around Ragged Point (which also saw our eelgrass
test plots flowering beautifully)
May- Big and Little Annemessex Rivers- eelgrass flowering and very
abundant in similar areas as last season, watermen reporting that it's a
very good year for eelgrass on Tangier Island and vicinity, however-
widgeon grass growth dramatically reduced from last year- very few
plants seen over three week period (the few plants that we saw were
General heresay- SAV is thriving in many areas of the Patapsco, Bohemia,
Elk, and Sassafras rivers (based on complaint calls and fisherman
The lack of rainfall and cool temperatures over the upper bay area in
the months of May and June resulted in average to above average clarity
in most (but not all) monitoring locations. Hopefully this will
translate to abundant upper bay grasses again this summer...
On June 21st and 22nd, we surveyed for and harvested Trapa (only
significant population was found on Back Creek). We found coontail,
elodea, wild celery and milfoil in all their usual haunts (Lloyds Creek,
Turner Creek, Woodland Creek, Money Creek and Shellcross Neck), though I
would say that so far the density of these grasses is down from previous
years, particularly noticeable in Lloyds Creek. Additionally, it looks
like lilypads are having a banner year. Given how cool our spring was,
we may see more grasses in the Sassafras later in the summer, or so I
Bob Orth, Ben Longstaff, Tim Carruthers & I did SAV ground truthing on
the Honga River yesterday. Mostly we found widgeongrass (the main
species in the medium salinity zone), some of it still in short form and
some starting to flower. Sea nettles had arrived, salinity was
12.8-13.4 ppt, and the Secchi depth was marginal for snorkeling due to a
strong breeze (0.8 m in the Honga, only 0.4 m behind Barren island).
The attached map shows the 6 locations we recorded which I entered in
SAV Watch. Five had only widgeongrass, and one had 4 species. Go to
http://tethys.vims.edu/savwatch/data_entry.cfm and zoom in on the Honga
to see these online; select the "i" button and click on one of the data
points to see the data.
We also found a very dense and healthy sago pondweed bed with numerous
flowers, that Bob had first seen in May and wanted to check again. Sago
pondweed has not been reported in that area recently so we're not sure
how it got there; the nearest large beds have been near Parson's Island
in Eastern Bay, quite a distance north. This bed also had small amounts
of widgeongrass, eelgrass, and horned pondweed.
07/07/05 Bob Orth, VIMS
The 2005 annual survey has begun and I’ve provided a summary below of what we have noted so far for the lower bay as I have done in past years – my ”first look” at the photography. Acquiring the 2005 photography has been a challenge with so few ‘good’ days for flying. In addition the tides have complicated the picture as we have had a lot of days with tides much higher than predicted.
We are receiving some interesting field observations from a number of sources and have posted them on our web site under the 2005 field observations. Please share any of your observations with us, as they are quite valuable to the annual survey in providing species information that is important in understanding community dynamics.
VIMS has on-line it’s SAV Watch site for the direct entry of SAV field observations. We initiated it last year and have worked out a few of the bugs. We got a lot of data from a number of you last year and were quite pleased in how it turned out. The neat thing is it allows anyone to view on-line what species are being reported at the time.
THE 2005 SAV ANNUAL SURVEY
Listed below are the flight lines and the dates they were flown. Locations of those lines are in our annual reports. Also, none of the beds noted here in the 2005 photography have been mapped or digitized and these are simply my first observations from the photography. I have tried to give some reasonable estimate of how beds look in 2005 compared to 2004.
BROAD BAY (CB Segment LYNPH)
(Flight lines 102, 103 flown on June 14) (Quad 152)
SAV is present in a narrow fringe along the southern shore at the entrance to the bay as well as a small area along the north shore. Other beds noted in previous years along the north shore and along shoals at east end remain absent. Field checks in the past have noted eelgrass at the west end and widgeongrass at the east end. Overall abundance does not appear to be substantially different from 2004.
LYNNHAVEN RIVER (CB Segment LYNPH)
(Flight lines 102, 103 flown on June 14 ) (Quad 152)
No SAV was noted and none has been reported from field surveys.
SAV (both eelgrass and widgeon grass) continues to do well along the narrow shoal area in the harbor area where VIMS and ACB had transplanted eelgrass between 1996 and 2000. There does not appear to be any significant changes from 2004 although it does appear a small bed has re-appeared at the mouth of the inlet where dense beds were present years ago but subsequently declined..
DRUM ISLAND FLATS, POQUOSON FLATS AREA, including the BACK and POQUOSON RIVERS (CB Segment MOBPH)
(Flight lines 96, 96a, 97, and 98 flown on June 14) (Quads 140, 141, 147). SAV (both eelgrass and widgeon grass) still appears abundant in a number of areas, notably the large shoal area adjacent to Plum Tree Island National Wildlife Refuge (96-4), and along both shorelines in the lower Back (98-5) and Poquoson rivers. However, the beds along the northern shoreline of Plum Tree Island National Wildlife Refuge and the beds adjacent to Crab Neck appear to be substantially reduced from last year, most likely due to Isabel. The very large bed offshore of Drum Island Flats on what is called Poquoson Flats remains absent. There does not appear to be any significant changes from 2004
LOWER YORK RIVER INCLUDING GOODWN ISLANDS (CB Segment MOBPH, YRKPH)
(Flight lines 93, 95, 96, 96a, 97 flown on June 14) (Quads 130, 131, 132, 139, 140)
Abundance of SAV beds here and dominated by eelgrass, were dramatically influenced by Isabel in 2004, esp. those closer to the mouth. Many of these beds remain very sparse in 2005 and in some places, approaches abundance observed in the late 70’s after Agnes. These areas do have plants but they are quite sparse, but will fuel the recovery which could take up to a decade (based on what we observed with the recovery after Agnes. SAV beds around Goodwin are dense (96A-8) but distribution remains below what we observed 5-10 years ago.
MOBJACK BAY AND THE AREA ABOVE NEW POINT COMFORT LIGHTHOUSE (CB Segment MOBPH, CB8PH)
(Flight lines 91, 91a, 92, 92a, 93, 94; flown on June 14) (Quads 122, 123, 131, 132)
SAV (both eelgrass and widgeon grass) is still abundant in many of the same areas highlighted in previous years. This region contains a significant amount of the SAV in the lower bay and has remained one of the more stable areas. In the Severn, Ware, North and East rivers (91A-1, 93-1, 93-4), many of the SAV beds are present in similar locations and abundances as last year. However, portions of many of the beds along the shoals of this region were affected by Isabel, either being washed out completely or reduced in density. Some of these beds have rebounded and become denser in 2005, e.g., Horn Harbor area (91-2).
PIANKATANK RIVER and MILFORD HAVEN (CB Segment PIAMH)
(Flight lines 89, 90, 91; flown on June 8) (Quads 117, 118, 123)
SAV in the Piankatank and Milford Haven areas remain at low levels similar to those reported in 2004. SAV continues to persist in the patchy beds along the extensive shoal area at north end of Gwynns Island (89-2) (primarily widgeongrass but eelgrass is present in a small band at the east end of that shoal) and in the dense bed, dominated by eelgrass, at the south end of Gwynns Island at "the Hole in the Wall". In the Piankatank River there are some very patchy beds dominated by widgeongrass along both shores up to Healy Creek (some appear smaller than what we observed in 2004); and the large bed (actually less than 5 ha) (dominated by eelgrass with some lesser amounts of widgeongrass) reported in our previous observations in the shoal area off Healy Creek, is still present and more dense than last year (89-5). From field observations we have made of that bed this year, the plants are very robust, with both vegetative and reproductive shoots over a meter long.
LOWER to MIDDLE RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER and CORROTOMAN RIVER (CB Segment RPPMH, CRRMH)
(Flight lines 87a,b,c,d, 88, 147; flown on June 8) (Quads 110, 111, 116, 117, 118)
In 2005, small beds were noted along the north shore at Windmill Pt, Mosquito Islands, at the mouth of Carters Creek, along the shoreline from Carters Creek to the mouth of the Corrotoman, and along both shorelines of the Corrotoman. Most of the beds in this system are dominated by widgeongrass, with eelgrass found primarily at the mouth of the river in the bed off Windmill Pt. There does not appear to be ‘significant’ changes in beds in this system although some of the widgeongrass beds appear a little larger and denser than 2004. As noted in last year’s report, eelgrass planted between 1996 and 2001 off Sanders Cove just above the RT 3 bridge all died out in 2003. There were no beds noted along the south shore, similar to previous years.
WINDMILL POINT (mouth of RAPPAHANNOCK) to SMITH POINT (mouth of POTOMAC) (CB Segment CB5MH)
(Flight lines 83, 84, 85, 86, 138; flown on June 8) (Quads 106, 112)
SAV (both eelgrass and widgeon grass) is present in the same areas as in the past surveys: Fleets Bay, and Dymer, Indian, and Dividing creeks, Dameron Marsh. SAV beds are densest at Dameron Marsh (83-1). Very little SAV is noted in the Great Wicomico River this year. Beds in this general area were ‘hammered’ in 2003 by Isabel and appeared less dense in 2004. However, in 2005, these beds appear to be denser, although the offshore areas remain absent or patchy. The eelgrass bed in Fleets Bay (85-1) continues to be of interest in that it is located in water that is 2 meters deep at low tide, making it one of the deeper eelgrass beds on the western shore!
ST. MARYS RIVER (CB Segment POTMH)
(Flight lines 68, 69; flown June 23) (Quads 80, 89) - SAV abundance is very impressive! SAV, which is pre-dominantly widgeongrass, is doing extremely well in this river in all locations reported in past surveys, from Chicken Cock Creek on the eastern shore, and the tip of St. Georges Island on the western side (69-2:June23, 69-2: June 08). Distribution and abundance appears to be similar to 2004.
ST GEORGE CREEK (CB Segment POTMH)
(Flight lines 68, 69; flown June 23) (quads 80, 89) – SAV abundance is also very impressive here! SAV, which is pre-dominantly widgeongrass, beds have gotten denser in the lower portion of the creek up to Tarkill Cove (68-8)! Distribution and abundance appear similar to 2004.
MAINSTEM LOWER POTOMAC FROM PINEY PT TO THE NORTH END OF ST GEORGE ISLAND (CB Segment POTMH)
(Flight line 68; flown June 23) (quad 89) – patchy SAV present again this year, similar to 2004, from Piney Pt to the bridge going into St. Georges Creek! This is the area where eelgrass has been planted by RKK as compensation for the SAV loss at the Woodrow Wilson site by DC.
HERRING CREEK (CB Segment POTMH)
(Flight lines 68; flown June 23) (Quad 79) –SAV beds are still present here primarily near the creek entrance and is similar to past years.
BRETON BAY (CB Segment POTMH)
(Flight lines 68; flown June 23) (Quads 69, 78) – moderately patchy to dense SAV beds are present this year and appear to be getting denser in 2005. SAV has been increasing in this system over the last few years.
SOUTH OF BRETON BAY ON THE MAINSTEM POTOMAC RIVER
(Flight lines 68; flown June 23) (Quad 78) – There is an impressive amount of SAV just south of Breton Bay along the mainstem for almost two miles down to White Point Beach (68-18). This distribution of this bed is similar to last year and is undoubtedly widgeongrass.
COAN RIVER (CB Segment POTMH)
(Flight lines 79, 80; flown June 23) (Quads 89, 97) – no SAV noted.
YEOCOMICO RIVER (CB Segment POTMH)
(Flight lines 79, 80; flown June 23) (quad 88) – SAV beds reported last year are still present. They occur along the north shore from Lynch Pt into the West Yeocomico . The beds likely consist of widgeongrass.
CAPE CHARLES up to and including BIG MARSH and CHESCONESSEX CREEK (CB Segment CB7PH)
(Flight lines 104-108; flown June 21, 24) (Quads 108, 113, 114, 119, 124, 133, 134, 142) – SAV (eelgrass and widgeongrass) is present at all creek mouths (Old Plantation, Cherrystone, Hungars, Mattawoman, Nassawadox, Occohannock, Craddock, Nandua, Pungoteague, Onancock and Chesconessex creeks), along the southern portion of Big Marsh (107-13), and adjacent to Parker and Finney Islands (107-8). General distribution patterns look similar to 2003, with some beds being denser than 2004. However, there are a few beds in each of the above named areas that are reduced in density from 2003 .
POCOMOKE SOUND (CB Segment POCMH, TANMH)
(Flight lines 107,108, 109, 110; flown June 21) (Quads 100, 101, 108, 109) - SAV (eelgrass and widgeongrass) along the north side (MD portion) around Broad Creek and into Broad Creek going to Crisfield, are present but the beds at the mouth of Broad Creek heading toward Great Fox Island are very patchy compared to 2004. Beds along the southern shore (VA portion) are very dense especially Webb and Halfmoon Islands (107-16) and adjacent to Big Marsh. The large bed west of Webb and Halfmoon Islands (see quad 108) is present and very dense compared to 2004 (107-16). Other, smaller beds noted in previous years are still present, with some denser, while others are more sparse than what was noted in 2004.
SAV is still present but very patchy SAV on the east side of island, similar to last year.
GREAT FOX ISLAND (CB Segment TANMH)
(Flight lines 109, 110, 111; flown June 21) (Quad 100) - SAV (eelgrass and widgeongrass) is present along the east side of the Fox Islands. While a few areas are dense a large portion of the shoal area appears to be much sparser than in 2004. Beds in this area are still quite but reduced from what was recorded in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
TANGIER and SMITH ISLAND (CB Segment TANMH)
(Flight lines 112, 113; flown June 21) (Quads 91, 92, 99, 100, 107) - SAV (eelgrass and widgeongrass) is present in many of the same locations noted in last year’s survey. Beds in some areas are dense (112-2), but SAV in many areas remain sparse from Isabel.
LITTLE ANNEMESSEX RIVER (CB Segment TANMH)
(Flight lines 110, 111; flown June 21) (Quads 100, 101) - Dense beds are present at the mouth of the river on the south side and the large bed directly across from the harbor, as well as many areas in and around Crisfield noted in previous surveys. Beds appear denser than in 2004. These are the beds noted in Mike Naylor’s e-mail and several are the ones that were harvested for flowering shoots using the mechanical harvester.
BIG ANNEMESSEX RIVER
(Flight lines 1, 1A; flown June 21) (Quad 93) - SAV is present primarily in dense beds at or near the mouth, esp. adjacent to Janes Island State Park, as well as Jackson Island at the mouth of Jones Creek on the south shore (1A-3). There appears to be more SAV in 2005 than in 2004.
DEAL ISLAND AND LOWER MANOKIN RIVER
(Flight lines 2, 3, 4; flown June 21) (Quad 84) - However, there is not a lot of SAV in this system in 2005 and what is present is not that different from what was observed in 2005. All of the SAV is at the mouth of the system
If you would like information on a specific site in any of these regions, or if you have any ground data that supports what we are observing on the photographs, please e-mail me or give me a call.
Please share this with any other interested individuals or groups.
07/06/05 Mike Naylor, MD-DNR
There isn't much sago pondweed in the bay proper south of Eastern Bay,
but there are two other potential seed sources that do not show up in
the VIMS survey. For one, many of the roadside ditches throughout the
Eastern Shore have a considerable amount of sago pondweed growing in
them. You can see this all along the drive to Bishop's Head from
Cambridge- not everywhere, but in places where the ditches are deep
enough to hold water throughout the year. I assume some of these plants
or their seeds escape to the open waters of the Honga (as many of these
ditches are tidal).
Also, there are also massive sago pondweed beds in many of the waterfowl
refuges in the area, including Blackwater, Deal Island, Fairmount, and
Fishing Bay. Given that waterfowl can serve as a vector for this
species, it would seem logical that some of these seeds end up in the
To follow up on Mike's comment regarding the "unmapped" ditches along
the eastern shore roads, I drove through Bestpitch and Blackwater region
yesterday and noted flowering of sago and widgeongrass in these ditches.
They seemed awfully productive in terms of density and extent of
colonization. Seems like an ideal area to harvest if you need wild stock.
One more follow up on distribution: the Vallisneria seemed much reduced
along the Potomac in the vicinity of Nanjemoy Creek this year compared
to past years (last year had very dense and extensive beds). I also
found a few Potomageton (nodosus?) plants growing among the wild celery.
I was not completely sure of the identification and since the plant was
small (~8 cm), it did not exhibit all the necessary components of P.
nodosus (which I've only rarely seen). Anyone else see this in the tidal
I was down for the 4th weekend and here are my observations from the upper
Piankatank via kayak:
Widegeon Grass extending approximately 60' from the shoreline from the northern
shore from Andersen Point up to Turk's Ferry along the northern shore.
Many complaints about boaters not being to motor out from their piers.
After the 4th, and much water traffic, it appears that the SAV has
decreased to approx 40' from shore. Don't know whether this has to do with
the boat traffic or water temps rising. However, crab, fish, and minnows
have increased from last year along this stretch of grass (the most I've
seen in 6 years).
Andersen Point is approximately
37:32:46.71N and 76:31:10.73W. Turks Ferry is approximately 37:34:01.56N and
Here are some additional notes to Peter's recent e-mail about SAV in the
Honga River. This is a very interesting system, as past abundance data by
Vern Stotts showed three species abundant eelgrass, widgeongrass, and sago
pondweed. Most of the reports we have gotten in the past have reported
primarily widgeongrass, although eelgrass was noted in some recent
surveys. The recent trip last week was triggered by the findings on our
previous trip on May 18, and the intriguing SAV beds we found at one
On May 18, Bill Dennsion. Tim Carruthers and I went to the Honga River
searching for the elusive 'eelgrass' patch. We re-visited a number of
areas that I groundtruthed in 2002, when we did find eelgrass. The visits
are to capture as much information about the presence/absence of these
plants to add to the growing body of how these plants disperse.
We first checked the extensive bed in Okahanikan Cove in Bloodsworth
Island. It was dominated by widgeongrass but unlike in 2002, we did find
several small patches of eelgrass mixed within the canopy. These patches
were 0.1 to 0.2 m^2^, and we noted that there were no flowering shoots,
suggesting that the patches were derived from seeds the year before. The
widgeongrass was thick and absolutely wonderful!
We next poked our nose inside the CBF breakwater at Bishops Head. We found
one very small patch of eelgrass with some widgeon also. The amount of
eelgrass was much less than what I observed in 2002.
We moved over to Rippons Harbor off Middle Hooper Island and found abundant
eelgrass along the north edge of the channel. There was a lot of eelgrass
in 2002 in this location but what was striking was again the absence of
flowering shoots, which should have been present given the time of
year. There was a fair amount of widgeongrass also.
We went to Bentley Pt where SAV, dominated by widgeongrass, was quite
sparse. We found one small patch of eelgrass.
Next we headed to Asquith Island off Cedar Pt and found moderately dense
widgeongrass and many more patches of eelgrass.
We wrapped up the day checking out a fairly substantial SAV area from Lakes
Cove to Wrotten Island. The SAV was very different than what we had seen
anywhere else, being extremely long and dense! As it turns out, this was
an extremely robust bed of sago pondweed, which was not flowering in June
but was in July when Peter came out with us. The dense bed was at least a
half mile long and over a hundred yards wide and 100% cover. It was indeed
absolutely impressive! And this was the only location we found sago so
the big question, why here and no where else. Mike Naylor and Bob Murphy alluded to sago sightings in ditches in their responses. But it may be
waterfowl that could be transporting seeds as the most parsimonious reason
for it being here. What was also pretty neat was the presence of
widgeongrass, and numerous small patches of eelgrass (with no flowering
again), within the dense canopy of sago. Our SAV hunting was limited to
the sites indicated, so it is possible there may be more sago, - however,
what is interesting is that the signature on the aerial photography was
very distinct for this spot, again due to that dense canopy I have not
seen that signature elsewhere in the Honga, but again, it is possible for
some to be here but it may not be that dense.
We did not find any eelgrass above Wroten Island - that's cool in that it
may give us some interesting insights about what may be limiting eelgrass's
dispersal up into the Honga.
So, the bottom line for the Honga - lots of widgeongrass, as reported
previously. But now we have a very dense area of sago pondweed, and
eelgrass in a bunch of other locations. This is a pretty cool system and
it will be neat to follow what happens in subsequent years to the sago bed
and all those patches of eelgrass which were not flowering! Will they
flower next year (if they make it?)?
I paddled up into Piney Point Creek on the morning of July 17. I surveyed
the entire shoreline of the northern branch of the creek and part of the
southern branch. The water was noticeably more turbid in the northern
branch. Using the white blade of my paddle I guesstimated that the secchi
depth was between 0.3 and 0.4 meters in the northern branch and between
0.5 and 1.0 meters in the southern branch. In the northern branch I
observed drifting plants of horned pond weed (Zannichellia palustris),
widgeon grass (Ruppia maritima) and Eurasian watermilfoil (Myriophyllum
spicatum). I found a couple patches of attached widgeon grass and water
milfoil. The tide level was high and the water turbid, so I could only
see the SAV when it came close to the surface. In the southern branch,
there were large clumps of flowering shoots of widgeon grass that had
washed up into the edge of the saltmarsh. I did see large attached stands
of this species on the west side of the creek, south of the opening.
Water clarity has been pretty good for the most part this summer. I
went by the widgeon bed just south east of Quiet Waters Park off of the
Hillsmere Community and saw that it was dense in places, patchy and
0-25% in others and that it is definitely being impacted by mud getting
stirred up from boat wakes on weekends. In fact, there was a very large
plume throughout most of the near-shore area including the bed.
Sechi depths today in the lower River ranged from 0.8 - 1.3 meters.
The expansion of redhead grass in upper Magothy, to which I referred in the update, is shown in the attached map with observations from early this month. I'm fairly sure I found the upriver limit, near the old Riverdale restaurant, but I have not finished surveying the downriver areas yet. Note that redhead was starting to spread upriver in 1999 (a drought year) but then seemed to stop; the planting we did in 2002-2003 at the location shown must have helped it spread upriver, but we'll never know exactly how much of the new redhead came from what we planted. I need to check if any of the other rivers that had dark false mussels last year have mussels again this year, and if they have had any similar expansions of SAV in the areas with DFM (especially the upper Severn and South rivers, Patapsco, Wye, and Corsica rivers, all of which had DFM last year). Any help any of you can give in this search would be appreciated, with lat/longs if at all possible. The new redhead beds on the upper Magothy are in very shallow water and thus are best found by canoe or kayak at low tide--I went under piers as much as possible to stay close to shore.
I don't know what others have been seeing, but one spot I have surveyed
in the Chester River (Shipping Creek-Lat 39-07-50N Long 76-06-50W) for
many years has now been checked twice in 2005, and though there may be
some SAV hiding, appears to have little or no growth at the present.
In 2004 there was an elodea bed of approximately 10 acres extent, along
with small patches of wigeon grass. Secchi depths on both survey dates
(mid June, late July) were in the .6-.65 m range. I could not find any
dark mussels on the pilings. I plan on surveying Eastern Neck the end
of this week. There are some beds of millfoil along the Chestertown
waterfront, and some evidence (fragments washed up on the beach) of
growth above Chestertown.
I have surveyed Eastern Neck narrows on both the Bay and River sides.
Both sides have very good SAV growth, perhaps the best I have seen since I
started surveying in the late 90's-several tens of acres.
There are large areas of redheaded grass, wigeon grass, elodea, and
millfoil. Redheaded grass seems to have really expanded this year-last
year there were clumps and small areas, this year there are large
beds. For the most part, the redheaded grass is in the high energy
environment, and the wigeon grass and millfoil in the lesser energy
areas. I have so far covered the island shore on the Chester River side
from the bridge to Boxes Point (~39-03.15N 76-12.8W across to Ringgold
Point (39-03.3N 76-12.75W on the mainland, and both shores of Church Creek
to a latitude of 39-05N. SAV coverage is generally from the shore out to
3.5-4' of depth at low water in the river. In Church Creek the majority
of the growth is on the eastern shore, from the shoreline out to the same
approximate depths. There is some patchy growth on the western shore of
Church Creek-wigeon grass from the middle of the creek to the head,
redheaded grass from the mouth to the midsection. On the bay side I have
covered the shoreline of the island from the bridge down to approximately
the site of the old headquarters building-39-02.6N 76-14.5W. Here again
redheaded grass is found in the high energy open areas and millfoil is
found in the somewhat sheltered areas of Tubby Cove and Calfpasture
Cove. I saw no coontail this year-there was some at the southern extent
of this survey area in 2004. Secchi depths ranged all over the place from
less than .5m to over 1 m in the vicinity of the densest beds. The
salinity on the bay side near Calfpasture Cove was 10 ppt.
08/02/05 Terry Willis
Swan Creek, Fairlee Creek, Chester River (Quads 015, 020, 022)
Swan Creek has millfoil beds along the
southern shore. Two weeks ago they did not look quite as good as last
year, but they were coming on after what appears to be a late start (cool
weather?). Fairlee Creek also has
millfoil beds along the northeastern shore from just inside the entrance
around Great Oak Marina. There is also some wild celery growing here-just
a few patches. This is the only wild celery I have seen south of Still
Pond Creek, which also has some millfoil beds. There is decent growth of
millfoil along the Chestertown waterfront on the Chester, and there is
indirect evidence (washed up on beaches) of growth above Chestertown,
which I have yet to locate. It may be where it was last year- or maybe
closer to Crumpton.
Durding Creek and Shipyard Creek on the river side of Eastern Neck have
dense beds of SAV. In Durding the north side is primarily covered with
millfoil, with small amounts of wigeon grass, redhead grass and elodea
mixed in. The southern side is primarily wigeon grass and is more patchy,
but coverage is still good. Shipyard Creek follows the same
pattern-millfoil on the north side with elodea, wigeon and redhead grass
mixed in, the southern side primarily wigeon grass and more patchy. This
is the best coverage of Shipyard I have ever seen (since late 90's), and I
have never seen the southern side of Shipyard Creek have any SAV. There
is also a small cove just north of Durding Creek, marked on some maps as
Bogle's Cove that is also densely covered with redhead grass with lesser
amounts of wigeon grass and elodea mixed in.
Secchi depths in these areas ranged from .6m to over a meter in the
vicinity of the beds. Salinity in Durding Creek is 10 ppt, remaining down
from what it had been in the bad SAV years. The wigeon grass currently is
producing seeds, and there appears to be a good crop.
My wife and I kayaked the creek at low tide yesterday (August 15th). The large
area in the middle of the channels that show SAV in the aerial image seem
to be devoid of SAV now suggesting that this was probably
Zannichellia. There's lots of Ruppia maritima along the shore, often in
very shallow water (exposed at low tide) and some Myriophyllum spicatum (Ms) in
the northern branch. The Ms had died back some from my first survey in July.
09/01/05 Bob Orth, VIMS
SAV observations in upper Bay from aerial photography
It's been a long, hot, and hazy summer, which unfortunately has meant few
good days for aerial photography. We were able to acquire 5 lines on Aug.
21, the only nice day of the month, of the Elk, Bohemia and Sassafras
rivers. Below are my observations from those photos. It is pretty impressive!
SASSAFRAS RIVER (CB Segment SASOH)
(Flight line 39, flown on Aug. 21) (Quads 9, 10, 16, 17) SAV beds are indeed very impressive! There is patchy to dense SAV along the
main stem of the lower portion of this river from Betterton to Island and
Woodland creeks on the south shore and Grove Pt. to Back Creek on the north
shore. Interestingly, the beds present in Lloyd Creek are not as dense as
we observed last year, which is confirmed by MD-DNR ground
surveys. Overall, there appears to be more SAV this year than what we
observed in 2004. Some of the beds that were patchy in 2004 are now
ELK RIVER (CB Segments ELKOH, C&DOH)
(Flight line 40, flown on Aug. 21) (Quads 4, 5, 10) SAV abundance is as impressive as it was last year! (There are 'heaps' of
SAV for my Aussie friends!) There is patchy to dense SAV along almost the
entire length of the Elk. Piney Cove is one big bed! In particular, the
beds in the upper Elk just above the entrance of the C&D canal especially around
Paddy Biddle Cove are awesome!
BOHEMIA RIVER (CB Segment BOHOH)
(Flight line 41, flown on Aug. 21) (Quads 10, 11) SAV is very dense along both shores from the Rt. 213 bridge to the
mouth. The distribution is similar to what we noted in 2004 but many
sparse beds are now dense, and some beds have extended their distribution
further offshore especially Veazey Cove, which has very dense beds up to 600
meters from shore.
MAIN STEM CHESAPEAKE BAY FROM FAIRLEE CREEK TO THE MOUTH OF THE SASSAFRAS
RIVER (CB Segment CB2OH)
(Flight lines 38, 38A, flown on Aug. 21) (Quads 15, 16, 21) Fringing SAV beds are present at the mouth and head of Fairlee Creek (these
were not observed in 2004). SAV beds are also present in Churn and Still
Pond creeks along their entire length, which appear to be a little more
abundant than what was observed in 2004.
A recent update on SAV in South River. The Watermilfoil bed that
covered the cove I live in on Duvall Creek is gone. There has been a
persistent algae bloom for the last three weeks to a month and every bit
of grass is gone. The Redhead planting from last year has been impacted
by the poor water quality, but the bed is still present and very dense,
though smaller than it was earlier in the summer. There is no sign of
the new plantings that were put in earlier in the summer.
09/06/05 Terry Willis
Chester River (Hail Creek) and Swan Creek (Quads 020, 026)
Hail Creek on Eastern Neck was surveyed on September 4. Proceeding up the
creek there are good, dense, beds of redhead grass extending outward from
the shore 50-100 feet on the left hand side. There are also beds of
redhead grass on the right side, not as dense, and not extending into the
creek as far from the shoreline. Once the creek turns to the right there
are infrequent patches of wigeon grass off the left bank, nothing off the
right bank. The head of the creek past the last turn to the right is
covered with elodea with some wigeon grass mixed in, but with less
coverage than in 2004. Water clarity was very bad, less than .4 -.5 m in
most cases, even in the vicinity of the grass beds. There looked to be a
lot of sediment in the water column, which was of note, as there has been
little rain here recently.
Swan Creek, north of Rock Hall, also has very low clarity this year with
grass beds that are not as robust as in 2004, at least along the southern
I've seen redhead grass in the Magothy every year since 1992, but it's
been limited to areas from Forked Creek downriver on the south shore, with
a few patches farther upriver on South Ferry Point, but very few patches
on the north shore. The shoreline from North & South Ferry Point upriver
had a little bit of widgeongrass in Swan Cove on the north shore (see
links to maps below), but mostly it was just horned pondweed. We know
that in 1978 (the first baywide SAV survey, see attached section of map
23) there were beds of what must have been more persistent SAV species
mapped from North & South Ferry Point upriver to Cattail Creek, and that
redhead grass (called Pr on that map, not Ppf), sago pondweed (called Pc,
not Ppc) and wild celery (called Va as it is now) were all found in this area.
Thus I was very pleased to find redhead grass returning in 2005 to the
same areas where it was probably mapped in 1978, from North & South Ferry
Point upriver, in 2005. The other attached map (Magothy Ppf 091405) shows
where I have found redhead grass this year in this area. One of the
locations (reported by George Kerchner) is in almost exactly the same spot
where it was mapped in 1978. The beds in Swan Cove & on South Ferry point
were still dense and healthy as of early this month (9/2/05), but the
presumably newer redhead beds from Steedmans Point upriver, which I saw in
July, were almost completely gone by early September. SAV beds were
mapped in Swan Cove in 2004
(bed L3), as they have been for a number of years, but unfortunately I did
not manage to ground truth them in 2003 or 2004. One person who lives on
Swan Cove told me they saw redhead grass there last year as well,
though. I did ground truth the SAV beds in Swan Cove in 2002 and they did
not appear to contain redhead grass, just widgeongrass and a bit of wild
I had only found a small patch of redhead grass in Swan Cove
once before, in 1999
(bed B4). This year most of the Swan Cove and South Ferry Point beds also
contained widgeongrass, and in addition, South Ferry Point has wild celery
in several places, as it has for a number of years.
Magothy River Association volunteers planted redhead grass near the mouth
of Cockey Creek in 2002-2003 (at site 171 on the attached 2005 map), and
most of it survived through this year and appeared to spread to nearby
areas on the north shore. However, the sheer size of the redhead beds in
Swan Cove makes me doubt whether they also came from this source. They
could have started from redhead grass seeds brought there from South Ferry
Point or the lower Magothy, or the Severn River, by waterfowl who were
eating other SAV species growing in Swan Cove.
Why did upper Magothy redhead grass increase so much in the last 2
years? The main thing that changed in the upper Magothy in 2004-2005 was
that the water got clearer, probably from a big increase in dark false
mussels. There were more mussels last year than this year because the
salinity is higher this year. I did not find any mussels on the mainstem
of the river downriver of Henderson & Steedmans Points this year, but they
were reported on South Ferry Point last year, where they are absent this
year. The state water quality monitoring station, WT6.1, which is between
North & South Ferry points, had two SAV growing season months (May and
July) with record high Secchi depths in 2004, and none so far in 2005. I
will be giving a talk on the effects of the mussels on water clarity, and
these SAV increases, at ERF on Tuesday 10/18 at 11:00.
09/15/05 Bob Orth, VIMS
Aerial Update of Patuxent River
Below are our observations of the aerial photography flown on Sept. 2 and
6, including the middle and lower Potomac River, upper Rappahannock River,
and the parts of Patuxent River, including the tidal freshwater portions.
Bottom line SAV looks great in the upper Patuxent, and the MD side of the
As for additional news of the survey, we were very fortunate in that we
were able to fly the Aberdeen Proving Ground lines on Tuesday, Sept. 13,
the first time we were allowed in that restricted area on a weekday in 20+
years. As you may know, Air Photographics must have an APG observer on the
plane during the flight. Upon completion, APG retains the film under lock
and key until it is developed. We cannot ascertain the clarity of the SAV
signature until next Tuesday when the film will be hand-carried to Air
Photographics by APG staff. I will be going to Air Photo in Martinsburg,
WV, on Tuesday, Sept. 20, to meet APG staff and assess the SAV status on
the photography there since we are not allowed to retain prints or
negatives of APG since 9-11. However, field observations by Mike Naylor
who was out on the Flats that same day, suggest that we will have good
photography for that area as the water clarity was superb and SAV was very
abundant. The Flats appear to be having a banner year with SAV and water
clarity is outstanding.
In the Upper tidal freshwater Patuxent SAV continues to thrive on the
narrow shoals first noted in 1994. The first observable SAV bed is small
and is located at the mouth of Cocktown Creek, but more frequent, dense
beds begin a bit further up near Fridays Creek and White Landing and
continue just past the Rt. 4 bridge. In the river section above Jug Bay,
where SAV is noticeably dense and very abundant, SAV exist as a very narrow
fringe (< 2 m) along both shores. As we have mentioned in years past, many
of the small creeks that enter the Patuxent River in this region have SAV
beds that line both banks. These are beds that are impossible to map at
the scale used by the annual report but can be seen in the photography. My
guestimate is that we will see some additional acreage, but not a lot,
since there is very little additional available habitat for SAV
No SAV was observable in St. Leonard Creek
LOWER TO MIDDLE POTOMAC RIVER
BRETON BAY (CB Segment POTMH)
(Flight lines 68, 72; flown Sept. 2) (quads 69, 78) Dense SAV beds are
present this year along both shorelines from the mouth to Lovers Pt. The
beds appear to be denser and more abundant than in 2004 (note- we flew over
this area in June and the beds we noted back then are still present and
denser, as well as the dense beds just south of Bretons Bay along the
ST. CLEMENT BAY (CB Segment POTMH)
(Flight lines 68, 72; flown Sept. 2) (quads 69, 78) -
SAV abundance is
very impressive here this year again. There are very dense beds along both
shores from the mouth to Cedar Point on the north shore to Tenneson Creek
on the south shore. The beds likely consist of
widgeongrass. Interestingly, some of the smaller creeks have SAV beds this
year but not 2004. They are located at the upper reaches and have a very
different "signal" compared to what I am interpreting as
widgeongrass. Perhaps it might be milfoil?
WICOMICO RIVER - (CB Segment POTMH)
(Flight lines 72, 73, 74, 74A; flown Sept. 2) (quads 58, 67, 68, 162).
is notably denser and more abundant at the head of the river in and
adjacent to Allens Fresh Run compared to 2004. SAV beds are present in
other sections of the river, but for the most part, much of the river
remains unvegetated. Some small coves in the creeks have small, but dense
beds that were not present in 2004. There are some dense beds at the mouth
of the river adjacent to St. Catherine's Island, and St. Catherine Sound,
between Bluff Point and White Point Island, as well as in the small creeks
in this general region. Generally, it appears there is slightly more SAV
here than in 2004.
COBB ISLAND AREA (CB Segment POTMH)
(Flight lines 72, 73, flown Sept. 2) (quads 67, 68)-
SAV is present in
small bands around Cobb Island, somewhat similar to last year. SAV around
Neale Sound, just above Cobb Island, is very dense, similar to last year.
CUCKHOLD AND PICCOWAXEN CREEKS AND ADJACENT AREAS (CB Segment POTMH)
(Flight line 72, flown Sept. 2) (quad 67)
SAV is very dense along both
shores in these two creeks, as well as along the shoals above Piccowaxen
creek, again somewhat similar to last year. There is also a small SAV bed
in the cove just down from the power station at Morgantown.
PORT TOBACCO RIVER (CB Segment POTOH)
(Flight lines 119, 120, 121, 133; flown Sept. 2) (quads 57).
SAV is present as a narrow fringe along both shorelines to the head of the
river, similar to last year but the overall abundance appears to be greater
than what was noted in 2004. SAV in Goose Creek is very dense.
NANJEMOY CREEK (CB Segment POTOH)
(Flight lines 119, 120, 121; flown Sept. 2) (quads 56, 57).
SAV is very dense and abundant in this system esp. in Hill Top Fork and
Burgess Creek. Dense beds line the river to Blossum Pt on the north side
and Benny Gray Pt on the south side. There is and SAV bed between Blossum
Pt and Upper Cedar Pt on the mainstem but no observable SAV above this
place all the way to Port Tobacco River. There are some SAV beds between
of Benny Gray Pt. and Maryland Pt. SAV is more abundant than in 2004.
MAINSTEM POTOMAC: SMITH POINT TO POSEY WHARF (CB Segment POTOH)
(Flight line 124; flown Sept. 2) (quads 55, 56). SAV is very dense in this general region, which includes Mallows Bay, and
is similar to what was mapped in 2004
LOWER TO MIDDLE POTOMAC RIVER
VIRGINIA SIDE (CB Segment POTMH, POTOH)
(Flight lines 76A- 80, 118, 121, flown Sept. 2, 3) (quads 57, 64, 65, 66,
67, 76, 77, 78, 87, 79, 80).
There are few, if any, SAV beds in many of the tributaries from Mathias
Point just above the 301 bridge down to Lower Machodoc Creek. The only
creek that appears to have a substantial population of SAV is Popes Creek
just below Colonial Beach. SAV in Potomac Creek is present at slightly
higher levels than 2004, but substantially less than what we have noted in
earlier years. Finally, there are dense SAV beds in Chotank Creek, just
above Mathias Pt. similar to what we have noted in past years and a small
fringing bed just south of Mathias Pt. In general, the Virginia side of
this section of the Potomac has much less SAV than the MD side.
UPPER RAPPAHANOCK RIVER (CB Segment RPPTF)
(flight lines 142-144 flown Sept. 2) (quads 200, 201, 231)
The only SAV beds that we are able to discern above Tappahannock are small
fringing beds around Otterburn Marsh, Drakes Marsh, and in a small marsh
just below Otterburn Marsh. SAV beds noted in previous years around
Horsehead Pt. are not present this year. Interestingly, we noted what
appears to be SAV in the very upper reaches of some creeks above
Tappahannock that were not visible in years past.
We were out on the bush river on Sept. 13th and clarity up in the Otter Point Creek area was pretty poor so i'm curious if you'll see the Hydrilla up there. It's definitely reduced from last year both in distribution and biomass but still present. We were able to make it down about half the river and clarity was better, but still reduced. I think there was a bloom going on, possibly due to the wastewater treatment plant on the river and no dilution (rain events). Regardless I'd expect grass to show up below the railroad bridge but would be curious to know if the grass above the bridge shows up. There is both Hydrilla in Otter Point Creek and the eastern cove of Church Creek.
We did some quick groundtruthing in the areas we were able to get into along the river and we found Hydrilla up to about 3ppt in one of the coves (Lauderick Creek) but the other cove (slightly down river-Redmons Cove) at a little over 4ppt the Hydrilla (earlier in the year) has shifted to Elodea.
I have been down to Dundee this year and it is less then last
year with a different community make up though. There is much more redhead; it has
replaced some of the Vallisneria. Definitely not as much of the Elodea and Najas
guadalupensis present that in good years has been the dominant ground cover down
There was an expansion of Redhead (in the Gunpowder).
Also, we sampled a few points up in the Church Creek/Bush Creek area and
it was all Hydrilla. At the time we sampled, it was very dense (70-100%).
09/26/05 Bob Orth - VIMS
Below are our observations of the aerial photography flown on Sept. 2, 3
and 13, which includes the Chester River (including Eastern Neck Narrows),
Eastern Bay, Choptank and Little Choptank rivers, the Bush and Gunpowder
rivers in the Aberdeen Proving Grounds, the Back, Middle and Patapsco
rivers. However, here are some caveats:
1. Much of the lower Choptank and Little Choptank rivers turbid conditions
in some sections at the time of the flight so they will be reflown when
water clarity improves. However, we did see evidence of SAV beds in
Harris, Broad and Irish creeks and the Tred Avon River. These SAV beds
were present in 2004 and appear to have persisted through the summer. We
just could not make out the offshore edges in some places. Also, the dense
beds often noted for Trippe and Brannock bays appear to be absent this year.
2. Photographs of the APG area, which I saw last week at Air Photographics
in Martinsburg, are now 'secured' at APG. My notes here are based on a
very quick review of those photographs and will be as detailed as I can
recall from that quick glance. We will not get those images back but will
get digital images with APG 'blacked' out for security reasons. We have
been receiving some good ground information from Todd Beser and Julie Bortz
from that area so we have a pretty good picture of SAV status
there. However, I do want to thank Rurik Loder of APG for the very timely
delivery of the film especially given the security issues he has to deal with.
Most of the SAV in this region is along the Eastern Neck Island and Narrows
area (probably 90% or greater). SAV is present on both sides of the
Narrows and looks great, especially on the broad shoal facing the
Chesapeake Bay. Dense beds are present in the numerous creeks and coves of
Eastern Neck Island, primarily on the Chester River side, including Hail,
Shipyard, Durding creeks and Bogles Cove, in some places more than last
year. SAV is present in Church Creek, but primarily along the eastern
shoreline. The remainder of SAV appears to be primarily restricted to
small coves, e.g. Robin Cove, or very small fringing beds in Reed or Grove
creeks. Some beds appear to be reduced from 2004, e.g. in the Corsica
River. While there is a dense bed in Queenstown Creek SAV here is much
less than in 2004. According to ground observations from Terry Willis, who
has been providing us with excellent ground data, redhead, widgeongrass,
milfoil and elodea are the species in these beds with some very interesting
distributional changes over small spatial scales (his observations can be
seen on our web site for the 2005 ground observations). One interesting
observation is appearance of SAV beds for the first time, above Chestertown
in an area just down from Ducks Cove Campground. The beds, ranging from
patchy to dense, are probably milfoil, as Terry has noted fragments washing
up on the beach at Chestertown.
THE ROCK HALL AREA (CB Segment CB3MH)
(Flight line 33, flown Sept. 13) (quads 20, 21).
There is much less SAV in Swan and Tavern Creek this year, with most of the
SAV being present in Rock Hall Harbor or Huntingfield Creek, although SAV
in Huntingfield Creek is less than 2004. Terry Willis has reported wild
celery in this area.
EASTERN BAY AREA (CB Segment EASMH)
(Flight lines 22-32, flown Sept. 2, 3, 13) (quads 32, 33, 36, 37).
SAV is abundant in the northern section of this region, with the most
significant beds being in Marshy Creek, with very dense beds along all
shorelines. Many of the coves at the north end of Kent Island (which you
can see from Rt 50) have very dense beds. Other areas with significant
amounts of SAV are in Crab Alley Bay, along both shorelines, and in Cox
Creek, with some very dense beds in the very upper sections of the
creek. There are pockets of dense SAV in Kirwin and Goodhands creeks
across from Marshy Creek. There is no SAV in the Miles and Wye rivers or
in the southern sections of Eastern Bay, or west side of Kent Island, e.g.,
the Romancoke area. There are reports of SAV in some sections of this
region (e.g. Prospect Bay) that had SAV (probably widgeongrass) earlier in
the summer but which died out mid-summer before the aerial survey was
PATAPSCO RIVER (CB Segment PATMH)
(Flight lines 52-53, flown Sept. 13) (quads12, 13, 18, 19).
There are some dense beds in the Middle Branch of the Patapsco where we
noted them last year, and a number of beds at the mouths of the small
creeks at the mouth of the Patapsco (e.g. Stony Creek). In Shallow Creek(where Peter Bergstrom has conducted his transplanting), there are some
small beds along the western margins both in front of and behind the old
railroad tracks and a small bed in Old Road Bay.
BACK AND MIDDLE RIVERS AREAS (CB Segments BACOH, MIDOH)
(Flight lines 48-51, flown Sept. 13) (quads 13, 14, 19).
There is no SAV in the Back River, although we did detect some small beds
near the mouth in 2004, which were absent this year. SAV beds begin
adjacent to Rocky Point Park and continue north into Browns Creek and into
the Middle River, where SAV is found in most sections of the river,
although it appears somewhat reduced from 2004. SAV is also noted along
the south and west side of Hart Miller Island, parts of Seneca Creek, and
around the Carroll Islands.
BUSH AND GUNPOWDER RIVERS, ABERDEEN PROVING GROUNDS AND ADJOINING AREAS (CB
Segments CB1TF, BSHOH, GUNOH, CB2OH)
(Flight lines 46-51, flown Sept. 13) (quads 7, 8, 9, 13, 14, 15). Significant beds are found along both shores in both rivers. Beds at Days
Cove in the Gunpowder are very dense. However beds appear reduced from
2004 in the Otter Pt. Creek and Church Creek area at the head of the Bush
River, as well as in Dundee Creek off the Gunpowder River. There are dense
beds in both Romney and Little Romney Creeks and in Spesutie Narrows, areas
that have had robust beds in the past.
Susquehanna Flats AREA (CB Segment CB1TF)
(Flight line 46, flown Sept. 13) (quads 3, 9).
The last two frames on line 46 cover the south and western side of the
Flats. All I can say AMAZING! It confirms what we have been hearing from
ground observations very dense populations this year and much more dense
than in 2004. Note that we still have to fly the Susquehanna River and the
east and north sections of the Flats, including the Northeast River Can't
09/26/05 Bob Orth - VIMS
I wanted to alert all of you to an interesting (and possibly disturbing)
phenomenon we have observed with eelgrass here in the lower bay. As many
of you know, eelgrass undergoes an annual, summer defoliation, with
detached leaves forming large floating wracks that end up on beaches around
the bay. This phenomenon normally takes place around late June or
July. However, it appears this defoliation has continued through the
summer. Our observation of many areas that had robust eelgrass this past
spring, including areas where we have had successful transplants, have
found these areas are completely defoliated with only a rhizome mat visible
at the sediment surface. We have found a few areas, notably at the mouth
of the Mobjack Bay near New Point lighthouse that have some live eelgrass
leaves, but even at these locations the density of plants is far less than
what we have observed in previous falls. The other location where we have
found plants still present is at our seaside eelgrass restoration site but
even here plant density is less than last fall.
Our current thinking about what contributed to this die-off is possibly a
combination of hot summer water temperatures, low winds, and possibly lower
light levels. Ken Moore's published research has suggested that these
conditions (high temperature and lower light) are a recipe for poor
eelgrass survival, which might explain why we have noted plants only at
locations where the bay or ocean waters would have the greatest positive
effect on plant survival (New Point or seaside bays). I have not observed
this phenomenon since 1975 when eelgrass also defoliated all over the bay
in the summer. We have aerial photos from Nov. 1975, which show many sites
without any eelgrass signatures on the film, except at the areas closest to
What happens in 2006 remains unknown but I do know eelgrass rebounded in
1976, but the extent of the rebound was not determined since we were not
doing aerial surveys back then (and remember we were also only four years
post-Agnes and many eelgrass beds were already at an all time low). We
know we had a successful flowering season in 2005 well before this dieback
so we have seeds in the sediment. These will germinate in November and
December. Some of the rhizomes may still be alive which we may see some
re-growth later this fall (late November or December) but the full extent
of recovery may not be fully determined until May, 2006. This may be a
unique opportunity to assess natural recovery and the relative
contributions of seeds and remaining living shoots to this recovery. This
will be manifested in the percentage of reproductive shoots present since
seedlings for this year's seed crop will not produce reproductive shoots
until spring 2007.
If any of you are out in the field in areas that have supported eelgrass, I
would appreciate your letting me know what you find.
And for all of you following the SAV story in the upper bay around the
Susquehanna Flats, what a contrast! Wow- and just when you think you have
a handle on things!
Here is the one image from flight line 46 taken Sept. 13 that is of west
section of the Flats I mentioned in my update. The first image is a
composite of the 2004 imagery showing the entire region with that one photo
superimposed on it to show you the general area I mentioned. The second
image is the photo itself where you can see the dense SAV in this area. As
a reference, when we started the annual aerial survey in 1984, you could
barely see a clump. Now beds are very dense and are covering a huge
expanse of bottom. Unbelievable!
I did go do some exploring in the upper Chester, from the public landing
on Buckingham Rd. (Kent Co. or northwestern side) going north.
From the landing north there is patchy millfoil out to about 75 feet
from shore. Nothing very dense, just clumps that are maybe 10 feet or so
apart. I went northeast to about latitude 39-15.6N longitude 75-59.2W
(from ADC Northern Chesapeake Chart) just short of the last sharp bend
before Duck Neck Campground. I also saw small floating bits of wild
celery. I returned on the Queen Annes shore and found some sparse wild
celery growing just north of and across the mouth of Foreman
Branch. Secchi depths in this region were .7-.8 m for the most part.
Am I correct in that last year was the first year of record for SAV above
the Chester River Bridge? What I saw this year in this area was more
widespread than what was there last year. I will try to go back and
access the area below the campground to explore down to where I left off
in the above survey. Earlier in the season I visited the campground by
land and did see wild celery pieces washed up along the shore. This area
is currently undergoing a WRAS by the county and state governments and
these observations are very pertinent. I will also check with the Chester
River Association if anyone from there has checked the Corsica.
Any thoughts as to why Shippen Creek is barren this year when it was
covered very densely last season. It is surrounded by mostly agricultural
land and has about 3-4 houses along the waterfront, but they have been
there for years. In past seasons this area was covered mostly with
elodea, with some wigeon grass in the head of the creek.
Are there natural causes that take a large bed like this out? I'm
thinking it can't be something like salinity like we saw in the late 90's
because that would be more widespread than just this one area.
Also, my Eastern Neck sampling station is still reporting salinity at the
river mouth as in the 10-11 ppt range. Has there been any research on
different agriculture herbicides on SAV-I do remember seeing something
years ago about the effects of atrazine on different species of SAV, but I
believe the research was in a lab microcosm, and I'm wondering if the
farmer changed crops from corn to soybeans (or vice versa) which use
different herbicides if that could have some effect.
Susquehanna Flats (Quad 003) and Hawk Cove (Quad 013)
Attached is a map of where we stopped in the Flats
and what we found on 9/23--12 species at Stump Pt.
Today I went to Hawk Cove next to Rocky Pt State Park, where we planted
wild celery with Jim Anderson's machine in 2003. No evidence that any of
those plants survived--there were scattered patches of short sparse Va but
some was already growing there in 2003, and most were not in the area
planted. The Secchi depth was 0.65, appeared to be churned up by wind
over the last few days, but the visibility was much worse than that
suggests; we could not see any of the plants from the surface, and could
barely see them in the view scope. The plants looked dirty, very similar
to how they looked on Shallow Creek last week. No trace of any of the
redhead grass or curly pondweed we saw there in 2003. Salinity was 10 ppt
(high for that site, same as in Shallow Creek) and we saw several sea nettles.
On Friday 9/30 I surveyed the upper Chester from latitude
39-14.50N longitude 75-59.15W (approximate, from ADC Northern Chesapeake
Bay Chart)-just up river from Foreman Branch- to latitude 39-14.4N
longitude 75-57.8W- just up from the public landing on the Queen Anne's
side. On the Queen Anne's side going from Duck Neck campground down
river there were small patches of millfoil, with the greatest amount
around the small peninsula at latitude 39-14.6N longitude 75-59.2W. At
this point the patches were approximately 10-15 feet apart, with bare
river bottom in between. I saw no dense beds though this appears to be
where the photograph showed the dense beds.
Maybe what was there earlier has already died back, though other locations
elsewhere still seem to have good canopies. The water was very silty,
with secchi depths less than .4-.5 m. My suspicion is that the
west-northwest winds of the previous day had stirred up the settled
sediments. I don't think water clarity affected the observations as the
tide was fairly low, also as a result of the wind. The opposite bank
(Kent County) did not appear to have had any growth in this stretch,
though I saw an occasion piece of floating wild celery.
On Saturday, 10/1 I surveyed the Sassafras River in the vicinity of
Turners Creek, latitude 39-21.5N longitude 75-59.00W. Around the creek
mouth and extending up into the creek are dense beds of elodea, with some
wild celery mixed in, and lesser amounts of millfoil. Total coverage is
3-5 acres in extent. Proceeding upriver from Turners Creek there is good
growth of elodea and millfoil all along on the Kent County side of the
river, extending out 100-150 feet from shore. I surveyed as far as
latitude 39-22.4N longitude 75-58.00W.
I kayaked the upper Severn on last Sat. 10/1 and found redhead grass
still dense & healthy off Arden beach, where Mike Norman reported it
earlier in the summer, and several nearby
areas. This appeared to be the upriver limit of SAV in the Severn on
the south shore, and across the river from Arden just downriver of Rock
Cove. Usually in the Severn widgeongrass spreads first and redhead
grass follows later, but the "leading edge" here is redhead grass, with
widgeongrass starting a bit downriver (see attached map). I found Dark
False Mussels (DFM) under rocks ONLY (none on pilings or on top of
rocks) in the upper Severn on Saturday; sites with DFM only are white,
ones with SAV are yellow, some of those had DFM as well. Salinity was
12-13 ppt (by refractometer) and Secchi depths were 0.75-1.2m, with lots
of sea nettles.
The 2004 VIMS SAV map (also attached) shows that Mike Norman reported
redhead grass at Arden last year as well, and that beds were mapped
upriver to just below Forked Creek (bed U2) where there is still SAV
this year. I expect from the density I saw that a few more upriver beds
may show up in the 2005 photos just above Forked Creek and possibly at
I attached a photo I took the same day showing the mussels under a rock
on the upper Severn; on some rocks they were much sparser. I usually
had to pick up the rock to find them, they were not on the sides of most
rocks. The rock had to be deep enough--they tolerate less exposure than
barnacles. I think the absence from the sides & tops of rocks has to do
with predation rather than exposure, since I did not see any mussels on
the tops of deeper rocks, and there were no mussels on a floating pier
(where there would be predation but not exposure). Troy Keller also
found DFM under rocks only in Weems Creek on the lower Severn earlier
this summer. If you found DFM anywhere on the Severn, South, or other
rivers this summer, please reply to me ASAP with locations since I'm
finishing my talk on them for the ERF meeting.
10/03/05 Bob Orth - VIMS
Aerial Update - Susquehanna Flats
On Wed, Sept. 28, Air Photographics flew the remaining flight lines over
the Susquehanna Flats, Northeast River, Furnace Bay and the lower
Susquehanna River, as well as the flight lines covering the South, Severn,
and Magothy rivers (lines 54-58). We received the images of the Flats area
on Friday, Sept. 30. These images confirm the numerous ground observations
emanating from this area - an abundance of SAV not seen on the Flats since
before Agnes! Below is a first order analysis of the Flats images. We
should receive the other photographs today (Oct. 3) and I'll try to get an
initial analysis out in the next few days.
The main body of the Flats is truly amazing this year. One single
photograph, which is roughly 3.4 miles on a side, does not capture the entire
bed! The beds have continued the trend started almost 5 years ago when we
first started noting more patches appearing on the Flats. This years'
abundance is nothing short of phenomenal! When we first started the annual
mapping program in 1984, we were hard pressed to observe the small patches
present back then. The bed today is large and dense, consisting of
multiple species. According to Mike Naylor, the eastern side contains an
abundance of wild celery, now in the final days of seed production. It's
hard to conceive of the number of seed pods now out there and available as
food for waterfowl, and subsequent dispersal!
There are some other very interesting developments this year:
1. Along the eastern margins of the Flats adjacent to Elk Neck, there are
now numerous patches of SAV going all the way from just above Turkey Pt.
into the Northeast River, with denser beds in Chara Cove. While beds have
been mapped previously in Chara Cove, we have not previously mapped beds in
the area south of Chara Cove. I found the area near "Camp Chesapeake"
particularly interesting. A series (see image) of 7 offshore groins were built in a
. SAV just behind those groins is very dense, compared to the patchier SAV
above and below the groins,
2. The western margin of the Flats along the shoreline from Swan Creek to
Havre de Grace appears to have less SAV than in past years. In particular,
the area just off the boardwalk at Havre de Grace is pretty much
unvegetated which contrasts with very dense beds in previous years. I
think this decline is likely due to smothering of SAV by Hurricane Ivan
last year in these areas. In addition the area below Havre de Grace from
Tydings Island south to the two spoil islands have SAV but not nearly as
dense as in previous years. According to Mike Naylor, these areas had a
significant amount of macroalgae last year and probably smothered the
SAV. While much SAV has re-appeared, it is not at levels we have recorded
in earlier surveys,
3. SAV is very dense in Furnace
On Sept. 23, a field survey by Mike Naylor and other MD DNR staff and Peter
Bergstrom found 12 SAV species at Stump Pt. at the mouth of Furnace
Bay! This could be the most diverse bed of SAV in the entire bay!
4. SAV is very dense along both shorelines of the Susquehanna River and
around Garrett Island, similar to what we have reported in many of the past
5. SAV is present in Swan Creek, next to APG and at the southwest end of
the Flats, but it appears to be not nearly as much as in previous
years. Todd Beser, who has been collecting some excellent SAV data up in
this region, has reported SAV but noted that this creek had high turbidity
for much of the growing season.
10/05/05 Bob Orth - VIMS
This update follows on the heels of Monday's news about SAV on the
Susquehanna Flats. As I indicated yesterday, Air Photographics also flew
flight lines over the South, Severn, and Magothy rivers, as well as the
rivers entering the south shore of the Patapsco (lines 54-58). We received
those images yesterday. Below is my analysis of SAV in those areas.
SEVERN RIVER (CB Segment SEVMH)
(Flight lines 55-58, flown Sept. 28) (quads 23, 24, 31).
SAV looks very robust in this system and similar to what we have observed
in recent years. SAV beds are most abundant along the shorelines of Round
Bay area, especially around Sherwood Forest into Little Round Bay, from
Sullivan Cove past Asquith Creek down to Chase Cove. Small, patchy beds
persist at the mouth of Weems Creek and Cove of Cork adjacent to the Rt 50
bridge. Peter Bergstrom has made numerous observations and those can be
found on our web site under 2005 field observations. He has found some
pockets of SAV in the area above Round Bay past Cedar Point, which we can
see some but not all patches as the shoal areas up from Round Bay are very
narrow. And please note that SAV rebounded here in the Severn in 1994 and
has persisted since then.
MAGOTHY RIVER (CB Segment MAGMH)
(Flight lines 55-57, flown Sept. 28) (quads 23, 24).
SAV in the Magothy River (home to Peter Bergstrom's numerous and detailed
sightings) remain very
robust. The photography this year shows healthy SAV beds present along the
south shore from just east of the mouth of Deep Creek to Ulmsteads Pt.,
around Ulmsteads Pt. to the mouth of Forked Creek, and up river to an area
called Wilson Wharf. Along the north portion of the Magothy, significant
SAV beds are present along the west side of Gibson Island, Magothy Narrows,
Inner Harbor, Cornfield Creek, Dobbins and Little Dobbins Isl., and from
the mouth of Cornfield Creek to just up from Long Pt. It appears that this
is another good year for SAV in the Magothy!
SOUTH RIVER (CB Segment SEVMH)
(Flight lines 57-59, flown Sept. 28) (quads 30, 31).
We could not detect any SAV on the photos in this system. We have had
reports from Drew Koslow, the river shorekeeper, who had reported
pockets of SAV earlier, but these appeared to have died back. If they are
present, they may now be too small to be detected by the
photographs. Unlike its sister systems just north (Severn and Magothy
rivers) the South has not had the successful rebound of plants.
PATAPSCO RIVER TRIBS (CB Segment SEVMH)
(Flight lines 54-56, flown Sept. 28) (quads 18, 19, 24).
Small beds of SAV were noted in both Rock and Stony creeks in either coves
or as fringing beds along some of the shorelines. It does appear there may
not be as much this year as in 2004. There does appear to be a significant
amount of SAV in Main, Back and Bodkin creeks which are located at the
mouth of the Patapsco River
We have been
scraping north of Great Fox Island for
the past few weeks with student groups. Specifically, we have been within
Smith Island's waters, near Peachorchard Point. The eelgrass is much
longer (4-5 inches total) now than even 2 weeks ago, and we're finding
more of it as the widgeon grass is starting to disappear. It seems to be
healthy, bright green with a few bryozoans growing.
10/10/05 Bob Orth, VIMS
This update covers the upper Potomac River from an area just above
Quantico, VA, and Mattawoman Creek, MD, to the fall line just above
Washington, DC (flightlines 126-132). These particular lines are almost as
difficult to acquire as those over the Aberdeen Proving Grounds because of
the airspace restrictions covering a 7 and 15 mile radius around the DC
area following Sept. 11. This flight needed approvals from multiple
agencies and required a police officer on the plane when these lines were
flown. A letter of support from the EPA Bay Program head (Rebecca Hamner)
appeared to have made the difference! This success was also helped by the
good relationships that our contractor, Air Photographics, has developed
with these different groups, facilitating the approval process.
POTOMAC RIVER (CB Segment POTTF)
(Flight lines126-132, flown Sept. 30) (quads 28, 29 ,34, 39, 40, and 47).
There is a very fascinating change in SAV distribution in this section. As
many of you recall, as recently as 2002, SAV was extremely abundant around
Washington, DC, in particular on the shoal area surrounding the Woodrow
Wilson bridge. This SAV bed was clearly visible as you crossed the bridge
or flew into the airport in late summer and early fall. SAV basically
disappeared from the DC in 2003 and none was reported from this same area
in 2004, although field reports by Danny Ryan showed sparse plants of
several species in a few areas, but too sparse to be captured by the aerial
photography. However, in both 2003 and 2004, SAV was present and actually
quite abundant from just below the bridge and going down river. In 2005
the only major beds of SAV we can see on the photography above the Woodrow
Wilson bridge are along the shoreline adjacent to the airport, around the
inside channel of Roosevelt Isl., in the large cove next to the Pentagon,
and in a small area on the north section of that big shoal area. Smaller
patches of SAV are present in a few other locations but the total SAV is a
far cry from what we mapped in 2002; however there is definitely more SAV
in 2005 than in 2004.
Below the Woodrow Wilson Bridge is another story! You can draw a straight
line across the Potomac River from just below Smoots Bay (or "Bay of
Americas" I think it is now called) to Crescent Island just down from the
Belle Haven marina and SAV becomes very dense and abundant and is certainly
more than what we mapped in than 2004 along both the MD and VA
shorelines! Here are some additional details:
Broad, Swan and, Piscataway and Pomonkey
creeks- (PHOTO 1, PHOTO 2) all four creeks are almost completely covered with a dense canopy
Dogue Creek- (PHOTO)
very dense coverage of SAV all the way to the mainstem Potomac except for
the narrow channels to the marinas.
Gunston Cove- very dense SAV covering the entire upper section of the
river, and then along both shorelines to the mouth - definitely more than 2004.
Belmont Bay- there is a dense stand of SAV from Sandy Pt. to Kanes Creek
along the north shoreline and a large, very dense bed at the confluence of
the bay and the Occoquan River.
Occoquan Bay- there is almost no SAV here but I noticed that along Mason
Neck just down from High Pt. there are a pair of four offshore breakwaters
parallel to the beach. In 2004, I did not detect any SAV signatures but the
2005 photos shows some very dark bands directly behind the breakwaters
closest to High Point, very similar to what I reported up on the
Flats. Only a faint signature appears behind the breakwaters down next to
Sandy Point. Hopefully we can get these areas ground-checked to see what
species are present.
Neabsco and Powells creeks- both creeks are loaded with SAV this year.
Mainstem Potomac- there is a continuous coverage of dense SAV from South Pt.
and Rosier Bluff along the MD side just at Smoots Bay down to around Indian
Head where it becomes very sparse or absent down to the mouth of Mattawoman
Creek, and from Crescent Island below Belle Haven down to Sycamore Pt. on
BOTTOM LINE there is very healthy, abundant and dense SAV from just below
the Woodrow Wilson Bridge down to Powells and Mattawoman creeks. And
while SAV remains reduced in coverage above the bridge, some beds have
re-appeared in 2005.
I spoke with a woman who has lived on Bear Creek inside of Wise
Avenue Bridge for 36 years, and this summer for the first time she has
seen extensive growth of grasses throughout Bear Creek. From her
description, I'm almost positive that what she is seeing is E. milfoil.
She says it's very thick, and that it has been there since fairly early
39-04-30.8/76-08-15.8 we found milfoil in about 3 feet of water. We were
about 10 feet from shore and the bed was approximately 20 ft by 20 ft. Hard
to say since the wind was blowing us into shore and I had to keep powering
to get off. At least it was a sandy bottom but the shore line had concrete
When we went scraping today we did not find a single shoot or piece of eel grass. We went in "the bottom" at the southern end of the Martin Wildlife Refuge on Smith Island. We actually didn't get much widgeon grass either.
10/13/05 Bob Murphy, University of Maryland Chesapeake Biological Laboratory
We visited Coan River by Walnut Point on September 23 to assess presence of any seedlings.
After repeated drops of a 1m2 PVC
quadrat to get an estimate, it was quickly apparent there were not many
seedlings. As a matter of fact, I swam several transects through the area and
could not locate a single plant. As you may recall, the visit in the
spring had some Zanichellia present and I could not find any Zostera mixed in. These
results indicate that none of the seeds produced plants. We do not plan on
conducting another visit in the spring based on these results.
There's no eelgrass and not very much
Ruppia. I found several areas with skewers, but digging down in the
sediments, I found no rhizomes. The layer of sediments at this site is
shallow with lots of oyster shell just an inch or two below the
surface. The Ruppia was mostly just behind the "rock reef" and was
covered with epiphytic red algae.
Dave Goshorn, Tom Parham and I returned to the Susquehanna Flats
yesterday, and were able to ground-truth the lush growth of SAV inside the
breakwaters at the NorthBay Environmental Center on the East side of the
Flats. If you look at this image (up is East in the
photo), on the upper right hand side you can see the dark patch of SAV as
well as the breakwaters themselves. The bed inside these breakwaters is a
testament to how reducing wave energy can lead to increased SAV
growth. Outside the breakwaters, both up and down the shoreline, there
are just a few scattered patches of SAV. Inside the breakwaters there is
over 75% cover of the entire area.
The species inside the breakwaters include a diverse bed of 10 species-
wild celery (V. Americana), Eurasion watermilfoil (M. spicatum), water
stargrass (H. dubia), sago pondweed (S. pectinata), spiny naiad (N.
minor), curly pondweed (P. crispus), coontail (C. demersum), bladderwort
(Utricularia sp.), slender pondweed (P. pusillus), and hydrilla (H.
We also spent some time in the Elk River, and the SAV beds in the lower
Elk were impressive despite a fairly high tide. For some reason, the Elk
is absolutely loaded with redhead grass, a species that is almost never
seen just on the other side of the Elk Neck peninsula on the Flats proper.
The Mason Neck breakwaters were completed in October 2002 and were
constructed as part of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge mitigation effort. We are doing limited SAV
monitoring at these sites and have seen a steady increase in abundance of
SAV. This year there are dense beds of SAV behind the breakwaters. The
species composition varies but consists of mostly Najas minor and Hydrillawith a good percentage of Vallisneria and Myriophyllum mixed in.
The Woodrow Wilson Bridge eelgrass transplants, installed in October 2004, hung on for six
months but as of late early October 2005 were gone. I did find some small
patches of rhizome, however, it was brittle and appeared dead. We did not
have any scour problems at the Piney Point location, if anything we have
excessive deposition as some of the rhizomes (and skewers) were buried under
up to six inches of sediment.
10/20/05 Melissa Slatnick, Maryland Environmental Service
Someone from Maryland Environmental Service has confirmed a substantial amount of SAV (Eurasian Milfoil) in Bear Creek.
10/25/05 Bob Orth,VIMS
This update covers several areas that were flown on Oct. 19: the
mid-Potomac River from Aquia Creek to just above Quantico and from just
below Chicamuxen Creek to Mattawoman Creek; Pamunkey River in Virginia;
upper James River; upper Rappahannock River; and the upper half of the
POTOMAC RIVER (CB Segment, POTTF, POTOH, MATTF)
(Flight lines 122, 123, 123A, and 125; flown Oct. 19; quads 47, 48, 55, 56,
and 64). There is a very dramatic change in SAV distribution that occurs along a
narrow stretch of the river from Potomac Creek to Aquia Creek. While there
is almost no SAV in Potomac Creek, Aquia Creek, immediately above Potomac
Creek, is essentially covered with SAV from the mouth to the
headwaters. While we can't compare numbers at this time, SAV abundance
could be at an all time high in Aquia Creek. Proceeding upriver along the
mainstem, SAV is very dense from the mouth of Aquia Creek all the way to
Quantico. Along the MD side, SAV is very dense in both Chicamuxen and
Mattawoman creeks. SAV is still pretty dense in most areas but we are
beginning to see the fall SAV dieback in some areas based on the overlap of
photographs flown in Sept. showing some beds becoming less dense. However,
we are not seeing the major defoliation yet.
We have now completed acquisition of SAV for the entire Potomac River. SAV
abundance from just below the Woodrow Wilson Bridge to Aquia Creek and just
above Maryland Pt. was very dense. Along the VA side from Potomac Creek to
the mouth of the river, SAV was pretty much absent except in Popes Creek
and the Yecomico River. However, along the MD side, SAV was abundant in
many of the tributaries from Nanjemoy Creek to the St. Mary's
River. Bottom line - a generally good year for SAV in the entire Potomac,
with a few noticeable holes!
PAMUNKEY RIVER (CB Segments PMKOH, PMKTF)
(Flight lines 151 and 152; flown Oct. 19; quads 228 and 229).
SAV is present and very dense from the Pamunkey Indian Reservation to just
above Montague Landing. There is very little shoal area along the
mainstem, so much of the SAV is restricted to a very narrow fringe along
the river. It is abundant in the many small marsh creeks entering the
system in this region. A field check by VIMS staff found predominantly
hydrilla in this region. SAV has increased in the downriver section around
Big Creek where there is a much broader shoal area. There is no SAV from
Indian Reservation down to West Point.
RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER (CB Segment RAPPTF)
(Flight lines 142A and 142 B; flown Oct. 19; quads 231).There is no SAV noted on the photography in the region from just below the
301 bridge in Port Royal to Fredericksburg. This area of the river is
narrow with few only a few areas with appreciable shoals.
JAMES RIVER (CB Segments JMSTF, APPTF, CHKOH)
(Flight lines 154B, 158B, 159B, 163; flown Oct. 19; quads 125, 126, 127,
135, 136, 204 and 207). SAV is absent along the mainstem James from the mouth of the Chickahominy
River to Richmond. However, we have noted some SAV in several creeks but
primarily further upstream in these small creeks, e.g. Herring Creek, Upper
The Upper Chickahominy (Flight line 165) just below the Walkers Dam is loaded with
SAV, and it is all hydrilla.
10/25/05 Peter Bergstrom, NOAA
Bear Creek, Shallow Creek, Magothy River (Quads 13, 18, 19)
I may have mentioned this before, but Bear Creek (shown with arrow) was
one of the locations where dark false mussels (Mytilopsis leucophaeata)
were reported last year by Chris Judy of MD-DNR (map). The mussels
helped to clear the water in the Magothy in 2004, and to a lesser extent in 2005.
The SAV in nearby Shallow Creek was almost entirely milfoil when beds
first were mapped in 1996; I first found one patch of wild celery in the
outer cove of Shallow Creek in 1998. By the time we planted wild celery
and redhead grass there in 2000, there was much less milfoil in the
creek. This year (2005) the milfoil bed that usually filled the upper
end of the outer cove was almost completely gone when I visited in late
September, but the unplanted wild celery beds there were larger than
In the Magothy this year I found new beds of redhead grass in many of the
same upriver areas that had dark false mussels last year. These areas
with new beds had not had any SAV mapped in the baywide surveys since
1978; before 2005 these areas had only horned pondweed.
I looked at the Occoquan beds behind the breakwaters on September 14th.
The SAV behind the breakwaters closest to High Point and the mainstem
Potomac River was dominated by Hydrilla and Najas Minor with some Vallisneria and
Myriophyllum mixed in.
The SAV behind the breakwaters closest to Sandy Point and Belmont Bay was
dominated by Hydrilla and Myriophyllum with some Najas Minor and Vallisneria mixed in.
Ground proofing of the Bohemia River from the RT 213 bridge
to the mouth of the river on both shores confirms Bob Orth's comments
of 9/01/05 based on the aerial survey. There was a significant increase
in SAV over 2004. Dense bed of SAV line both shores and extend further
off shore in many areas than in 2004. Ground proofing was conducted in
several excursions by wading, canoe and small sailboat from July 23 to
Sept 20 at low tide.
In general there was a major increase in the presence of hydrilla extending into areas previously occupied by wild celery and in the
intertidal zone not previously occupied by SAV. Wild celery extended
into areas previously occupied by Eurasian watermilfoil. In various
areas there were dense beds of pure hydrilla, wild celery or curly
pondweed as well as dense mixed beds. Dense pure beds of curley pond
weed had not been seen before. More coontail was present than had been
Overall impression of species frequency was as follows:
Quad 010 (Area designations refer to beds from 2004 map)
Area: cove in southeast corner of LA, low tide (note high tide can be 3' deeper), wading, dense coverage 100%
0 - 12" water depth - 0-150 yards off shore
Species: hydrilla (dense) 95%, wild celery 5%
(much of this area is in the intertidal zone)
12"-18" water depth – 150-250 yards off shore
Species: hydrilla 33%, wild celery 33%, curly pondweed 33%
Area: eastern one third of area of MB
18"-36" water depth 250- 400 yards off shore
Species: wild celery 85%, hydrilla 5%, curly pondweed 2%, slender pondweed 1%, eurasian watermilfoil 1%, water stargrass 1%, coontail 1%, common waterweed 1%
Comments: Hydrilla is expanding at the expense of wild celery and also into intertidal zone not previously occupied by SAV. Curly pondweed expanding at the expense of wild celery. Wild celery expanding at the expense of eurasian watermilfoil.
Area: north portion of LA (East shore Veazey Cove) canoe - low tide
wild celery 94%, hydrilla 1% (off shore), curly pondweed 1%, slender pondweed 1%, eurasian watermilfoil 1%, star grass 1%(offshore), common waterweed 1%
Comments: SAV much denser and much further off shore than 2004. Wild celery taking over from eurasian watermilfoil.
Area: Battery Point Bar out 300 yards beyond MA
Species: eurasian watermilfoil 20%, water stargrass 10%, wild celery 70%
Area: western half of KA and FB (Battery Point to Morgan Creek)
Species: wild celery 94%, hydrilla 1% (off shore), curly pondweed 1%, slender pondweed 1%, eurasian watermilfoil 1%, water stargrass 1%(offshore), common waterweed 1%, coontail 0.1%
Area: south portion of LA (Home Cove to McDevit point, between two coves)
low tide, small boat
Species: wild celery 60%, curly pondweed 20%, hydrilla 10%, eurasian watermilfoil 9%, water stargrass 1%
Area: pond and cove - Southwest portion of LA
Species: hydrilla 90%, wild celery 10%
Area: western portions of LA and MB
Species: wild celery 70%, hydrilla 18%, water stargrass 2%, common waterweed 2%, coontail 2%, eurasian watermilfoil 2%, curly pondweed 2%, slender pondweed 2%
canoe, low tide
Area: eastern half of KA and FB
Species: wild celery 30%, hydrilla 30%, eurasian watermilfoil 30%, coontail 5%, water stargrass 5%
Area: JA and N (Long Point to Hacks Point)
Species: wild celery 40%, hydrilla 40%, eurasian watermilfoil 13%, water stargrass 2%, coontail 3%, water stargrass 1%, slender pondweed 1%
Area: EA (western mouth of Scotchman Creek)
Species: hydrilla 95%, wild celery 5%
Area: bar east of Long Point
Species: hydrilla 90%, wild celery 5%, eurasian watermilfoil 5%
small boat, low tide
Area: HA and GA
Species: wild celery 40%, hydrilla 20%, eurasian watermilfoil 40%
small boat, low tide
Area: western half of FA (marina to Stony Point)
Species: wild celery 35%, hydrilla 29%, eurasian watermilfoil 35%, coontail 1%
Comments: SAV beds are more extensive than in 2004. Dense beds of hydrilla are much more extensive than in previous years. More curly pondweed and coontail than in previous years.
11/03/05 Debbie Hinkle, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science - Horn Point Lab
Was on Broad Creek on Oct 31st. Good visibility at Mulberry
Point. The grass is gone, however. There were dense beds of Ruppia that now have only very sparse vegetative shoots. Back in early
Sept. this was the case as well. There were large flocks of Swans (west
side of Hambleton Island) and when we went to the site that had been
vegetated earlier in the summer there were just floating mats of uprooted
Ruppia or mats lying on the bottom. Our previous planting of
Potamogeton perfoliatus at this location that was beautiful all summer was
gone as well. In Sept the grass along the south side of Mulberry Point
had diminished as well. It had been a very dense bed of reproductive
Ruppia along with patches of Stuckenia pectinata and P. perfoliatus (our
previous years' plantings).
Julie Baldizar and myself checked Neabsco Creek yesterday (11/2/05) to see
if we could find anything more than Nancy and I found last
month. Unfortunately the water clarity and depth once again limited our
ability to properly ground truth the entire creek. The extremely "mucky"
bottom also made it impossible to use waders to check areas away from the
boat. We were able to survey along the dredged channel near the marina up
to the last set of piers inland. Once again the bottom was primarily
partially decomposed terrestrial detritus (tree leaves) with a few (three)
small (less than two cm) strands of very green hydrilla.