Monitoring *> Field Observations > 2006
2006 Field Observations and a First Look at the Aerial Photography
  • 04/17/06 Bob Orth, VIMS - SAV update
  • 05/10/06 Bob Orth, VIMS - SAV update
  • 05/10/06 Peter Bergstrom, NOAA - Magothy and Severn rivers
  • 05/15/06 Nancy Rybicki, USGS - Potomac River
  • 05/22/06 Peter Bergstrom, NOAA - Muddy Creek
  • 05/30/06 Nancy Rybicki, USGS - Potomac River
  • 06/05/06 Chris Tanner, St. Mary's College - St. Mary's River
  • 06/05/06 Chris Tanner, St. Mary's College - St. Mary's River, Webster Field
  • 06/09/06 Peter Bergstrom, NOAA - Marshy Creek
  • 06/12/06 Peter Bergstrom, NOAA - Havre de Grace
  • 06/12/06 Terry Willis - Fairlee Creek
  • 06/17/06 Tom Powers - Poquoson River
  • 06/18/06 Terry Willis - Chester River
  • 06/26/06 Peter Bergstrom, NOAA - Severn River
  • 06/28/06 Kent Mountford - Patuxent River
  • 07/05/06 Nancy Rybicki, USGS - Potomac River
  • 07/05/06 Peter Bergstrom, NOAA - Severn and Magothy rivers
  • 07/10/06 Terry Willis - Chester River
  • 07/11/06 Bob Orth, VIMS - SAV update
  • 07/12/06 Terry Willis - Chester River
  • 07/17/06 Terry Willis - Chester River
  • 07/18/06 Peter Bergstrom, NOAA - Tred Avon River, Tar Bay, and Slaughter Creek
  • 07/18/06 Terry Willis - Chester River
  • 07/19/06 Bill Severn, UMCES - Little Annemessex River
  • 07/24/06 Bob Orth, VIMS - Aerial Update of the lower bay
  • 07/24/06 Chris Tanner, St. Mary's College - St. Mary's River
  • 07/24/06 Terry Willis - Chester River
  • 07/28/06 Chris Tanner, St. Mary's College - St. Mary's River
  • 07/31/06 Terry Willis - Chester River
  • 08/01/06 Bob Orth, VIMS - Aerial Update of the middle bay
  • 08/04/06 Julie Bortz, MD-DNR - Gunpowder and Bush rivers, Monie Bay
  • 08/07/06 Mike Naylor, MD-DNR - Susquehanna Flats
  • 08/11/06 Peter Bergstrom, NOAA - Magothy River
  • 08/14/06 Terry Willis - Chester River
  • 08/23/06 Peter Bergstrom, NOAA - Severn and Magothy rivers
  • 08/23/06 Herman Heinlein - Harris Creek (Choptank River)
  • 08/24/06 Laura Murray, UMCES - Choptank River
  • 08/25/06 Tom Parham, MD-DNR - Choptank River, Susquehanna Flats
  • 08/28/06 Peter Bergstrom, NOAA - Magothy River
  • 08/30/06 Chris Tanner, St. Mary's College - St. Mary's River, Webster Field
  • 09/11/06 Terry Willis - Chester River
  • 09/17/06 Terry Willis - Chester River
  • 09/27/06 Terry Willis - Chester River
  • 10/06/06 Peter Bergstrom, NOAA - Breton and St. Clements bays
  • 10/09/06 Bob Orth, VIMS - SAV update
  • 10/10/06 Peter Bergstrom, NOAA - Patapsco River
  • 10/11/06 Justin Reel - Occoquan Bay
  • 11/21/06 Peter Bergstrom - Severn River

04/17/06 Bob Orth, VIMS

SAV Update

Most of you are now aware of the summer defoliation of eelgrass in Chesapeake Bay late last year that resulted in all areas of the bay (as well as many areas in the coastal bays) devoid of eelgrass by fall, an event not observed in the last 30 years. We have attributed this event to the hot and still weather conditions last summer when water temperatures exceeded 30C, a lethal temperature for eelgrass meristems. Cursory surveys last fall found a few areas where some adult plants survived and seedlings were also being observed. However, we all felt we had to wait until this spring to get a better sense of the outcome of the event.

So far there appears to be both good news and bad news from observations this spring. The 'not so good' news comes from both an overflight I made on April 7 from a Cessna at 1500 ft of many areas of the lower bay, the VA portion of Chincoteague Bay, and VA's lower seaside bays, as well as ground surveys being made by my staff and Ken Moore and his student Jessie Campbell. I've attached a pdf showing the flight path I took (a composite of SAV coverage from these areas is shown in green). At this time of year one would expect to easily see dense beds in many areas. I saw very little that could be considered dense. Most areas basically appeared unvegetated. Of the few areas I observed that may have had grass, I would have classified most as a category '1' (01-10% cover) and some maybe a '2' (10-40% cover). I could not determine what contributions widgeon grass, which co-occurs with eelgrass in these areas, may have made to any of these cover categories. Some areas had a slight discoloration to the bottom that did not look like 'grass' and may have been the old rhizomes which have not washed out yet. This was very evident in the Coards Marsh area of Chincoteague Bay (Quads 175, 172). The only areas I saw that clearly had eelgrass present were in the Hungers Creek area of the bayside (Quad 124) and two small areas in the lower York, each no larger than an acre. I was surprised that the densest beds I observed on the entire flight were our restoration plots in South and Cobb bays (Quads 212, 184), the two seaside bays that we have been working in since 1998.

Now the good news. Our field surveys are showing seedlings in all areas we have been ground checking. These are still small (1-4 shoots), but growth should increase rapidly in the next few months such that dense areas of seedlings may be visible in the aerial monitoring later this spring. We surveyed two areas of the lower bay where we have been monitoring propeller scars and recorded an average of 18 seedlings per meter squared (range of 3-48) along the Poquoson Flats area and 8 seedlings (range of 1-25) in the Browns Bay area of the Mobjack Bay (Quads 131, 141 ). We have found very few adult plants at these locations and thus most of the recovery process is going to be fueled by seedling growth. There is one downside to this observation. With few adult plants, there will be even fewer flowering shoots and an extremely small seed crop produced. In the plots where we measured seedling numbers, we found an average of 0.1 to 0.2 flowering shoots per meter squared. Normal densities at this time can range up to several hundred! These low densities of adult shoots for Chesapeake Bay beds contrasts with more significant numbers of adult shoots and flowering shoots we observed last Monday (April 10) in the South Bay restoration site (no data collected due to the low body core temperatures of my staff and I that day when we got to the site following many hours counting seedlings at another site).

Over the next few weeks, we will be field checking additional sites to add to our data base above. We will keep you posted on these observations.

05/10/06 Bob Orth, VIMS

SAV Update

Here's the latest update on the eelgrass situation from recent field observations and low level aerial surveys.

I made a second aerial reconnaissance on April 20 (flight path). The majority of the flight covered the western shore from the Back River up to Reedville but I also covered some of the same areas I flew over earlier along the bayside eastern shore. MD DNR staff also made a low level aerial survey about the same time, primarily in the MD section of the mid-bay and Chincoteague. The observations from these two aerial surveys showed that most areas have very sparse beds, although where SAV is present it appears to be getting denser, as I could see more patches than earlier. The dense beds of recent years around Poquoson Flats and Mobjack Bay are depressingly sparse, as are many areas along the bayside lower eastern shore(Quads 131, 132, 141). In the mid-bay area the previously dense areas around the Little Annemessex River and Great Fox Island and parts of the big bed between Tangier and Smith were really sparse (Quads 099, 100, 101, 107). Surprisingly, some of the densest beds were noted in the Big Annemessex River and along its north shore going towards the Manokin (MD's observation) (Quads 085, 093).

The numbers of field observations are beginning to increase and are confirming some rapid growth of eelgrass seedlings that were noted earlier. But in these areas, the number of flowering shoots is very low, in some cases less than 1 per square meter compared to the several hundred per square meter that we are used to seeing. Ken Moore has reported excellent seedling growth covering up to 30% the plots in his Goodwin Island NERRS transects (mouth of the York River) (Quad 140). The NERRS site at VIMS also shows excellent seedling growth but few flowering shoots. Scott Marion went to Dameron Marsh (just below the Potomac River near Reedville) and noted some really good eelgrass growth and survival of adult plants through last summer (Quad 106). He noted many more flowering shoots (up to 40 per square meter) than at sites that died off. Lee Karrh field verified beds in the Big Annemessex River and indeed found more eelgrass than I would have expected. Surprisingly, the bed just at the mouth of the Big Annemessex was eelgrass, and had some of the densest concentrations of flowering shoots of any place he checked (Quad 093). Unfortunately, those big, lush beds in the Little Annemessex river where DNR mechanically collected "heaps" of flowering shoots the last two years is gone (Quads 100, 101). Seedlings are present, but almost no flowering shoots. Jacques van Montfrans (VIMS) was at Cherrystone Inlet last week and found some dense patches of eelgrass with healthy flowering shoots, but the bigger beds near the campground were not at all what we have seen earlier (Quads 133, 134). Staff and students working with Emmett Duffy at VIMS reported some healthy stands of eelgrass in Back River, near Langley AFB, with many more flowering shoots (Quad 147). This was one of the areas that had a significant amount of eelgrass remaining in 2005. The MD DNR group has reported that eelgrass in some of their 2004 restoration plots off Cherryfield Point in the St Mary's have survived the 2005 defoliation, as they have observed larger patches with flowering shoots (Quad 080). That is pretty impressive!

The picture from the seaside is both good and bad. The big beds in Chincoteague appear to be really down based on what we have seen from the air (Quads 170, 171, 172, 173, 174, 175). Lee Karrh has found some of the healthier populations up around Tingles Island (Quad 170). However, Eva Koch, who has established a Seagrass Net transect off Tizzard Island, noted that it was essentially unvegetated with few seedlings and only had flowering shoots at her mid-depth transect (about 2 per square meter) (Quad 172). Farther south, in the VA southern seaside bays, eelgrass in the VIMS restoration areas in South Bay appeared quite healthy as of Friday with many more flowering shoots than any place in the lower bay (Quads 184, 212). Just north of South Bay in both Cobb and Spider Crab bays, the planted eelgrass beds also appeared quite healthy; and a recent check of our test plots in Hog Island Bay, the next bay up, found them doing well (Quads 184). We also found more naturally recruiting eelgrass patches with flowering shoots in Hog Island Bay, in the vicinity of those discovered in 2004.

A potential issue on the horizon could be the reappearance of "wasting" disease in the coastal bays. Both Lee Karrh and another observer reported "blackened" patches on numerous leaves in a couple of locations in beds in north Chincoteague (Quads 170, 171, 172, 173, 174, 175). These patches bear close observation over the ensuing months.

I'll continue to provide updates when additional information is available. The aerial survey for 2006 will commence in the next few weeks so we will have a much better and quantitative picture of the extent of the 2005 defoliation.

In summary, there seems to be more places than we previously appreciated in which at least some adult plant survived the defoliation. The most notable areas are in the mid-bay regions. In addition, the widespread abundance of seedlings (and their already significant growth) is likely to result in substantial observable grass beds by June. Finally, flowering shoots are significantly reduced or even absent in most locations, reflecting the dieback of adult shoots, which will have consequences for seed production and subsequent seedling recruitment into next year's population.

05/10/06 Peter Bergstrom, NOAA

Here is what we found on in SAV surveys Mon and Tues:

Magothy River (Quads 023, 024) (Monday)

Kayaked about 8 miles with Shelby Laubhan. Found scattered small patches of horned pondweed (Zp), about average abundance or perhaps a bit less than average. Found a few scattered short redhead grass (Ppf) plants, about where I expected except I could not find any at South Ferry Point, and they were very sparse at Ulmstead Pier (Forked Creek). Most redhead was very short, 3-4" long, and most horned pondweed was also about as short. Only patch with SAV density > 1 was in the downriver "corner" of Swan Cove (see attached map), mostly Ppf with some Zp where density was about 2. We found no wild celery at South Ferry Point where it usually occurs; it may not be up yet there. Surface salinity (with refractometer) was 9-10 ppt. Last Sat with meter, surface salinity was 7.3-8 ppt (7-9 ppt by refractometer at the same stations so it can read higher than meter), and bottom salinity was 8.5-8.6 ppt, at Old Man, Cattail and Forked Creek. Forgot Secchi disk on Monday but it appeared to be <= 1 m (on Sat. it was 0.7-1.15 m). Low tide never happened due to upriver winds and possibly an offshore storm.

See maps of where I found redhead grass in this part of the Magothy last September, and what we found on Monday (Magothy 2005, Magothy 2006). As you can see we were looking on Monday in places where redhead was common last September, but did not find much. It may simply not have been up yet; hard to say.

Severn River (Quads 023 ,024, 031) (Tuesday)-- Took it easy in Fred Kelly's power boat (he is the Severn Riverkeeper); Howard Weinberg joined us. Secchi was 1.4 m in Saltworks Creek, salinity 10 ppt with refractometer, and it read 12 ppt in the river. We found scattered redhead plants next to the boathouse outside Rays Pond, and they were longer than the Magothy plants (5-6" long) but still very sparse. There was also sparse horned pondweed, and some of these were a bit longer than the Magothy plants as well. All of these beds were density 1. We headed north towards Asquith Creek and in the large bed that appeared in 1994 there were clumps of Zp and Ppf and once clump of old Ppc (with clear bayonets) that looked like it overwintered. Based on what I could see through the water (the "low" tide was not very low as on Monday, Secchi was visible on the bottom in 0.8 m) the density was about 2. We crossed to Sherwood Forest, between Brewer Creek and the main Sherwood pier, and found a small but dense, long, and very green clump of sago pondweed that was to the surface. [NOTE--This was very atypical sago (very robust with wide, shiny leaves for sago) but luckily I had seen a similar form before, in Muddy Creek which drains into the Rhode River through the SERC property, also in May. Both had marked, clear bayonets and the SERC plants had tubers attached to them so they were definitely sago. (I have photos from both sites if you want to see them). Perhaps when sago comes up in May from tubers it looks different?] A bit upriver, towards the main Sherwood pier, we found some taller, larger and denser patches of redhead, sago and horned pondweed that were clearly visible from the boat. The densest parts of these had density 4 within the clumps and density 3 over the whole area. See map (Severn 2006).

Likely high salinity effects--Surface and (especially) bottom salinities in the Magothy in April and May are running about as high as I measured in the drought years 1995, 1999, 2001 and 2002 at the same 3 stations. Some of the values this year are higher than in those years. In the Corsica, the Eyes on the Bay salinity data (1 m deep) are on a steep uphill climb, currently near 8-9 ppt, see: (farther upriver)

For fixed station ET4.2, south of Eastern Neck Island, its surface salinity was well above normal (10.4 ppt) in April; see

The fixed station in the upper Gunpowder also had near record high surface salinity in April (near 3 ppt) and it is far upriver from the SAV beds, see: (has anyone checked the salinity near the SAV there recently?).

In terms of species shifts this may cause, I expect less Elodea (Ec) and Vallisneria (Va), and more Stuckenia (sago pondweed or Ppc), in the Chester and Magothy this year. The Severn lacks the first two species but should have more sago. In terms of likely changes in SAV area in 2006, it went up in 1995 in all three rivers, and went up in 2002 in the Magothy and Severn but in the Chester in 2002 it stayed at a low level. In 1999 the Magothy & Severn surveys were incomplete due to Hurricane Floyd, and in 2001 both surveys were incomplete due to the airspace restrictions after the terrorist attacks. In the lower Chester, SAV area fell in 1999 and was 0 in 2000, and rose only a bit in 01-02, not recovering until the drought was over in 2004.

Thus my best guesses for 2006 SAV area in these 3 segments are a drop in SAV area for the lower Chester (and possibly other segments to the north such as the Gunpowder with a lot of Ec and Va, depending on their bottom salinity levels) and a modest SAV increase in the Magothy and Severn.

05/15/06 Nancy Rybicki, USGS

Potomac River (Quads 039, 040)

Spring SAV in the Potomac River:
We have made observations in the fresh and oligohaline Potomac from DC to Nanjemoy. We found 8 species. We are expecting SAV to do well this year in the lower fresh and upper oligohaline Potomac since beds are already going strong, hard to tell about the upper tidal fresh and lower oligo because those species at those observation points may just be slower to emerge.

05/22/06 Peter Bergstrom, NOAA

Muddy Creek (Quad 030)

I went on a canoe trip at Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) yesterday (5/21) in Muddy Creek (drains to Rhode River) and there were more grasses than I had seen in the same area in past years, even though it was near high tide. As before we found Sago pondweed, which was wider and more robust than what one usually sees elsewhere, but I'm sure it's sago; it has clear bayonets and last year I pulled up a plant with a tuber attached to the roots. No flowers or seeds, though. At the confluence of the N & S branches, just up the creek from the canoe launch, sago was visible in the murky water at high tide, so it must be quite visible at low tide. We also found milfoil (some visible at high tide) and some short horned pondweed (not visible,found only by raking). These are the same 3 species we found in 2004 and 2005 in the same vicinity. See map of what we found where yesterday. The 2004 observations from Muddy Creek by myself and SERC staff are online here (bottom center of the map):

Salinity at the fish weir was 10 ppt by refractometer, higher than usual, as it has been elsewhere. In 2004, salinity in Muddy Creek was 0-0.1 ppt, and reached 6 ppt in Boathouse Cove; in 2005 I did not record salinity. I forgot my Secchi disk this year but the Secchi depth there was 0.25-0.4 m last May, and appeared to be similar yesterday.

5/30/06 Nancy Rybicki, USGS

Potomac River (Quads 034, 039, 040, 055, 056, 057, 064, 065, 066)

We got a good preview of some of the early growing species of SAV in the Potomac. I drew the beds on a basemap as we flew from Anacostia to Quantico, both sides of river. See those drawings of SAV distribution (Map 1, Map 2, Map 3). I noted the time as we flew, and when we have some time, we hope to match photos with location using the time stamp on the digital photos.

06/05/06 Chris Tanner, St. Mary's College

St. Mary's River (Quads 079, 080, 089)

Over the last two weeks my students and I have been checking SAV at various locations in the St. Mary's River, MD. On May 25, we checked several locations. Northwest of Tippity Wichity Island, we found a dense and extensive bed of horned pondweed (Zannichellia palustris). Plants were in flower and were up to a meter tall. Temperature was 21.6 C, salinity 11.8 ppt, oxygen saturation at the surface was 91.5% and at the bottom in a dense bed 34%. Moving downstream we found patches of widgeon grass (Ruppia maritima) between Martin and Horseshoe Points (Temp 20.9 C, Sal 13.8 ppt, Secchi 1.2 m), with some flowers. At Chancellor Point we found a dense bed of widgeon grass with flowering shoots (Temp 19.8 C Sal 14.1 ppt, Secchi 1.8 m). We also found widgeon grass beds across the river on the north and sound side of Windmill Point. On a previous trip we had noted that the large bed of widgeon grass at Rose Croft Point still persists. At the mouth of St. George Island we observed extensive widgeon grass beds at Russell Point and just west of Price Cove, again with lots of flowering shoots. There were patches of widgeon grass on the east of Price Cove, but these patches were less dense and had fewer flowering shoots.

On May 25 and again on May 31 (Temp 24.1, Sal 13.6 ppt, Secchi to bottom at 1.1 m) we surveyed the area at Piney Point planted last fall with eelgrass (Zostera marina) by the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project. Survival of the transplants is high, and the transplants have propagated vegetatively to form patches of eelgrass, some of which are starting to merge. Many of the patches have flowering shoots. While the flowering shoots and older leaves of vegetative shoots are covered with small barnacles, most vegetative shoots have new healthy leaves that are barnacle and epiphyte free.

On June 1, I kayaked along the shore north of Chancellor Point and found patches of widgeon grass with some plants in flower. On June 2, I kayaked into Chicken Cock Creek and found a few small patches of widgeon grass. There was little evidence of SAV along the shore of the St. Mary's River south from Chicken Cock Creek. Later that day I snorkeled behind the rock breakwaters at the Webster Field naval base. In the area that eelgrass was planted a couple years ago, I found 5 small patches of eelgrass, none of which was in flower. I also found patches of widgeon grass and horned pondweed, both of which were in flower. In this area there were large mats of drifting seaweeds that included Enteromorpha and filamentous red algae.

06/05/06 Chris Tanner, St. Mary's College

St. Mary's River, Webster Field (Quad 080)

I got back to Webster Field last Friday to check to see if any eelgrass recovered from last year and also to check the NOAA SAV planting sites. The good news is that I did find five small patches of eelgrass. There could be more but the visibility was not great and there was a huge biomass of seaweeds (Enteromorpha and filamentous reds) covering much of the bottom. None of the eelgrass was in flower, but it did look healthy. There was no sign of any of SAV in the areas that were planted as part of the NOAA restoration day. In other areas there was both widgeon grass and horned pond weed.

06/09/06 Peter Bergstrom, NOAA

Marshy Creek (Quad 033)

I led a group of SAV Hunters on Marshy Creek on 6/8 using canoes provided by CBEC. It's a great spot to learn to tell some of the confusing species of mesohaline SAV apart, and you can rent a canoe or kayak there for a small fee. You need to make a reservation (call 410-827-6694 or e-mail, see for directions). I would check the tide tables to go at low tide (Kent Narrows is the closest tide prediction, see for list), and try to avoid evenings when thunderstorms are more likely. In most recent years, when the grasses are fully grown, it can be hard to paddle through some of the dense beds at low tide (but they are not that tall yet this year). The salinity was higher than usual on 6/8 due to low rainfall, 14 ppt, and there were already small sea nettles. The water clarity was good for the summer, 1.1 m, probably partly because there had not been any rain for a few days. The tides were about 1 foot (0.3 m ) above normal, and the plants were still short, so it was hard to see the plants in spite of the decent water clarity. We found six species: horned and sago pondweed; redhead and widgeon grass; milfoil; and Elodea. We found a lot more sago pondweed than we found here in past years, and it was the fairly robust variety, with longer and broader leaves than what is more common elsewhere--similar in form to what I have seen in Muddy Creek on the Rhode River and in the Severn River (see photo of the latter, unfortunately the bayonet is out of focus). The sago had no flowers or seeds but the clear bayonets were well defined, and the only widgeongrass we found was the short form (it tends to come up more slowly than sago pondweed). It is possible that there was the same amount of sago in past years, but it was hard to see because we looked later in the season and the other species were taller and denser then. It could also be that there really is more sago this year, due to the higher than normal salinity. In past years when I visited I found mostly the same species, except I found no Elodea there in 1997. See the map of what species we found where, and a photo of what I think was Nuttall's waterweed Elodea nuttallii (because the salinity was so high). The lower salinity Elodea canadensis is usually more robust and bushier. The new SAV guide coming out next week will be the first Chesapeake guide to mention the two species of Elodea, although when it went to press, we did not have any photos that we were sure were of one species or the other. Growing at 14 ppt, I think this one must be Nuttall's, and it resembles the drawings of that species in Brown & Brown.

06/12/06 Peter Bergstrom, NOAA

Havre de Grace (Quad 003)

I visited the marina at Millard Tydings Park in Havre de Grace on Sunday, 6/11/06. I did not have a boat so I was limited to using a throw rake off the bulkhead, but I was pleased to find visible beds containing 7 species, a sizable portion of the species usually found in Susquehanna Flats. Secchi depth was only 0.5 m and salinity was about 0.5 ppt with a refractometer. The SAV species I found were curly pondweed Pcr, Spiny naiad Nm, Hydrilla Hv, milfoil Ms, water stargrass Hd (one small piece), wild celery Va (a few dense beds), and coontail Cd (one dense bed). Several people were fishing in and near the Va/Ms bed labeled #16. See map.

06/12/06 Terry Willis

Fairlee Creek (Quads 015, 021)

I have to date only seen SAV to the surface in Fairlee Creek around Great Oak Marina. I also have some small patches of horned pondweed in one creek in the Chester, but they wouldn't be readily visible from the air. I normally don't begin survey until late June early July. On a related note, salinity at my station on Eastern Neck (Durdin Creek, Quad 026) has pushed up to 13-14 ppt, undoubtedly due to the lack of significant spring rainfall. It had been averaging around 10 ppt for the past couple of years. The last time time salinity pushed up and stayed up this high there was a significant SAV crash in the lower Chester that growing season.

06/17/06 Tom Powers

Poquoson River (Quad 140)

I went out to go crabbing this morning, which I usually do by working the eel grass beds at low tide. It was a very disappointing trip not so much because I did not get any crabs. It was more a case of no grass beds. Historically, (at least the past 10 years) there have been good grass beds just outside of the mouth of Roberts Creek (which is a small creek between Poquoson River and Bennets Creek). Also, there was historically a nice stand of eel grass on the sandbar that juts across the mouth of the Poquoson River at Hunts Point. Also, there were historically several small stands of eel grass in between the sand bars just South of the mouth of Roberts Creek. This year's report. NO stands of sea grass were observed in any of the above locations. I saw an occasional section of grass the size of a dinner plate on the inshore waters near the mouth of Roberts Creek. I saw no grass (even small patches) in between the sandbars south of Roberts Creek. I saw no major grass beds on the flat across the mouth of the Poquoson River at Hunts Point. I did not walk this last area so I do not know if there were any small patches of grass in that area.

06/18/06 Terry Willis

Chester River (Quads 022, 193)

I had the opportunity today to do some surveying in the Upper Chester (above the bridge) and found some small patches of millfoil on both the Kent and Queen Anne's sides just above a line from Buckingham Rd. (Kent Co.) to Possum Pt. (QAnne's Co.)~ lattitude 39 deg-14.2min N /long 76-deg 0.5min W. and below Foreman Branch. The densest patches were on the Kent side just above the public landing on Buckingham Rd. This was one of the two areas SAV was present last season in the upper Chester.

06/26/06 Peter Bergstrom, NOAA

Severn River (Quad 023)

I looked for SAV via kayak on 6/22/06 at low tide on Saltworks Creek and the adjacent Martins Pond, on the Severn River (MD). I was helped by Allison Albert, who is working for the Severn Riverkeeper, Fred Kelly this summer, and a volunteer, Sophia Kim. Secchi depth was moderate (0.75 m) and salinity was fairly high for June (12 ppt), with many medium sized sea nettles seen. This map shows what we found where; arrows show where we found Ppu (one site), and the farthest up the creek we found Ppf. We found 6 species, more than usual for a small area of the Severn: Ms Zp Rm Ppf Ppc Ppu. Both the Rm and Ppc were flowering--I think this was the first flowering Ppc (sago) I had seen anywhere in the Severn or Magothy rivers (see photo of Ppc flowering shoot). This was also the first slender pondweed (Ppu) I've ever seen on the Severn (see photo); it seemed to be increasing the the Magothy last year. In terms of distribution, species diversity decreased as we went up the creek, until there was only Ms and Zp and then very little SAV, and a few clumps of Zp where we had to turn around. It's encouraging to see redhead grass (Ppf) spreading up the Severn Creeks, since when it first spread in the Severn in the mid to late 1990's it was mainly restricted to the mainstem of the river.

The two SAV species that I've never seen in the tidal Severn, that occur in the Magothy and lower Chester where the salinity is not that much lower, are wild celery (Va) and Elodea (Ec). Va was mapped in the upper Severn mainstem in 1979 near Plum Creek, but was not found in the Severn in 1971-1990 point surveys, nor was Elodea. Those surveys turned up N (naiads), C (Chara), and Cd (coontail) in the Severn, none of which have been seen there recently. I've never seen Chara in the Magothy, and naiads and coontail are very rare there. Either slender pondweed has become more common, or the people doing the 1971-1990 MD surveys did not recognize it often, because they only recorded it 4 times over all sites and years, twice in Susquehanna Flats and twice in the Chester.

06/28/06 Kent Mountford

Patuxent River (Quad 061)

In 2005 I did relatively little cruising to places where there was SAV. At the Osborn Cove Pier, however, after the Zannichellia died off, there was a significant "patch" about 10 sq m, of Ruppia that appreared along the sandbar. It "died back" with no remaining evidence and during winter I thought that it had been scoured out by ice and wind-waves.

This was not the case, though very strong Zannichellia growth was very slow in coming this season, it was a solid crop, now all dying off (eaten by the Sea nettles I suspect) leaving the Ruppia, to my surprise.

There's a natural drift along the bar and "patch" has expanded some 4 1/2 m updrift to about 17 m sq. and apparently with seed pockets, about 42 meters down-drift, the patches totaling another 4 1/2 m sq. The patches match the natural 2 m wind-wave sand cusps along the beach pretty well, occurring at about 9, 11, 15, 18, 22 and 42 m away from the parent.

Overall this is approximately a 2.6 fold increase in Ruppia. I see vegetative bits of Ruppia adrift in the creek. I suppose they're the colonizers, so this must be occurring elsewhere. Interesting to see if you can spot this from outer space when you fly the lines.

In the 1970s I "identified" Ruppia in the Cove, but suspect in my ignorance it could have been Zannichellia. Ruppia was here in the late 50s - early 1960's because of finding it wound round the shaft of an old outboard recovered in a shed here, stuffed there when the owner had a stroke. Anecdotally, residents here in the 60's said SAV made swimming hard because it wound round you all the time.

07/05/06 Nancy Rybicki, USGS

Potomac River (Quads 034, 040)

The SAV in the Potomac from Wilson Bridge (interstate 95) to Mount Vernon is diverse (Hydrilla, Najas minor, Myriophyllum, Chara, Vallisneria),thick, green, and healthy based on observations made from the shore or from wading at low tide in areas accessible from the shoreline on July 1 and July 4, after the extreme rain. Most species are at least 30 to 50 cm tall since emerging in early June or mid May. Myriophyllum, abundant this year, was 1 - 2m tall by early May between Quantico and Mount Vernon and probably elsewhere in the tidal fresh.

07/05/06 Peter Bergstrom, NOAA

Severn and Magothy rivers (Quads 023, 024, 031)

Severn River (MD) volunteer data: A. The graph shows a reverse salinity gradient in bottom salinity from data I collected on Monday 7/3 with the Severn Riverkeeper, Fred Kelly, volunteer Pierre Henkart who designed the monitoring network, and other volunteers. They use YSI 85 meters which agreed well on DO readings with my YSI meter and Winkler titrations (we did comparisons). The lower bottom salinity was seen only at the two most downriver stations (on the left in the graph), not at SR2/WT7.1 which is just upstream of the US 50 bridge. The highest bottom salinity, 12.2 ppt, was in Asquith Creek which also had more frequent anoxia than the other stations (I measured DO = 0.0 mg/l there twice in the last month). I suspect both patterns are due to its very narrow mouth and thus restricted tidal exchange, restricted even further by the extensive, dense SAV beds outside its mouth. B. Secchi depth showed a less pronounced mid-river peak than bottom salinity, with the best clarity in mid-river off Sherwood Forest (see graph; there are a few missing values I need to get). C. On 7/3 the SAV beds outside Asquith Creek appeared to be as dense and extensive as in past years, with many redhead grass flowers showing at the surface. However, when I was there the tide was lower than normal, so I'm not sure they would be showing on the surface at a more normal low tide. D.There are also Severn salinity & DO data from 6/30 from the same stations, that I am waiting to get from Pierre Henkart. E. I collected some Secchi, DO, temperature and salinity data here in Spa Creek at the end of our pier right after the rain and a few times since then. The day after it stopped raining (Wed 6/28), Secchi depth dropped to 0.3 m and the water looked brown, and bounced back to about 0.8-0.85 m on Thurs and Fri. Surface salinity (@ 0.1 m) on Wed. was down to 5.0 ppt which quickly rose past 10 as I dropped the meter, reaching 11.7 ppt on the bottom, 3.2 m deep. By Friday surface salinity was up to 8.5 ppt and bottom was down slightly, 10.3 ppt.

Magothy River volunteer data: A. We sampled 9 stations on Saturday 7/1 but I only have data from 3 of the 9 stations so far. At the 3 stations for which I have data, there was a reverse salinity gradient in surface salinity only, with 7.5 ppt in Forked Creek and 8.0/8.7 ppt upriver in Cattail and Old Man creeks respectively. Bottom salinity was 10-10.3 ppt at all 3 stations. B. Secchi depths on 7/1 were better than what I measured before the rain on 6/16 at Forked Ck (0.9 m), the same as before the rain at Old Man Ck (0.95 m), and worse than before the rain at Cattail Creek (0.6 m). C. Bottom DO was < 2 mg/l on 7/1 at all 3 stations, but that's fairly common in the Magothy in the summer. One of the stations had bottom DO < 2 mg/l on 6/1/6 and 2 had this on 6/3. Last year, all 3 stations had DO < 2 twice, on 8/18/05 and 9/17/05.

07/10/06 Terry Willis

Chester River (Quad 026)

I have surveyed from the bridge at Eastern Neck Narrows (lat 39-03'-15.0"/long 076-13'-20.8") to just below Ingleside recreation (lat 39-02'-43.7"/long 076-14'-14.7") on July 9. Along the shore moving north to south I found small patches of redhead grass and wigeon grass. At Tubby Cove (lat 39-02'-51.8"/long 076-13'-19.9") there is dense growth of a mixture of millfoil and redhead grass, with proportionally more millfoil, with coverage in the 3-5 acre range. This pattern continues southward into Calfpasture Cove (lat 39-02'-42.3"/long 076-13'-34.8") with coverage in the 8-10 acre range. Past the southern edge of Calfpasture (lat 39-02'-50.7"/long 076-13'-38.8") there is a dramatic decrease in coverage until at the end of the survey now growth was found. In this portion of the survey growth was patches of redhead grass, patches of wigeon grass, and patches of elodea, most of which was not growing to the surface but had to be raked up. There was no evidence of any offshore growth on the Bay side in the narrows at this time. Secchi depths ranged from nearly a meter in the densest growth areas to just under .5 m in open water. A water composite water sample taken had a salinity of 5ppt.

Other Observations:

Fairlee Creek: There is a bed of millfoil growing around the eastern shore of Fairlee Creek (Great Oak shore) from lat 39-15'-48.1"/long 076-12'-15.4". The bed extends out from shore about 25-50 feet and is patchy. Secchi depth .70m. Salintiy 5 ppt. Date of observation 06/28/06.

Swan Creek: There is a bed of millfoil growing around the southern shore from Osprey Point Yacht Club (lat 39-08'-08.8"/long 076-15'-07.7") to Spring Cove Marina (lat 39-08'-46.4"/long 076-14'-47.7"). The coverage extends from shore out about 50-75 feet and is patchy. Secchi depth was .4 m and salinity was 3 ppt. Date of observation 07/06/06.

07/11/06 Bob Orth, VIMS

South Bay - SAV Update (Quads 143, 184, 212)

As you all know, we are requesting a renewal of our 400 acre set aside in South Bay in August. We are also hoping to get some additional area south of this as part of the set aside

We went out yesterday to get some idea of just how far eelgrass has spread naturally from the 400 acre set aside to give VMRC some idea of how the eelgrass is doing and in the area they might add to the current 400 acres.

We ran 4 transects to assess eelgrass presence outside the set aside, two that ran S-SW from the southern boundary, and two that ran west towards the mainland from the western boundary. Conditions for this assessment were not great as it was blowing S at 15-20 kts and a lot of the area was pretty stirred. Never-the-less, the entire area within the set aside was pretty clear as the grass is quite robust here and appears to be now just about everywhere within this 400 acre area, providing the necessary structure to keep the water clearer. There are numerous small to medium size patches between the 48 one acre plots planted in 2001 and 2002.

The two southern transects were a little over 600 meters each and we marked every meter where an eelgrass patch occurred. We were duly impressed (actually pretty darn excited) about how much eelgrass there was south of the set aside. We found eelgrass along the entire length of each of those transects (just about every meter mark had a patch of eelgrass). Although the patches were less numerous toward the end of those transects, these distant patches were still large (approx 0.25 m2) and appeared quite robust. And they went right up to the intertidal area where there are some aquaculture leases. And all these patches had to have come from seeds drifting from the area within the set aside!

The two western transects were interesting in that the one at the south end had very abundant eelgrass in the first 300 meters and then patches all the way out to 500 meters. Again, it was pretty exciting to see that much natural recolonization. The other west transect, which was closer to the north end of our set aside, had only 5 small patches over 300 meters. this is quite intriguing as to why such a large difference in eelgrass abundance between these two transects? It is possible it might reflect differences in how the flowering shoots move when they break off and subsequently disperse their seed in this region. It's also possible that the area could have been dredged for clammed and any grass removed because this area is a leased area for clam dredging.

In any case, it was an exciting day for all of us and these observations bodes quite well for the continued recovery of eelgrass in these seaside bays!


ps - one interesting observation was the presence of a lot of birds feeding over the grass bed at the inshore area of our set aside, diving for small fish, which we could see in the area. I can't remember observing this before. Is it possible that this is due to the grass supporting more small forage fish?

07/12/06 Terry Willis

Chester River (Quad 026)

The water up here in just about every direction is very turbid though probably you are correct in that the Chester is nowhere near as bad as the open Bay. I am also thinking from subjective observations that this event was nowhere near as bad as Agnes, even though about the same amount of rain fell (~10 inches). At that time the Chester was mostly mud for a few days. and at no time did it appear as bad this year. I think the fact that the event was spread over a week to a week and a half instead of a day is partly to account. Also, two things have changed over that time frame-now much of the acreage is conservation tillage of some form, accounting for less sediment runoff, there are probably more grassed waterways and buffers, and what stormwater controls there are in our urban areas are no doubt better. Also, we now grow about half corn and half soybeans, the later not requiring any nitrogen application. When Agnes came in 1972 we were growing predominantly corn and the storm came before the corn had incorporated much of the applied nitrogen. As far as salinity goes, it looks like that won't be a worry for a while at least, though we are still at just around even for rain for the year. I think both last season and what I have seen of this season indicated some SAV stress compared to the bumper crops of 2003-2004. I have been in the upper Chester once, a couple of weeks ago, and there was some millfoil around one of last years spots. It will be on my list of places to check again in the next few weeks.

07/17/06 Terry Willis

Chester River (Quad 026)

On July 16, 2006 I surveyed the river side of Eastern Neck from Bogel's Cove to Shipyard Creek. In Bogel's Cove (lat 39-02'-14.7"/long 076-12'-41.4") there were patches of redhead grass and widgeon grass, primarily along the south shore, extending out to about 50 feet, with lesser amounts going around the western shore and very little on the northern shore. In Durding Creek (lat 39-01'-54.1"/long 076-12'-36.4") there was no SAV along the northern shore from the public landing up to a point having lat 39-02'-02.1"/long 076-12'-57.6". At this point redhead grass and widgeon grass began appearing in patches. Moving across the head of the creek to the southern shore, the patches grew larger and more numerous, with some sago pondweed and millfoil mixed in. As with Bogel's Cove, the SAV primarily extended offshore 50 feet or so, and at only one point along the southern shore was there a dense canopy, primarily of redhead grass, maybe .5 acres in extent. In Shipyard Creek (lat 39-01'-37.2"/long 076-12'-34.6") there were small patches of redhead grass along the north shore, beginning at lat 39-01'-36.7"/long 076-12'-43.7". Proceeding along the shoreline from north to south the redhead grass became mixed with patches of sago pondweed and millfoil. The southern shore had much less growth than the northern shore. As with the other areas surveyed, the growth was along the shore, out to a distance of 50 feet more or less.

Secchi depth in the vicinity of the densest growth areas in Durding Creek was ~.6m. Immediately outside the growth areas the secchi depth was .4-.45m. Salinity in the center of the creek was 6 ppt, compared to 10 ppt in the beginning of May, and 10-12 ppt earlier in the year.

Secchi depth in Shipyard Creek was .4m, with no noticeable difference between growth and non growth areas, the growth being more sparse than in Durding Creek. Salinity in the center of the creek was 7.5 ppt.

Compared to last year there is much less growth to date in these areas, with Durding Creek (which has the greatest amount of coverage both years, showing the greatest amount of change. There was very little elodea (an occasional small piece could be raked up, none was seen at the surface) and only small amounts of millfoil. Additionally, the growth appears mainly along the shorelines with only a couple of small areas filled in.

07/18/06 Peter Bergstrom, NOAA

I don't visit the Eastern shore as often as the Western, but I spent 2 days accompanying Steve Ailstock and his staff on trips to look for seed collecting beds of widgeongrass (Rm), and to plant some seeds at Barren Island. We were hoping to find lots of Rm, but mostly documented declines since the last few years.

Tred Avon (Quad 044) (7/11): Continued decline in Rm this year, compared to 2004. Beds were large and dense enough for Steve to collect Rm seeds here in the past; not so this year. The map shows we found Rm in the mouth of Fox Hole Creek and in Flatty Creek, but only the grasses in Flatty Creek were to the surface and flowering, and even there they looked a bit thin. Waypoints 070 and 071 were both spots that had dense Rm in the past but none this year; we had to go towards shore to 072 to find any this year. There were few beds mapped here last year, but much more extensive beds were mapped here in 2004

Barren Island (Quads 072, 073) (7/17): SAV declines here as well, and changes in sediment. We went to Barren Island to check an area where Steve and his staff had put SAV wrack last fall, and there was no trace of any plants except for a few sprigs of Rm. See map for location. The shallow area at the break in the island, enclosed by the breakwater, had silted in since last fall, with about 0.3 m of new, very "fluffy" sediment. They planted some new Rm seeds, but given the sediment type, their growth seems unlikely. Secchi depth was only 0.3 m, water depth was 0.35 m at low tide, water temperature was a balmy 31.2 C, and salinity was 13 ppt. It appeared that the protected area had gotten siltier a few years after breakwater construction, making it less conducive to SAV growth, similar to what Evamaria Koch documented at Bishops Head nearby. As we returned to the boat ramp, we saw a few dark patches in the distance near shore, that were probably Rm, but the water outside the channel was too shallow to check them out. This was apparently greatly reduced from the SAV that was mapped along this channel last year, when beds Q2 and IA3 were right next to the channel we used ( The beds we saw were hugging the shore, near what was mapped as R1 last year. The greenhead flies were memorable, as well as the heat!

Slaughter Creek (Little Choptank) (Quad 062) (7/17): Another continued decline in Rm this year. This creek had a few dense Rm beds last year (see, and they were dense and large enough in 2004 ( and previous years (starting in 2002) for Steve to collect Rm seeds there. However, this year we found only 2 sparse patches of short form Rm, with no flowers, in two locations shown on the map. The cruise track shows where we went, and we only found SAV at the 2 points marked.

This left Steve with hopes that the Potomac will have Rm beds with enough seeds to harvest for his ongoing research; he said Tom Parham was looking for them there.

07/18/06 Terry Willis

Chester River (Quads 022, 026)

I have been monitoring water quality in Durdin Creek (lat 39-01'54.1"/long 076-12'-36.4") for a number of years at a dock just inside the mouth of the creek. I have water clarity, salinity and water temperature for the most part biweekly from about the year 2000. If I had the acres of SAV in the creek, or the % coverage, I might be able to match it up with these parameters and see what the significance of the relationships are. I have my field SAV observations but they are somewhat subjective, being taken from a kayak and not being able to see the entire area at once. I think over that time period salinity bottomed out about 2002-2003 and water clarity maxed out at the same time, and that these years had the best SAV growth. I also got to wondering recently if the higher water temperatures the past two seasons were having any effect.

I surveyed the Upper Chester from lat 39-14'-37.3"/long 075-58'-42.0" to lat 39-14'-10.0"/long 075-59'-51.3" on July 17, 2006. On the Queen Anne's County side I was able to rake up some very short pieces of what appeared to be hydrilla at the northeastern most part of the survey, in front of the campground at Duck Neck. Other than this I found nothing on either side of the river for the entire extent of the survey. Secchi depth was ~ .25m and salinity was 0 ppt. The down river extreme of this survey tied in with the upriver extreme of my survey in June from Buckingham Wharf (in which millfoil was found on both shores) so that the combined survey covers from Buckingham Wharf on the Kent side to Duck Neck campground on the Queen Anne's side.

07/19/06 Bill Severn, UMCES

Little Annemessex River (Quad 101)

If you are still looking for flowering Ruppia, the Little Annemessex River and the area around Cedar Island has extensive flowering beds ( I was in the area on the 17th and was quite impressed at the extensive bed extending along the northern shore of Cedar Island just west of Broad Creek. Additionally, the southern side of Cedar Island, from Broad Creek to Fishing Creek also has some dense areas of flowering Ruppia, with some Zostera mixed in as well. This bed is not as continuous as the one on the north side of the island.

07/24/06 Bob Orth, VIMS

Aerial Update

The 2006 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 2006 photography has been more of a challenge this year than ever before and it seems to get more complicated each successive year. Winds, higher than predicted tides, fog during the 2 hour sun window in the morning, TS Alberto and the "Big" June rain provided the challenges to getting good photoraphy so far this year. This year's survey of the lower bay SAV beds is particularly important because it will provide the documentation needed to fully assess the impacts of the 2005 eelgrass defoliation event. We, along with many others, are very closely watching temperatures this summer given what we observed last year. Most areas that experienced a serious dieback are recovering with eelgrass seedlings, which did not produce flowering shoots this year, and hence seed production this spring was either absent or significantly reduced in many areas. Another very hot summer could be devastating.

The other event we are now following is the rainfall event at the end of June which has left much of the upper bay above Kent Island covered in quite turbid water even through this weekend based on what we see from the MODIS satellite. Extensive field reports from Terry Willis of SAV in the Chester River, which appeared to have less turbidity than the rest of the upper bay, are still showing less SAV than in 2005. This may be due to the higher salinities reported from that region in the early part of the season (refer to MD DNR's Eyes on the Bay site for detailed environmental data

We continue to receive some interesting field observations from a number of sources and have posted them on our web site under the 2006 field observations ( As always, many of these are from Peter Bergstrom and we appreciate the numerous detailed notes. If you can find the time please share any of your observations with us and the SAV community, as they are quite valuable in providing species information that is important in understanding community dynamics.

THE 2006 SAV ANNUAL SURVEY Listed below are the locations in the lower Bay where we have acquired photography for 2006. For those sections, I have listed the flight lines that cover the areas and the dates they were flown. Please see our website for a map of the lines that have been flown ( Please note that none of the beds noted here in the 2006 photography have been mapped or digitized and these are simply my first observations from the photograph; however, I have tried to give some reasonable estimate of how beds look in 2006 compared to 2005. Lastly, we have made some modification to our program protocols and will begin processing the 2006 SAV beds in July with the aim of having a bay-wide number by the end of February, two months earlier than in previous years. It also means we will have a good idea of the extent of 2005's eelgrass dieback in most areas by the end of the summer. In spring 2006 we conducted an extensive ground survey of dieback sites, and observed a large number of seedlings in many of the previously dense beds. In some of these areas, robust seedling growth has resulted in an observable canopy, however, in many areas seedling growth will be much too sparse to be noted on the photography. Only where there are large numbers of seedlings and where the growth is significant, will we be able to detect SAV on the photography.


BROAD BAY (CB Segment LYNPH) (Flight lines 102, 103 flown on June 14) (Quad 152) SAV has been present in the past along a narrow fringe of the southern shore at the entrance to the bay as well as a small area along the north shore. There is no clear SAV visible on the photography, although several field reports noted some seedlings in these areas. Other beds noted in previous years along the north shore and along shoals at the east end remain absent.

LYNNHAVEN RIVER (CB Segment LYNPH) (Flight lines 102, 103 flown on June 14) (Quad 152) No SAV was noted and none has been recently reported.

LITTLE CREEK (CB Segment LYNPH) (Flight line 102 flown on June 14) (Quad 151) SAV (both eelgrass and widgeon grass) has been present in the past just inside the mouth adjacent to the amphibious base. The photography does indicate some beds in this region in 2006.

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 completely defoliated and died in all these areas except Back River in 2005. The photography and extensive field observations have shown significant recovery in these regions in 2006. However, except for the Back River where adult plants survived the dieback, it is all from seedlings.

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) SAV almost completely defoliated in all these areas in 2005. The photography and quite a bit of field observations have shown significant recovery in these regions in 2006. However, except for small areas near Allens Island, it is essentially all from seedlings. There were a few areas that had small sections of robust adult plants and numerous flowering shoots but these were rare and made up only a small proportion of the total area in this section. Close examination of transects established at the Goodwin Island NERRS site has shown extensive seedling abundance in 2006. However, several transects in the York River revealed little eelgrass in areas that just a few years ago were densely vegetated. Some of these areas had been influenced by Isabel and had begun recovering when the 2005 defoliation event knocked them back further.

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 also completely defoliated and died in most areas in 2005 except for the regions along the north shore close to the mouth at New Point and a small region around Horn Harbor just above New Point facing the bay. The photography and quite a bit of field observations have shown significant recovery in these regions in 2006. Seedlings have fueled much of that recovery, but there has been some robust growth in those areas where adult plants remained in the fall, 2005.

PIANKATANK RIVER and MILFORD HAVEN (CB Segment PIAMH) (Flight lines 89, 90, 91; flown on June 8) (Quads 117, 118, 123) Eelgrass in the Piankatank and Milford Haven areas also defoliated and it appears most died (an interesting observation we made here, but noted elsewhere, was that where eelgrass and widgeongrass co-occurred, eelgrass died out while widgeongrass remained, again suggesting this phenomena was temperature induced). It appeared that eelgrass at the south end of Gwynns Island (refered to as "the Hole in the Wall") regrew vigorously from some surviving stock but other areas are only sparsely vegetated in 2006.

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) Almost all of the SAV in this section has been widgeongrass with some eelgrass observed along the north shore near the mouth at Windmill Pt. In 2006, it appears widgeongrass is doing quite well in these same sections and while we have no field observations for these areas yet, I would surmise that very patchy eelgrass beds remain in the lower section at the mouth, adjacent to Windmill Pt.

WINDMILL POINT (mouth of RAPPAHANNOCK) to SMITH POINT (mouth of POTOMAC) (CB Segment CB5MH) (Flight lines 83, 84, 85, 86, 138; flown on July 17) (Quads 106, 112) SAV beds in this section consist of both eelgrass and widgeongrass. The photography has shown SAV beds in many of the same areas as in 2005, but beds in most areas are less dense that what was noted in 2005. In a couple of areas, some new beds have appeared, e.g. Fleeton Pt. at the mouth of the Great Wicomico, which is undoubtedly widgeongrass, based on prior years of ground data.

EASTERN SHORE CAPE CHARLES up to and including BIG MARSH and CHESCONESSEX CREEK (CB Segment CB7PH) (Flight lines 104-107; flown June 4, 13) (Quads 108, 113, 114, 119, 124, 133, 134, 142).

Old Plantation Creek to Cape Charles SAV is very patchy, and more so than in 2005. This area is very exposed and has numerous sand bars with SAV sandwiched between the bars. Much of the SAV in this area got hammered by Isabel and has not recovered.

Cherrystone Creek (Cape Charles area) there are some dense beds near the mouth along the east side (next to the campground) and appears to be similar to what we observed in 2005. However, the overall abundance is below what we have mapped in previous years.

Hungars Creek area there is a very dense bed off the mouth of Hungars Creek (the Vaucluse Shores area). However, many beds in the creek are absent or very patchy compared to 2005. In the field, we observed that the Vaucluse Shores bed had large number of flowering shoots with numerous seeds suggesting significant adult survival in this region.

Nassawadox Creek SAV is significantly reduced or absent from areas mapped in 2005. There is one area just north of the creek (Silver Beach) that has some patchy but more continuous SAV.

Occohannock, Craddock, Pungoteague, Onancock, and Chesconessex Creeks and adjacent Parker and Finney Islands Creek SAV is significantly reduced or absent from areas mapped in 2005 although some dense beds remain.

Nandua Creek SAV appears much more robust here and is similar to what we mapped in 2005.

Big Marsh area and Webb and Halfmoon Island and surrounding areas in Pocomoke Sound SAV is significantly reduced in several of the areas mapped in 2005 but there are some areas where adult plants survived 2005, and where seedling growth has been quite robust resulting in some dense areas e.g., off Halfmoon Island in Pocomoke Sound.

07/24/06 Chris Tanner, St. Mary's College

St. Mary's River (Quads 079, 080)

On July 17, 2006, I went out with Mike Naylor from MD DNR and his crew to look at their eelgrass testplots in the St. Mary's River. We looked at plots north of Sage Point (just south of the naval base - NESEA), at Cherryfield Point and on the east side of St. Georges Island, just north of Evans Restaurant. At each site there were several one meter square plots in which they had planted vegetative shoots of eelgrass in the fall. There were also a couple plots at each site in which 50 eelgrass seeds were scattered in the fall. For the plots with vegetative shoots, we counted the number of plantings surviving, which was difficult because of vegetative propagation. For the seed plots, the total number of shoots was counted.

The eelgrass was much sparser than the plots at Piney Point planted by the Wilson Bridge Project. On the other hand the blades were largely free of epiphytes and looked healthy, with signs of propagation. The plants at Sage Point were relatively small, but denser than the other two sites. At Cherryfield Point and St. Georges Island, the plots also had widgeon grass, making the counting difficult. The eelgrass at these two sites was very tall and had broad leaves (probably competing for light with the widgeon grass). Again, the eelgrass looked much more healthy than that at Piney Point. We also surveyed eelgrass from plantings in the fall of 2004 (from seed bags). This eelgrass was widely distributed through the fairly dense widgeon grass bed, and again looked healthy.

We also took a look at the eelgrass at Piney Point. As we had observed the previous Friday, plots at this site had a high shoot densities of eelgrass, but the blades are heavily epiphytized and are starting to defoliate. However, when measuring shoot density on the previous Friday, we did observe that that there are quite a few young shoots that are largely free of epiphytes.

See an aerial photo of the eelgrass plots at Piney Point that Justin Reel sent me (in the photo you can see my crew surveying the plots). I will be going out this coming Thursday to survey the eelgrass plots at Piney Point and in the St. Mary's River. I will also check to see if the eelgrass has survived at NESEA. Widgeon grass is doing very well in the St. Mary's River with lots of flowers and developing seeds. However, there is very little widgeon grass at Piney Point.

07/24/06 Terry Willis

Chester River (Quad 026)

On July 23, 2006 I surveyed the river side of Eastern Neck Narrows, from the bridge (lat 39-03.28'N/long 076-13.35'W), around the south shore (Frying Pan Cove), past Boxes Point (lat 39-03.1'/long 076-12.8W) to an unnamed point (lat 39-02.74'N/long 076-12.62'W), and the north shore of the narrows from the bridge to Ringgold Point (lat 39-03.6'N/long 076-13.0W). In this area there was some small patches of redhead grass in Frying Pan Cove (lat 39-02.9'N/long 076-13.1'W) very close to the south shore. I also observed some floating redhead grass and millfoil. On the north shore there was redhead grass and some wigeon grass on both sides of the mouth of Church Creek (lat 39-03.6'N/long 076-13.0'W). The east shore of Church Creek appeared to have growth from the shore out to about 20 feet. I will survey this creek next. Overall growth appears much less than last year. Secchi depths were about .35 m and salinity was 7 ppt.

07/28/06 Chris Tanner, St. Mary's College

St. Mary's River (Quads 079, 080)

Nancy Rybicki came out with us yesterday to collect sediment samples from the transplant sites in the lower Potomac/St. Mary's River. We collected 16 sediment samples from the Wilson Bridge planting sites at Piney Point (shallow & sparse; shallow & dense; deep & sparse; deep & dense) and 4 samples each from the DNR test plot sites at St. Georges Island, Cherryfield Point and Sage Point. See photos of the grass at each of the sites.

As reported last week the eelgrass at Piney Point was dense but heavily epiphytized. Some of the plots had thinned considerably (see slide 4), and unattached eelgrass leaves were observed scattered along the bottom suggesting defoliation. Out of 24 marked plots that we are following only one had no plants. On the other hand, the denser plots had not diminished in size, and green tissue was observed near the base of the shoots (see slides 2 and 3). At St. Georges Island and Cherryfield Points the eelgrass tended to be taller and almost free of epiphytes. In plots with less widgeon grass, the leaves were much shorter but still relatively clean (slide 6). The Sage Point site is deeper than the other sites, and the water more turbid. The eelgrass plots were denser than St. Georges and Cherryfield Point and the plants shorter and more epiphytized (slides 11, 12, 13, and 14), though not as badly as at Piney Point.

Temperatures and salinities at the four sites are given below:

Piney Point 26.7 C, 11.6 ppt

St. Georges Island 28.6 C, 13.0 ppt

Cherryfield Point 28.8 C, 13.2 ppt

Sage Point 28.9 C, 13.1 ppt

I will be checking on the eelgrass planted by the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay at Webster Field later today and will let you know how its doing on Monday.

07/31/06 Terry Willis

Chester River (Quad 026)

On July 30, 2006 Church Creek was surveyed from lat 39-03'-30.3"N/long 076-13'-03.1"W, up the western shore of the creek to a point at lat 39-04'-49.7"N/long 076-13'-10.5"W, and back down the eastern shore of the creek to a point at lat 39-03'30.3"N/long 076-12'-55.5"W. Along the western shore there were some small beds of redhead grass just inside the mouth of the creek, maybe .25 acre in extent. From here, there was nothing up the west side of the creek until some small patches of wigeon grass began appearing north of lat 39-04'-29.3"N/long 076-13'-10.8"W. Progressing northward from here to the turnaround point, more wigeon grass patches appeared, along with several very small patches of millfoil. Total aerial coverage was very small. Along the eastern bank of the creek from the turnaround point proceeding southward there were areas of wigeon grass mixed with redhead grass, in some areas fairly dense, extending out into the water 50-75 feet from shore, in other areas restricted to 10-15 feet from the shoreline. There were several small stretches along the eastern shore with no detectable growth. Best growth along this shore was at a point of lat 39-03'-41.9"N/long 076-12'-52.4"W, with mostly redhead grass mixed with small amounts of wigeon grass. At this location secchi depth was ~.35m and salinity 8 ppt. Along the eastern shore of the creek there was a transition of mostly wigeon grass (with small patches of redhead grass) at the upper reaches of the creek to mostly redhead grass (with patches of wigeon grass) near the mouth of the creek. Along this shore there may be up to 4-5 acres of total coverage. Notable was the complete absence of elodea and the near absence of millfoil.

08/01/06 Bob Orth, VIMS

Aerial Update

We have finally been successful in acquiring photography over the mid-bay island complex area (Tangier to Bloodsworth Islands) and the adjacent tributaries on the western shore (Little Annemessex River to Fishing Bay)! There are some interesting observations noted below compared to 2005 but the main points are that it appears there are some very robust populations of widgeongrass in some of the areas noted below this year, notably Bloodsworth Island, and that eelgrass populations in the mid-bay have rebounded and are doing well (so far).

In addition, I took a low level reconnaissance flight over some of Virginia's freshwater areas which I'll describe at the end but the freshwater SAV's here are doing quite well.

I want to once again thank Peter Bergstrom and as well as Chris Tanner (St Mary's River) and Terry Willis (Chester River and Eastern Neck Island) who have taken the time to write up their SAV observations which we have posted on our web site (

We now have our sights set on the rest of the bay and tributaries and hope we do not have another rain event like what we had in June that turned the upper bay brown for weeks. If you have a chance to look at the Modis satellite images each day, check out how the bay has changed since that rain event - its pretty neat! ***********************************************************************************************************************

POCOMOKE SOUND (CB Segment POCMH, TANMH) (Flight lines 109, 110, 111; flown July 24) (Quads 100, 101, 108, 109) SAV along the north side (MD portion) around Broad Creek and into Broad Creek going to Crisfield, is present but not as widely distributed as last year. The beds at the mouth of Broad Creek heading toward Great Fox Island are very patchy compared to 2005, most likely a reflection of the eelgrass dieback in 2005.

WATTS ISLAND (CB Segment TANMH) (Flight line 111; flown July 24) (Quad 107) SAV is still present on the east side of island but is very patchy, similar to last year.

GREAT FOX ISLAND (CB Segment TANMH) (Flight lines 109, 110, 111; flown July 24) (Quad 100) SAV is present along the east side of the Fox Islands and in the shoal area called Cedar Straits. While the inshore area is dense (probably widgeongrass) a large portion of the outer shoal area appears to be much sparser or even absent in 2006, most likely a reflection of the eelgrass dieback in 2005. Beds in this area are still quite reduced from what was recorded in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

TANGIER and SMITH ISLAND (CB Segment TANMH) (Flight lines 112, 113; flown July 24) (Quads 91, 92, 99, 100, 107). SAV is dense and abundant in a number of locations, notably Mailboat Harbor inside Tangier Island, the area around Fishbone Island (just north of Tangier Island) up to South Point Marsh on Smith Island. Much of this area is covered by eelgrass in the deeper portions (which has been field verified by VIMS staff) and widgeongrass in the shallows. The large shallow water area near Ewell (the Big Thoroughfare) and many of the cut-throughs to the island have patchy SAV this year. Again, the amount of SAV is still a far cry from what has been reported in the 1990s.

SOUTHMARSH ISLAND (CB Segment TANMH) (Flight lines 5, 6, 137; flown July 25) (Quad 91) SAV beds are present in Sheepshead Harbor, Pry Cove, and Johnson Cove, with general distribution similar to past years. Some portions of the area are dense.

BLOODSWORTH ISLAND (CB Segment TANMH) (Flight lines 5, 6, 137; flown July 25) (Quad 83) There appears to be a significant increase in SAV between Adam and Northeast Island and into Northeast Cove at south end of Bloodsworth Beds compared to 2005, esp. between Adam and Northeast Island. The large bed in Okahanikan Cove is again present and dense. These areas are dominated by widgeongrass, as several of us noted in ground surveys in 2005. The large bed at the south end off Adams Island has undergone large fluctuations in the past, typical of widgeongrass, but interestingly the bed in Okahanikan Cove has persisted for many years and has not undergone these drastic fluctuations.

HOLLAND ISLAND (CB Segment TANMH) (Flight lines 5, 6, 137; flown July 25) (Quads 83, 91) Two large and very dense beds have appeared along the east side of the island in 2006, most likely widgeongrass.

LITTLE ANNEMESSEX RIVER (CB Segment TANMH) (Flight lines 110, 111; flown July 24) (Quads 100, 101) Many of the dense beds noted in 2005 are either absent or sparse. There are a couple of areas that do have dense beds, notably at the mouth along the south shore off Great Pt.

BIG ANNEMESSEX RIVER (CB Segment BIGMH) (Flight lines 1, 1A; flown July 24) (Quad 93) SAV is present primarily in dense beds at or near the mouth, esp. in Hazard Cove on the north side and adjacent to Jackson Island at the mouth of Jones Creek on the south shore. Some beds esp. at the north end of Janes State Park are much reduced from 2005.

DEAL ISLAND AND LOWER MANOKIN RIVER (CB Segment MANMH) (Flight lines 2, 3, 4; flown July 24) (Quad 84) There is not a lot of SAV in this system in 2006 and what is present is at the mouth along the south side. Very little is present around Little Deal Island.

WICOMICO RIVER to FISHING BAY (CB Segments WICMH, NANMH, FSBMH) (Flight lines 4-11; flown July 24) (Quads 74, 75, 83, 84, 85) There is essentially no SAV in these sections, as noted in previous years.

LOW LEVEL AERIAL RECONNAISSANCE OF VA FRESHWATER AREAS ON JULY 28 Finally, I took a low level flight (500 ft) on July 29 over some of the upper portions of the Virginia tributaries to get some insights over how SAV was doing in these systems, before we get the high altitude photography. I was impressed by what we saw. We started over the Rt. 3 bridge in the lower Rappahannock River and proceeded along the north shore over Carters Creek up to the Corrotoman River. There was an abundance of SAV, which we know is pretty much widgeongrass. It appeared to be quite robust and thicker than what we observed last year. We were flying close to low tide and much of it was laying on the surface suggesting that what we were observing was an abundance of the flowering shoots. From what we noted in the high altitude photography highlighted above and these observations, it does appear that widgeongrass in some areas of the bay is doing very well!

We next proceeded to the upper Piankatank River (Quads 116, 117, 118) where we mapped SAV for the first time last year. SAV was present again and quite thick. Ken Moore has been doing some work here recently, and reported finding several freshwater species, primarily Ceratophyllum, Potamogeten pusillus, and Elodea. What a contrast from the lower river where eelgrass is present but not expanding despite a lot of effort on our part to restore it.

We continued over to the Mattaponi (Quads 225, 226) and Pamunkey (Quads 225, 228, 229) rivers and the SAV was really thick. Our field surveys have shown these areas are now dominated by hydrilla. SAV is continuing to expand downriver in the Pamunkey and all the little creeks entering these systems are also loaded with SAV.

We then headed over to the James River and headed down river to the Chickahominy River (Quads 127, 128, 210). While we noted no SAV in the mainstem in this section several of the smaller creeks entering the James appeared to be loaded with SAV, in particular Herring Creek (Quad 125) just down from Westover Plantation and close to where Ken Moore is involved in some freshwater restoration. It was pretty impressive given how turbid the mainstem James appeared!

We wrapped up flying up the Chickahominy River (Quad 127, 128, 136, 210) and found abundant SAV from about mid-river to the dam. The downriver areas only have sparse SAV and hugging the shallow areas next to shore. All the smaller creeks entering the Chickahominy are loaded with SAV. The SAV in this region is dominated by hydrilla but further downriver, Najas minor and Ceratophyllum are dominant.

Please share this with any other interested individuals or groups.


08/04/06 Julie Bortz, MD-DNR

Monie Bay, Gunpowder and Bush rivers (Quads 007, 008, 013, 014, 085)

I wanted to pass along a quick note to let you know what I've been seeing at some of the areas throughout the Bay

At Monie Bay, near Fishing Bay where you've flown, we've seen a fair amount of fringing SAV beds in the tributaries (Big Monie Creek, Little Monie and Little creek) around Monie Bay. We've seen quite a bit of Ruppia maritima (Rm), Zannichellia palustris (Zp) and Potamogeton pusillus (Ppu) particularly in Big Monie Creek. Greater distribution then even last year. I can get you GPS coordinates if you like but I don't think these areas show up on your aerials as they are fringing beds in relatively narrow creeks.

Also, I was out with Todd Beser at US AEC last week in the lower Gunpowder (Dundee and Saltpeter creeks and around Carroll Island) and there is a tremendous amount of Vallisneria americana (Va) and Potamogeton perfoliatus (Ppf) in those creeks and lower Gunpowder just north of Battery Point. Va and Ppf are the dominant plants in the lower Gunpowder/Carroll Island/Dundee and Saltpeter creeks areas, mixed with Myriophyllum spicatum (Ms), Ceratophyllum demersum (Cd), and Ppu. We also saw some healthy crispus beds that is fairly unusual to see this late in the summer. The visibility was marginal compared to previous "good" SAV years (1996-2001) and I suspect this is somewhat due to the recent rains but more likely due to the lack of ground cover (typically Najas guadalupensis (Nju) and Elodea nutallii/canadensis (Ec)) that was common during these years. There was some Nju in Benjies Cove and up in Dundee Creek but not much in Battery Cove where it used to be the dominant species. Additionally, elodea used to dominate Benjies Cove and was common in Dundee Creek and there were only very trace amounts observed throughout the area. I'm not sure why the shift or loss of the ground cover species as we used to see Va, Ppf, and other species co-existing well with elodea and najas.

We also have not seen the Hydrilla verticillata (Hv) back in Otter Point Creek and many of the other areas (Church Creek and lower Bush River) as we had in 2003 and 2004. Again, not sure why the change but where Hv once dominated Otter Point Creek, almost forming an impassable meadow of grass, we are only seeing trace amounts of Hv in Otter Point Creek and very little to no Ms, Va, Cd and other species that we observed last in any considerable amounts in 2004. The Hv began to disappear in 2005 and has not really returned in any significant amount in 2006. Again, not sure why the shift and/or loss. It first came in in 2002, boomed in 2003 and 2004 and then has pretty quickly disappeared in 2005 and 2006.

There are definately some interesting changes in SAV distribution and composition occurring in the Bush and Gunpowder Rivers. It would certainly be interesting to know why and I'm curious to see what you all see in the imagery for this area.

08/07/06 Mike Naylor, MD-DNR

Susquehanna Flats (Quads 003, 004, 009)

This past Friday I had the opportunity to spend the day boating on the Susquehanna Flats with Capt. Mike Benjamin. Mike has been boating, fishing and hunting on the Flats since he was a child, and he is on the water more days than not. The Flats are notoriously difficult to navigate, and many a boater has spent long hours waiting for a rising tide to carry them off a sandbar. Having a guide like Mike with detailed local knowledge is a huge advantage- I was able to get to places I would never have tried to navigate on my own. We started the day in the Northeast River, poking into coves from the town of Northeast all the way out to the mouth. SAV in the Northeast River has been increasing every year, but above Charlestown there is still almost nothing. Immediately below Charlestown, however, there is vegetation on both sides of the river in every cove. The beds are milfoil on the deeper end, then mostly hydrilla and wild celery in the shallows. Water stargrass is in a few spots, but does not co-dominate biomass as it does on the Flats proper. SAV in the Northeast is growing at depths of 4 feet and below, considerably less than in the Flats. Leaving the Northeast River, we headed east and then followed the broad, shallow channel south around the very dense, shallow SAV bed that dominates the north side of the flats. This shallow bed (south-east of Stump Point), which a few years ago was so dense it looked like an island, has been much reduced in density. This reduction was noticed after hurricane Ivan, and reports are that Ivan left up to a foot of sediment in this area and in some spots along the channel to the east. This shallow bar is covered by unconsolidated sand, and it shifts unpredictably when Susquehanna River flows are very high. No one who knows the area ever attempts to take a boat through this spot, as grounding would be a certainty. We skirted around it, keeping it a few hundred feet to our west, and we could see a lot of wild celery and water stargrass fragments being washed out. So although this bed is not as dense as it once was, and is apparently even more shallow, it still has a lot of SAV visible and appears to have the same mix of species we found everywhere else. Once we were south of the shallowest spot, we moved back east so we could cross the Flats from the east to the west near the widest point, a distance of about 7 miles. The type and density of vegetation changes many times as one moves across the gigantic Flats bed. Against the eastern shore, halfway between White Point and Rocky Point, a dense bed of wild celery, water stargrass and milfoil extends several hundred yards from shore where two years ago there was only sparse milfoil. From the deepwater edge of this SAV bed up to shore the water is fairly clear, with the bottom visible at 3'. As you move west and the water depth increases to below 6' (mlw), the grass disappears and the water becomes more and more turbid, with a Secchi depth of 18'' to 2'. At a distance of 1.05 miles from the eastern shore (N 39 30.123' W 76 00.537'), as the depth changes from 6' to 5', the first clumps of milfoil begin to appear- becoming more and more dense. As the depth drops from 5' to 4', clumps of wild celery and water stargrass appear, growing more and more dense until they form a solid mass of 75-100% cover that continues for several miles. Inside this dense central bed, the water is very clear. Secchi depths range from 4-5', and the bottom is visible everywhere except in the many ditches that cross the Flats. In some locations, particularly in areas far from the ditches where water movement is minimal, dark filamentous algae covers everything. These patches of algae are quite large in some spots, covering several acres so densely that no SAV is visible. I imagine that if color photographs of the Flats were taken right now, these algae-covered patches would stand out quite distinctly from the lighter colors of the SAV. We have seen this on the Flats before, and it seems to appear and disappear fairly randomly and to not cause great damage except in localized areas. While numerous patches of algae were scattered through the Flats, each patch was surrounded by healthy SAV. With miles of good SAV, it is difficult to be too concerned (although we certainly want to keep our eyes on it). Great beds of SAV absolutely covered the main Flats bed, with wild celery, water stargrass, and milfoil being by far the dominant species. We also observed coontail, spiny naiad, slender pondweed, and hydrilla in the area, but at much lower densities. We doubled back as we approached the deep water shipping channel on the west side of the Flats, and headed south towards Turkey Point. The southern side of the Flats bed was very similar to the central part of the bed except that plant density is reduced and the water is far more turbid. This turbidity seems to always be present on the south side of the Flats, even when the middle Flats have more than 10' of visibility as we saw last summer. Starting at Turkey Point and moving north, the vegetation along the eastern shore seemed to be more or less continuous all the way up to White Point and into the Northeast River. From White Point, we went around Carpenter Point to look at Furnace Bay. Looking in from Stump Point, Furnace Bay appeared to be 100% vegetated with hydrilla- with vegetation visible on the surface despite being several hours away from low tide. Vegetation was visible far back in Mill Creek and as far as we could see into Furnace Bay itself. Approaching the bed, far from shore, milfoil clumps were scattered throughout the 5' depth. As the boat came into the bed, we saw that near the mouth there was actually very little hydrilla. The bed was mostly wild celery and water stargrass, with some coontail, spiny naiad, and hydrilla in patches. It was incredibly dense, and bare sediment could be seen in very few spots. The water inside this bed was extremely clear. As we penetrated deeper into the bed, far back into Mill Creek, hydrilla became the dominant species- forming a thick mat that reached to within a foot of the surface. We moved slowly through the grass beds all around this area, watching feeding waterfowl, massive schools of minnows, big largemouth bass, and all the things one grows accustomed to seeing in SAV beds. It was a great way to end the day. In summary, I think that the Flats SAV beds didn't suffer greatly from the rainfall events of late June and early July of this year. With the exception of the loss of density in the northernmost portion of the bed, every location I visited looked as good or better than in 2005. Capt. Mike reported that the water has been clearing slowly but steadily ever since the storm, and he predicted that in a week or so the water would be extremely clear- similar to last year (unless we get another big storm). Developmentally, the water stargrass has begun to flower in many areas, and we even saw a few wild celery flowers reaching the surface. I took a few pictures, but of course you can't really detail the changes I'm talking about with a camera, so they are not very exciting if you have ever seen SAV before...

08/11/06 Peter Bergstrom, NOAA

Magothy River (Quads 023, 024)

I looked for SAV in the upper Magothy via kayak on Tues 8-8-06, with John Kuriawa and Sophia Kim. We looked during a falling tide to allow us to get farther up the upper tidal reaches of Old Man Creek and the upper Magothy. We found the following (see map).


* no dark false mussels seen except in one creek

* less or none of the SAV species usually found in lower salinity years, except wild celery is doing well

* more of the SAV species that usually does well in higher salinities (sago pondweed or Ppc)

* some of the redhead grass beds upriver of Henderson Point that appeared and then died back in 2005 are back in 2006 and may persist with enough density to be mapped in the 2006 aerial survey

* redhead grass with widgeongrass on South Ferry Point and in Swan Cove are doing well with some increases in density and extent since last year

* wild celery planted in late June was doing well; redhead grass planted nearby in 2002-2003 appears to be gone, after doing well for 1-2 years, but there are redhead plants nearby that probably started from seeds produced by those beds


1. No dark false mussels (DFM) were seen (except I have seen them earlier this summer at low tide on pilings in Old Man Creek, where I keep my kayaks). Last summer I found DFM as far upriver as Beachwood Forest, upriver of Riverdale, and in 2004 I found them almost to the upper tidal limit of the Magothy on a floating pier.

2. Upper Old Man Creek and the upper Magothy had less SAV than in past years, probably due to higher salinity this year. There were much smaller patches of Callitriche (Cl) in Old Man Creek this year compared to recent years, and less sago pondweed (Ppc) there as well. The upper Magothy had almost no SAV, one shoot of Ludwigia, compared to large, dense beds of Callitriche, Potamogeton epihydrus (Pe), and some Ludwigia at the same spot in 2004; I did not check it in 2005. All of these (except Ppc) are freshwater species that usually are only seen in tidal waters during high flow/low salinity years, so I did not expect to see many of them after the low flow this spring.

3. The Magothy mainstem between Riverdale and Steedmans Point (just upriver of Swan Cove) had much less SAV than I found there last July. This year we found only a few shoots of milfoil (Ms) and one of slender pondweed (Ppu), with a few small, sparse patches of redhead grass (Ppf) between Old Man Creek and Steedmans Point, while on 7/12/05 we found a few small (6-8' across) but dense patches of redhead grass in the shallows upriver of Old Man Creek, and some widgeongrass (Rm), and several patches of redhead grass between Old Man and Cockey creeks. These patches were all gone later in the summer, on 8/26/05. See the map attached to last year's report on 9/14/05 for comparison ( We did not find any of the Elodea (Ec) that we found in one cove in this reach last year, as expected due to the high salinity this spring.

4. Now the good news starts! The wild celery (Va) that we planted at the Grachur Club on 6/29/06 (just downriver of Cockey Creek) was doing well with about 50% of the exclosure covered by healthy shoots, about the same or a bit more than what was there when we planted. Salinity was 5 ppt, a good range for this species. A few shoots had been uprooted, possibly by rays, and we replanted them.

5. There was no trace of the redhead grass we planted a bit farther downriver in 2002-2003, but the new beds of redhead we found nearby last year were still present this year (100 and 101 on the map), so I think the seeds from the beds we planted spread to these nearby areas. It may be that newly planted redhead beds only have enough stored energy to survive for 1-2 years (about how long the original 2002-03 beds lasted) unless the water clarity, sediments, wave energy, and other conditions are adequate to allow them to store more energy. In other words, there appears to be an intermediate range of conditions that are adequate to allow short-term, but not long-term survival of planted SAV beds, where long-term (at least for redhead grass) means 3 years or more from the planting date.

6. More good news: the cove just upriver of Henderson Point on the south shore had much denser and larger SAV beds than last year, mostly Ppf with some Rm and a few shoots of Ppu. Last year this bed was sparser and died back before the aerial photos were taken in September, so none of it was mapped except a small bed right at Henderson Point, labeled D1 ( This year I'm hopeful the beds in this cove will last long enough to show up in the aerial survey. I don't think any SAV has been mapped in this cove since 1978 (see 1978 map with the beds in this cove circled).

7. We found no SAV on the shore just south of Henderson Point, where a sparse bed was mapped last year (E1) and we found sparse Ppf and Rm in early September 2005.

8. We found very dense beds of Ppf and Rm with some Ppc and Va growing to the surface on South Ferry Point, extending out to water at least 1.5 m deep at low tide. See photo showing flat water over the tall beds and rough water outside them. These beds seemed much more consistently dense than they were last September, although they were classified as density 4 last year, and included some of the densest redhead grass beds I have ever seen on the Magothy (rivaling the density found in the bed outside Asquith Creek on the Severn). At one spot the beds were so dense that my kayak stopped after I had drifted under a pier. There appeared to be more sago pondweed than last year, as expected due to the higher salinity this spring. As usual, we found wild celery towards the eastern side of the point, and even though we had a drought this spring, the plants were robust (see photo). Usually the Va at South Ferry Pt. is present but stunted and tinged with brown in years with high salinity such as 2002 (when salinity nearby was 11 ppt), although salinity here on 8/8 was 5 ppt, an excellent range for wild celery. Steve Ailstock found wild celery near this same spot in the mid to late 1980's so the beds appear to have persisted here for at least 20 years.

9. We found the density and extent of redhead grass were about the same as last year at North Ferry Pt. and in the eastern end of Swan Cove, where a dense bed was mapped last year (EA4). We found one clump of wild celery (Va) here; I also found a clump in this cove in 2002 ( We did not have time to ground truth the rest of Swan Cove, but I'll try to get to it in a few weeks.

08/16/06 Terry Willis

Chester River (Quad 026)

On August 14 Hail Creek on Eastern Neck was surveyed from Cedar point at lat 39-00'-33.2"N/long 076-12'-35.8"W going up the left side of the creek, around the head, and down the opposite shore to a point of lat 39-01'-08.3"N/long 076-12'-26.4"W. While there was SAV present, it was mostly confined to two small areas. One was just inside the entrance of the creek at lat 39-00'-40.5"N/long 076-12'-40.1"W, where there was a mixture of redhead grass with small amounts of wigeon grass. The second area was at the head of the creek at lat 39-01'-20.7"N/long 076-12'-31.5"W, where there were patches of wigeon grass. In both areas the grass was hugging the shoreline. Aerial extent in both cases appeared to be in the 1-2 acre range. This is much less than was found in the same area in 2005. Secchi depths were less than ~ .3 m and salinity was 9.5 ppt.

08/23/06 Peter Bergstrom, NOAA

Spa Creek, Severn River (Quad 031)

On 8/15/06 I kayaked about 3.5 miles round trip up Spa Creek off the Severn River in Annapolis to see if I could find any SAV. See map of my route in yellow. I did not find any SAV.

In 1999 I found some horned pondweed in its upper coves, and others reported it lower in the creek in 1994 and 1997, but this was too late in the summer for that species.


Lower Magothy River (Quad 024)

On 8/17/06 I kayaked about 8 miles along the north shore of the lower Magothy, from Dobbins & Little Islands upriver to the start of Magothy Narrows. I used a sit-on-top kayak that we carried to the area on the stern of the 27-foot Boston Whaler In Situ that we use to do benthic mapping in shallow waters; this worked well. I found SAV growing out to about 1 m deep, which agreed pretty well with the depth at which the side scan sonar on the In Situ showed SAV beds.

In general there seemed to be a bit less SAV than what was mapped in this area than last year, and probably less widgeongrass. The map shows a few specific areas circled in blue, that had mapped beds in 2005 but no SAV that I could find on 8/17. Two of these were just outside Grays Creek, and two were covers along the shore of Hunters Harbor. One of the 3 coves along that shore still had dense SAV, as it did last year, mixed Ec (Elodea) and Ms (milfoil). It is very shallow and has not been dredged for boat access. The other 2 coves which lacked SAV this year are deeper because they were dredged for boat access. Perhaps their greater depth allowed more of higher salinity water to enter during the spring drought, which would tend to cause Elodea and milfoil to die back.

The species I found were Ppf (redhead grass), Ec (Elodea, probably E. nuttallii), Ms (milfoil), Ppc (sago pondweed), Rm (widgeongrass) and one site with Ppu (slender pondweed). As usual, the only area I visited that had all of these species in the same place was lower Cornfield Creek. Most of the other beds were a mixture of Ppf and Rm. Ppf seemed to predominate in most of them, while in the past, some of the beds in this area were mostly Rm. In wet years in the Magothy we tend to see more Ec, and in dry years more Ppc, but this year I found moderate amounts of both species. The rainfall this year has been so variable, it will be hard to classify this as a wet or dry year. I did not find any of another lower salinity species, wild celery (Va), which I have found both in Cornfield Creek and Magothy Narrows in the past, but its beds are small and easy to miss. I found it this year on 8/8 at South Ferry Point and in Swan Cove where it was doing well.


Lower Weems Creek, Severn River (Quads 024 & 030)

On 8/18/06 I kayaked the lower portion of Weems Creek, launching at Tucker St. My main goal was to check a small redhead grass planting that Corinne Irwin and I organized, with help from John Rodenhausen at CBF, near the mouth of the creek in June 2003. See map for my route.

I was pleased to find that the rectangle that we planted in 2003 still had about 25% cover of short Ppf, visible only with a view scope. There had been a little spread outside the exclosure, but it's hard to tell if the redhead was from what we planted, since there are redhead beds on the mainstem of the Severn outside the creek. Three years is the longest survival I've had to date of small redhead planting projects that I supervised; the redhead we planted on the Magothy in 2002 tied this record, surviving until last year (2005) but gone this year.

Weems Creek has never had any beds mapped inside the creek to my knowledge, and the SAV in the lower creek remains sparse, short and shallow this year. Some of the lower portions of this creek have a steep bottom slope that precludes much SAV growth unless the water were much clearer. I was surprised & pleased to find dense and bright green Elodea (Ec) in one cove, at Waypoint 195 (see photo). I found it only by raking next to the other SAV (Ms) because it was prostrate, just as Ec often is in the Magothy. Like the slender pondweed (Ppu) that I found in Saltworks Creek on 6/22/06, this appears to be the first record of Elodea in the Severn. At Waypoint 196 I found a curved breakwater on a point that looked like it may have been built to encourage SAV growth (see photo), but I could find no SAV in it, although the depths and sediments appeared to be suitable for SAV. A citizen reported Ppf, Ms, Rm, and Zp in the same area as my waypoints 194-197 in 2002 on Quad 30.

08/23/06 Herman Heinlein

Harris Creek (Choptank River) (Quad 036 , 043)

I am a resident of McDaniel MD, living in the community of Mallard Point which is located on the northeast branch of Harris Creek. This spring and summer I have spent a lot of time observing the SAV growing in Harris Creek. I have lived in this area since 1983 and can not remember the grass being as plentiful as I have seen this year. However the extreme heat that occurred in July has killed off almost all the grass, the only beds I could find as of 8-18-2006 were located across from Sherwood, MD map 036. I don't know when the aerial photos are taken of this area but if it is after the end of July you will have missed the grass which was so plentiful this past spring and early summer. One additional item - the SAV growing at the old ferry dock located in the town of Claiborne, MD and one large SAV bed growing near the town of Whitman, MD on the bay side seem to have survived this heat.

08/24/06 Laura Murray, UMCES

Choptank River (Quads 043, 044)

I am sad to report that the SAV in Broad Creek off the Choptank River is greatly reduced from previous years. Most of the Ruppia maritima is gone from our two sampling areas. However, we have observed large beds of Stuckenia pectinata at the mouth of Broad Creek and Ruppia maritima along the north bank of the Choptank between Broad Creek and Irish Creek. It seems that at least in parts of the Choptank River that the summer rains have affected the SAV beds, contrary to the article in the Easton paper where Mike Naylor reported the wonderful beds in the upper Bay. A quick look at the chlorophyll levels etc. in the Choptank ( indicated large algal blooms in various areas of the Choptank. Perhaps there are different conditions here which have lead to the reduction of SAV in this area? It is reassuring that at least in some areas, the grasses are doing well.

08/25/06 Tom Parham, MD-DNR

Choptank River to the Susquehanna Flats (Quads 003, 004, 005, 009, 010, 011, 016, 017, 021, 022, 026, 027, 032, 033, 037, 038, 044, 045, 158, 193)

On Wednesday 8/16/06, I chartered a small plane to fly the upper bay from the Choptank River to the Susquehanna Flats to look for any SAV impacts from the heavy rains in late June. The upper bay was turbid for nearly a month so this trip was scheduled to occur once satellite photos identified clear water in the upper bay.

Mark Trice brought his laptop with a GPS and the DATAFLOW tracking/logging software to help navigate and take pictures. Prior to flight he loaded the 2005 SAV aerial survey data allowing us to see our position in relation to the 2005 SAV bed locations.

You can view the story: Investigations of Impacts to SAV from June 2006 Rains, which contains detailed SAV bed conditions, selected photographs taken during our trip with the flight path and ground observations of the Flats from Mike Naylor, on our Eyes on the Bay Monitoring Stories Webpage:

08/28/06 Peter Bergstrom, NOAA

Magothy River (Quads 023, 024)

Thursday, 8/24/06, lower Magothy

I took prints of the 8-5-06 aerial photos that I got from Bob and checked some spots that looked like they might have SAV on the lower Magothy last Thursday, 8/24/06. I went in the boat of local volunteer Dave Lines, who was taking notes of fishing and crabbing spots he might try later.

North shore (see map) Some spots where little grass was visible in the aerial photos had Ppf almost all the way around (Park Creek), while Broad Creek had only one tiny patch of Ppf with a bit of Rm (wpt 209), even though I thought I saw likely dark patches elsewhere in the creek. We checked the upper end of "North" Grays Creek (it's actually the eastern arm, but the bog upstream of it is called North Grays Bog), and found that the SAV I saw at the Sylvan View marina last year was considerably reduced this year (wpt 219) compared to 2004. We found sparse short & shallow Ppf and Ms this year, whereas on 7/10/04 there were dense beds of Ppu (slender pondweed) in the marina, with Rm & Ms (see This year we found dense beds just upstream of the marina (wpts 220 & 221) with Ppf, Ppu and Ms, which I did not check in 2004 because I did not have a boat. These beds had some of the densest beds of Ppu that I've seen; one wonders if Ppu shoots came to the marina on a boat that had traveled up the Bay to where Ppu is more common, and then spread up the creek from there. The beds up from the marina were not there in 2004 but were present in 2005 (, bed KB2), based on the aerial survey. We did not have time to check the "south" arm of Grays Creek, which also appeared to have SAV in the 2006 photos.

South shore (see map) Working east along the south shore, the extensive shoal off Ulmstead Point had some sparse beds of Ppc with a bit of Rm and Ppf (wpts 210 & 211), as it usually does in years with higher salinity. Scheide's Cove, which has an amazingly narrow but deep entrance, had a few small and shallow beds of Ppc, Ppf and Rm off two marshes (wpts 212 & 213). The surprisingly indistinct SAV signatures in the Stonington bed on the south shore (wpt 215) were apparently because the SAV was shorter, and the bed narrower, than it was in past years. A new pier was being built right through the SAV bed--I wonder how it got permits! (see detail of aerial photo, and photo of pier construction) Lake Placid had no SAV; I 've only found grasses in there a few times since 1995. The much darker signatures in the aerial photo at the mouth of Deep Creek turned out to be much denser and taller beds of mostly Ppf (wpts 216 & 217), compared to the beds off Stonington. It was the only time that day that the prop on our boat got clogged with SAV.

Saturday 8/26/06

Upper Magothy/Cockey Creek (see map) The small beds of Ppf that we found between Old Man and Cockey creeks on 8-8-06 has mostly died back. All I could find where there had been a moderately healthy Ppf bed on 8-8 was a few very sickly strands of Ppf that had almost no leaves left (222). At a spot where we found a few shoots of Ms on 8/8, I could only find one sickly shoot of slender pondweed (Ppu). The wild celery (Va) that we planted at the mouth of Cockey Creek in late June was still present and green, but it was a bit more sparse than it was on 8/8. A kayak survey of all of Cockey Creek found no SAV at all, including spots that had fairly dense beds of Ppf last year (see map for their former extent up the creek). A small bed of Ppf that I found downriver from Old Man Creek on 9/1/05 also seemed to be gone this year (see map).

08/30/06 Chris Tanner, St. Mary's College

St. Mary's River, Webster Field (Quad 080)

Went out to Webster Field to check the SAV beds that stood out in the aerial photo. I've marked the areas checked on slide 2 of the PPT presentation. In both areas all I found was widgeon grass. The vegetative shoots lacked the bayonet found in sago and there were some typical Ruppia male flowers.

Slide 1 is of eelgrass in the WWB plots at Piney Point. Most of the plots have defoliated, but some still have short, healthy shoots. As the water temperatures are cooling down, I think some of these will survive.

09/11/06 Terry Willis

Chester River (Quad 026)

A group from the Chester River Association looked for SAV in the Corsica on Friday, 9/8/06. They reportedly searched the north shore from Green Point (N 3904.150'/W 7605.150') to a point they term the "mouth" of the river (N 3904.956'/W 7607.733') and found no SAV present. They particularly searched the areas where SAV was present last season.

09/17/06 Terry Willis

Chester River (Quad 026)

On September 17 the mouth of the Corsica (north side) was surveyed from a point on the Chester at lat n39-05'-51.4"/long w076-08'-17.9" to a point on the Corsica at lat N 39-05'-02.4"/long W076-08'-01.7". No SAV was seen, either attached to the bottom, floating on the surface, or washed up on what shore there is here. None could be raked up. The bottom here is very hard, and inside the mouth of the Corsica there is extensive rip rap extending out from the shore line with partially submerged groins that are perpendicular to the shore line. Water clarity by secchi disk was in the 1-1.1 m range in many places along the track. The track was done at two distances from shore over much of the range-at a depth of 3-4 feet (20-30 feet off the shore line) and at a line about 50' outside of that over much of the range.

09/27/06 Terry Willis

Chester River (Quad 026)

On Sept. 25, 2006 with an assist from the Chester River Keeper the following areas were surveyed:

Robin Cove lat N39-04'26.9"/long W076-09'03.3" to lat N39-04'13.5"/long W076-08'48.2" This cove is covered between the above points with eurasian millfoil that extends out from the north shore from the western most surveyed point to an extent of 50-75 feet, then quickly expands to cover the entire breadth of the cove (northern shore to southern shore) to the easternmost surveyed point. Mixed in with the millfoil are small pockets of redhead grass near the center of the track along with some very small amounts of elodea. Near the head of the cove (the easternmost point above) there is approximately a 60/40% mixture of millfoil/wigeon grass. Secchi depths in the cove were ~ 1.25 m or more. There is the remnant of a flow control structure across the mouth of this cove that limits wave action from the Chester River, and there is a similar remnant about 3/4 of the distance into the cove. Estimated total coverage 4-6 acres.

Grove Creek and Reed Creek The upper region of Gove Creek was surveyed around a point at lat N39-03'18.2"/long W076-08'58.5"and no SAV was found, either in the water, floating or on the beaches. No SAV was found on the way in to this point. Reed Creek was surveyed around a point at lat N39-02'52.7"/long 076-09'42.8". No SAV was seen, either in the water, floating or on the beaches. No SAV was seen on the way in to this point. Secchi depth ~ .6 m.

10/06/06 Peter Bergstrom, NOAA

Breton and St. Clements bays (Quads 069, 078)

Local volunteer Pete Worch and I checked SAV on Breton and St. Clements Bays in his boat on 9-27-06. Salinity was 13 ppt and Secchi depth was 1.1 meters at his dock, where we also planted SAV in 2002 (see map). Pete's boat could not get into the shallows so I jumped in and waded the shallows where I thought there would be SAV.

In general we found less SAV than was mapped there last year. We only found short form widgeon grass (Rm), and it was pretty patchy in most of the places where I found it. It was clearly visible from the surface in most locations, except where wind and waves had stirred up the bottom and made the water too cloudy. Most of the plants extended only to water 0.6-0.7 m deep at low tide, and none had flowers or seeds.

A resident living near waypoint 238 on the W side of lower St. Clements Bay told me that the grasses at that spot were much thicker last year--thick enough to be hard to walk through. That bed had 28 mute swans feeding on it when we approached.

Based on Bob Lewis' observation from June 2006, some of the widgeon grass beds in Breton Bay were also much denser earlier this year. The spot where he found "choking widgeon" in June 2006 (the 2004 planting site) had only sparse patches of short form Rm on 9/27.

We found no SAV at the sites where we planted redhead grass in 2002, 2003 and 2004. However, some of the 2004 plants had been there earlier this summer. Bob Lewis checked the McAllister planting done in 2004 last year and earlier this year, and wrote: "I found Redhead grass there last June 2006 - but only a few sprigs amongst a choking amount of Widgeon. The fall before [2005], I found a good deal of Redhead and it had spread to a new one-meter patch some distance away."

The map shows where we found short form Rm (numbered waypoints), and the 3 past planting sites that we checked and found no plants.

10/09/06 Bob Orth, VIMS

SAV update

The 2006 SAV season is winding down, but from what we at VIMS and a few others around the bay have been observing it appears to be shaping up as quite an interesting year based on both field and aerial observations. A number of meteorological events in 2006 appeared to have had some effect on SAV populations: a very dry spring driving salinities way up, the 'big' June rain event, a very hot July, and then the surprise visit of Ernesto.

Here is what has been happening since my last update in July. Please note that there have been quite a few, very detailed field observations reported to us at VIMS and these have been posted on our web site: Once again, thanks to Peter Bergstrom, Terry Willis, Mike Naylor and other DNR staff, and staff from Hart-Miller Island for some very detailed field observations over the last few months!

This report covers photography from the Virginia tributaries (James, Pamunkey, Mattaponi, Piankatank), most (but not all) of the Potomac River, Patuxent, West, Rhode, South, Severn Magothy, Patapsco, Back and Middle rivers, Little Choptank and Choptank rivers, Eastern Bay, Chester River, Elk, Bohemia, Sassafras and Susquehanna rivers, and the upper 2/3 of the main Susquehanna Flats.

Here is a brief summary of what we have observed:

1. SAV was abundant in the VA tribs, but there is essentially no SAV in the mainstem of the James. SAV beds are now dominated by hydrilla in these other systems. The big question is will hydrilla find it's way into the upper James (I think it will it's just a matter of time!)

2. SAV appears to be doing quite well in some areas of the Potomac, notably the St. Mary's River, Breton and St Clements Bay, Nanjemoy Creek, Aquia Creek (this river had SAV everywhere!) and the mainstem sections of the region just above and across from Aquia Creek. However, there is almost no SAV in the VA section from the 301 bridge south to the mouth and it appears that some of the SAV in the areas of Cobb Island and adjoining reaches are either gone or reduced from last year (salinity effects?).

3. SAV appeared to be doing well in the upper Patuxent, Severn, and Magothy rivers, but little or none was noted in the South and Patapsco rivers (many of the dense beds noted in the Patapsco in 2005 were gone).

4. Very little SAV was noted in the Little Choptank River, but SAV has rebounded in the Brannock Bay area this year.

5. Almost no SAV was noted in the northern creeks of the Choptank (Harris, Broad and Tred Avon), which appeared to have died out in this year's July heat. But surprisingly, robust populations of SAV were noted on the south shore in Cook Point Cove and at the mouth of Chapel Creek, so go figure this one! (remember we are dealing with widgeongrass)

6. Very little SAV was noted in the Eastern Bay area except for Crab Alley Bay and Marshy Creek.

7. Recovering SAV populations in the Chester River, especially around Eastern Neck Island noted in 2005 are pretty much gone (we had suggested this may happen based on the spring salinity levels).

8. SAV in the Elk River looked fantastic!

9. While SAV was abundant in both the Bohemia and Sassafras rivers, there has been some reduction from 2005 levels.

10. SAV along the flanks of the Susquehanna River from the dam to Havre de Grace looked really good.

11. SAV was very thick in Furnace Bay (always seems to be a hot spot for SAV!)

12. And lastly, SAV in the northern part of the Flats appeared dense and similar to what we had seen in 2005. This was an area we were all watching very closely following the big rain event in June and it appears SAV here has managed to persist. It's possible that the fact SAV was already quite robust when those rains hit that could have made a big difference.


JAMES RIVER MAINSTEM (CB Segments JMSTF, APPTF, CHKOH) (Flight lines 154A, B, 158A, B, 159A, B, 164; flown Sept. 26; Quads 125, 126, 135, 136, 204 and 207) - SAV is absent along the mainstem James from below the mouth of the Chickahominy River to Richmond. However, we have again noted SAV in several creeks but primarily further upstream in each of these small creeks, e.g. Grays Creek, Herring Creek, Powell Creek, Upper Chippokes Creek, Wards Creek. We have not made any field observations in these creeks but most likely the species are coontail and najaids.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER (CB Segment CHKOH) (Flight lines 155 and 165; flown Sept. 26; Quads 127, 128, 210) - The Chickahominy River continues to hold most of the SAV in this region of the Bay. Most beds are now dominated by hydrilla, although field observations by VIMS staff have reported both Najaids and coontail in some places.

PAMUNKEY RIVER (CB Segments PMKOH, PMKTF) (Flight lines 151 and 152; flown Sept. 26; Quads 228 and 229) - SAV is present and very dense from a mile or so below 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 and has been generally increasing in the lower areas of this section of the river. Field observations by VIMS staff have reported most beds being dominated by hydrilla but have also found coontail.

MATTAPONI RIVER (CB Segments MPNOH, MPNTF) (Flight lines 148 and 149, flown Sept. 26) (Quads 225, 226) - SAV beds are dense primarily in the stretch along the Whitehall area (similar to previous years) and are nestled within and between much of the emergent vegetation. Field observations by VIMS staff have reported most beds being dominated by hydrilla but have also found coontail, wild celery, and elodea

UPPER PIANKATANK RIVER (CB Segment PIAMH) (Flight line 90A: flown Aug. 14; Quad 116) - SAV has appeared in the upper tidal low salinity areas in the last few years and these beds are quite dense. The total area is not large but their presence is certainly notable. Field observations by VIMS staff have found coontail, and najaid species.

POTOMAC RIVER - ST. MARYS RIVER AND ST. GEORGE CREEK (CB Segment POTMH) (Flight lines 68, 69; flown Aug. 22; Quads 080, 089) - SAV abundance continues to be very impressive! SAV, which is predominantly 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. Distribution and abundance appears to be similar to 2005.

POTOMAC RIVER - HERRING CREEK (CB Segment POTMH) (Flight lines 68; flown Aug. 22; Quad 079) - SAV beds are absent here this year.

POTOMAC RIVER - SOUTH OF BRETON BAY ON THE MAINSTEM POTOMAC RIVER (CB Segment POTMH) (Flight lines 68, 71; flown Aug. 21, 22) (Quad 078) - There continues to be an impressive amount of SAV just south of Breton Bay along the mainstem for almost two miles down to White Point Beach. The distribution of this bed is similar to last year and is undoubtedly widgeongrass.

POTOMAC RIVER - BRETON BAY (CB Segment POTMH) (Flight lines 68, 70; flown Aug. 21, 22; Quads 069, 078) - moderately patchy to dense SAV beds are present this year and appear to be similar to what was observed in 2005. SAV has been persistent in this system over the last few years and is dominated by widgeongrass. Peter Bergstrom has just visited this area and has posted his observations on our site. He noted that much of the widgeon was the short form (non-reproductive), which explains the type of signature we see on the photography.

POTOMAC RIVER - ST. CLEMENT BAY (CB Segment POTMH) (Flight lines 68, 72; flown Aug. 21, 22; Quads 069, 078) - 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 are dominated by widgeongrass (as noted by Peter Bergstom).

POTOMAC RIVER - WICOMICO RIVER (CB Segment POTMH) (Flight lines 72, 73, 74, 74A; flown Aug. 23; Quads 058, 067, 068, 162) - SAV is dense and more abundant at the head of the river in and adjacent to Allens Fresh Run. SAV beds are present in other sections of the river, but for the most part, much of the river remains unvegetated.

POTOMAC RIVER - COBB ISLAND AREA (CB Segment POTMH) (Flight lines 72, 73, flown Sept. 2; Quads 067, 068) - SAV is almost completely absent in this area compared to 2005 and SAV is also absent around Neale Sound, just above Cobb Island.

POTOMAC RIVER - CUCKHOLD AND PICCOWAXEN CREEKS AND ADJACENT AREAS (CB Segment POTMH) (Flight line 72; flown Aug. 23; Quad 067) - SAV is present but the overall abundance is less than in 2005. Most of the SAV is present at the upper reaches of these creeks.

POTOMAC RIVER - PORT TOBACCO RIVER (CB Segment POTOH) (Flight lines 119, 120, 121; flown Oct. 3; Quad 057) - SAV is present as a narrow fringe along both shorelines to the head of the river, similar to last year. SAV in Goose Creek is very dense.

POTOMAC RIVER - NANJEMOY CREEK (CB Segment POTOH) (Flight lines 119, 120; flown Sept. 2; Quads 056, 057) - SAV is very dense and abundant in this system especially in Hill Top Fork and Burgess Creek. Dense beds line the river to Blossum Point on the north side and Benny Gray Point on the south side but they are not as abundant in some areas as noted in 2005. There is apatchy SAV bed between Blossum Point and Upper Cedar Point on the mainstem but no observable SAV above this place all the way to Port Tobacco River. There are some SAV beds between Benny Gray Point and Maryland Point.

POTOMAC RIVER - POTOMAC AND AQUIA CREEKS (CB Segment POTOH) (Flight lines 121, 122; flown Oct. 3; Quads 047, 048, 055, 056, and 064) - There is some fringing SAV beds in Potomac Creek but nothing like what we have observed in previous years. However, Aquia Creek, immediately above Potomac Creek, is essentially covered with SAV from the mouth to the headwaters. Proceeding upriver along the mainstem, SAV is very dense from the mouth of Aquia Creek all the way to Quantico and into Quantico Creek.

POTOMAC RIVER - CHICAMUXEN AND MATTAWOMAN CREEKS (CB Segment, POTTF, POTOH, MATTF) (Flight lines 125; flown Oct.; Quads 047, 048, 055, 056, and 064) - SAV is extremely abundant and dense in these systems, as well as the mainstem shoreline of the Potomac above and below these creeks.

POTOMAC RIVER - OCCOQUAN BAY AND BELMONT BAY (CB segment POTTF) (Flight lines 126, 127, 128; flown Oct. 3; Quads 039, 048) - Occoquan Bay has little SAV, but interesting SAV is present behind several breakwaters which we noted last year. In Belmont Bay, SAV is abundant and very dense.

POTOMAC RIVER - NEABSCO AND POWELLS CREEKS (CB Segment POTOH) Flight lines 126; flown Oct. 3; Quad 047) - Both creeks appear to have dense and abundant SAV.

POTOMAC RIVER VIRGINIA SIDE FROM 301 BRIDGE TO THE MOUTH (CB Segments POTMH, POTOH) (Flight lines 76, 76A, 76B, 77, 78, 78A, 79, 80; flown Aug. 21, 22; Quads 057, 064, 065, 066, 067, 076, 077, 078, 087, 079, 080) - SAV beds are essentially absent along the Virginia side from the mouth of the river to the 301 bridge, even in Popes Creek just below Colonial Beach, which had abundant SAV in 2005. There are some patchy beds on the shoals above the 301 bridge heading towards Mathias Point which similar to what we have noted in 2005.

POTOMAC RIVER - COAN RIVER (CB Segment POTMH) (Flight lines 79, 80; flown Aug. 22; Quads 089, 097) - No SAV noted.

POTOMAC RIVER - YEOCOMICO RIVER (CB Segment POTMH) (Flight lines 79, 80; flown Aug. 22; Quad 088) - SAV beds are reduced from last year and are only present in a couple of locations.

PATUXENT RIVER (CB Segments PAXTF, PAXOH, PAXMH, and WBRTF) (Flight lines 62-65, flown Aug. 23, 24; Quads 041, 049, 059, 060, 061, 070, 071 and 159 ) - In the Upper tidal freshwater Patuxent, SAV continues to thrive on the narrow shoals first noted in 1994, although the overall abundance appears slightly less than what was noted in 2005. Almost no SAV is observable in the lower portions of this river.

RHODE AND WEST RIVERS (CB Segments RHDMH, WSTMH) (Flight line 58; flown Aug. 5; Quads 030, 035) - No SAV was noted this year.

SOUTH RIVER (CB Segment SEVMH) (Flight lines 57-59; flown Aug. 5; Quads 030, 031) - There is almost no SAV observable in this system. Field reports from Drew Koslow, the river shore keeper, have also noted little SAV.

SEVERN RIVER (CB Segment SEVMH) (Flight lines 55-58; flown Aug. 5; Quads 023, 024, 031) - SAV continues to be 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 Route 50 bridge.

MAGOTHY RIVER (CB Segment MAGMH) (Flight lines 55-57; flown Aug. 5; Quads 023, 024) - SAV in the Magothy River (home to Peter Bergstrom's numerous and detailed sightings), remain robust. The photography (we are going to refly the upper segments as there was a strange turbidity plume masking some of the SAV signals in the upper Magothy. SAV beds are present along the south shore from just east of the mouth of Deep Creek to Ulmsteads Point. 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, and from the mouth of Cornfield Creek to Grays Point.

PATAPSCO RIVER AND TRIBS (CB Segment PATMH) (Flight lines 52-53, flown Oct. 2 and 54-56, flown Aug. 5; Quads 012, 013, 018, 019, 024) - There are very few SAV beds in this section this year compared to last year. In Shallow Creek at the mouth of the Patapsco, (where Peter Bergstrom has conducted his transplanting), several smaller beds remain, primarily in the cove along the west side before you enter Shallow Creek. Some smaller beds are present but much less than in 2005 in Rock, Stony, Main, Back and Bodkin creeks. The dense beds reported in 2005 in Bear Creek appear to be absent this year. These beds and others in the Patapsco were reported to be dominated by milfoil.

BACK AND MIDDLE RIVERS AREAS (CB Segments BACOH, MIDOH) (Flight lines 48A, 49A, 51; flown Sept. 13; Quads 013, 014, 019) - There is no SAV in the Back River. SAV beds begin adjacent to Rocky Point Park and continue north into Browns Creek and into the Middle River, but SAV appears to be distinctly less in 2006. SAV is also in Seneca and Saltpeter creeks.

SUSQUEHANNA FLATS AREA (CB Segment CB1TF) (Flight lines 43, 44, 44A; flown Oct. 2; Quads 002, 003, 004) - NOTE - these lines only cover areas outside of the APG restricted area, which we have not flown as they only allow access on weekends. The main body of the Flats is surprisingly robust this year given the concerns expressed earlier regarding the rain event in June and the turbidity that persisted for a long period. The beds appear dense in many areas and grade to sparser areas as you move south. Beds appear again behind the 7 offshore breakwaters near "Camp Chesapeake" with patches noted north and south of these breakwaters. Dense beds are noted in Chara Cove. SAV is very dense in Furnace Bay. SAV is very dense along both shorelines of the Susquehanna River and around Garrett Island.

ELK AND BOHEMIA RIVERS (CB Segments ELKOH, BOHOH, C&DOH) (flight lines 40, 41; flown Oct. 2; Quads 004, 005, 010, 011) - SAV is really impressive in these two river systems! Beds cover almost all the shoal areas from the mouth to the top of the systems and are especially dense and abundant at the head of the Elk System. Some of the dense beds in the Bohemia noted in 2005 at the upper ends are reduced, though.

SASSAFRAS RIVER (CB Segment SASOH) (flight line 39; flown Oct. 2; Quads 009, 010, 011, 016, 017, 199) - SAV is present and abundant along the north shoreline from the mouth to Money Creek and along the south shoreline from the mouth to Turners Creek. SAV is present in Lloyd Creek but is not as abundant and dense as in past years. However, SAV beds are in general less abundant than in 2005.

MAINSTEM BAY FROM ROCK HALL TO SWAN CREEK (CB Segment CB3MH, CB2OH) (Flight lines 33-37; flown Oct. 2; Quads 021, 022, 026, 027, 193).

CHESTER RIVER, INCLUDING EASTERN NECK NARROWS AND THE CORSICA RIVER (CB Segments CB3MH, CHSMH, CHSOH) (Flight line 33; flown Oct. 2; Quads 015, 020, 021) - SAV beds are abundant in Huntingfield Creek and present in two coves in Haven Harbor. No SAV is observable in the Haven or Swan Creek. SAV is notably reduced from much of this system in 2006 from what was observed in 2005. We have gotten some very detailed field reports from Terry Willis (reports are on our web site) and his observations support what we are noting from the aerial flights. Recovering beds noted in 2005 along the Eastern Neck Island and Narrows area has been reduced significantly in 2006 and now is present in only some sparse beds. SAV is present in Church Creek, but primarily along the eastern shoreline but is also less than in 2005. Robins and Middle Quarter Coves around the mouth of the Corsica River are the only other locations with significant populations of SAV. No SAV was noted in the Corsica River and many of the beds noted in the upper Chester River above Chestertown are not observable.

LITTLE CHOPTANK RIVER AND ADJACENT BAYS AND COVES (CB Segment LCHMH) (flight lines 16, 16a, 17, 18; flown Sept. 26; Quads 051, 052, 062) - SAV is noticeably absent in much of the Little Choptank, an area where widgeongrass dominated. SAV has reappeared in Trippe Bay although it is not as abundant as we have observed in previous years.

CHOPTANK RIVER (CB Segments CHOMH1, CHOMH2, CHOOH) (Flight lines 22-26; flown Aug. 2; Quads 036, 037, 043, 044) - The most significant SAV beds are located beds in Cooks Point Cove, the mouth of Chapel Creek, a few areas in the Tred Avon River, Irish Creek, and lower portion of Broad Creek. All other areas that had abundant SAV (dominated by widgeongrass) including Harris Creek appear to be unvegetated. HPEL staff noted that much of this had died out this summer when it got extremely hot. This absence of SAV here is intriguing given the abundance of SAV along the south shore noted above!

EASTERN BAY AREA (CB Segment EASMH) (Flight lines 22-32; flown Aug. 5, 24; Quads 032, 033, 036, 037) - SAV is most abundant in the northern section of this region, with the most significant beds being in Marshy Creek and the coves along the north end of Kent Island. Other areas with significant amounts of SAV are in Crab Alley Bay and in Cox Creek. Much of the southern end of Eastern Bay, including the Miles and Wye rivers, do not have any SAV.

10/10/06 Peter Bergstrom, NOAA

Patapsco River (Quad 019)

I visited Shallow Creek with Steve Ailstock by canoe on Monday 10/09/06. Water was cloudy (0.4 m Secchi), possibly from the heavy rains and wind the previous Friday and Saturday, and water levels were still about 0.5 foot above normal due to that storm. Salinity was 7 ppt, which was probably not depressed much by the storm because the watershed is so small. Despite the murky water, we had no trouble seeing the dense patches of wild celery (Va), redhead grass (Ppf) and milfoil (Ms) because they were all growing to the surface.

This creek has two main areas of interest for SAV: one just inside a RR causeway that used to cross the mouth of the creek, where we planted SAV every year except 2002 from 1999-2003, and the outer cove just outside that RR causeway, where we planted SAV on a more limited scale in 1999-2000, partly because I found natural beds of Va there starting in 1998. The aerial photo from 10/2/06 is marked to show where we planted what and when. Our original planted clumps inside the RR causeway (still visible in 2005, see below) have all coalesced and spread towards the mouth of the creek. We also planted sago pondweed (Ppc) in 1999 and 2000, but none of it survived.

The photo and our field visit confirmed that the SAV beds in 2006 were much larger and denser than they were in 2005, and that Va and Ppf that we planted had persisted in both planting sites and spread to other parts of the creek (see map from 10/9/06). This photo shows dense Va around the one pole that is left from the 2003 DNR planting; there was some Ppf in this bed but not visible here. The SAV had spread into the shallows about as far as they could go, but were depth limited to about 0.6-0.7 m deep at low tide, as expected given the murky water.This was the first time I had found Ppf away from the places where we planted it, and Va (both natural and planted) had also spread into several new areas of the creek this year. Before this year, the rest of the creek had almost exclusively milfoil where it had SAV.

Finding Ppf this year was exciting because last year I thought the Ppf that we planted was gone (see below). We never found any natural Ppf in the creek before planting, and there are few beds of it in nearby creeks, so we're pretty sure that all of it came from our planting. Since there was some natural Va in the creek before we planted, we can't be sure how much of it was due to our efforts, but I've never seen flowers or seeds on the Va there. This means it may only spread vegetatively, which it could not do around the RR causeway from the natural beds in the outer cove. Since the last planting we did there was in 2003, it's possible that the plants survived only 3 years, but the extent of the plants inside the RR causeway suggest many of them have survived for 5 or 6 years. This is longer survival than any other small scale SAV planting I have done; the record elsewhere is 3 years for Ppf. As to why the planted Va & Ppf did so well in this creek, in spite of frequent low water clarity, I can think of two reasons. It seems to have a salinity range that allows both species to persist, which may be a key to long term survival. It is also an unusual creek, very shallow with a small watershed, right off the mainstem.

I last visited this creek on 9/22/05 when I found only Va inside the RR causeway, and it was short and barely visible with a view scope. I estimated only 25% cover of Va within the areas we planted, although the planted squares were visible in the VIMS photo taken on 9/13/05. (see detail photo and I thought the Ppf we planted there was all gone, but apparently it was just too short to see. I only found Ppf at one spot in the outer cove. Secchi depth was also 0.4 m and the salinity was a bit higher, 10 ppt. The Va was so short I could only see one patch of Va without the view scope, and in some places I felt for shoots by hand from my kayak, something I've rarely done anywhere else.

10/11/06 Justin Reel

Occoquan Bay (Quad 039, 048)

I recently (September 21, 2006) surveyed SAV along a small portion of the Occoquan Bay. I have been looking at the shoreline between Sandy and High points for the past few years to monitor SAV growth around two sets of offshore breakwaters. Similarly to last year, fairly dense (cover 3 to 4) SAV was found behind the breakwaters, and no SAV was observed offshore of the breakwaters. The SAV behind the breakwater set closest to High Point was dominated in places by Hydrilla, and in places by Vallisneria. N. minor, H. dubia, C. dermersum, and M. spicatum were also found behind this breakwater. In contrast to last year, between the breakwater set closest to High Point and the breakwater set closest to Sandy Point, I observed a sparse (cover 1) bed of V. americana and M. spicatum. The bed behind the breakwater set closest to Sandy Point was codominated by Hydrilla and N. minor and also included M. spicatum, C. dermersum, V. americana, and H. dubia. I observed a sparse bed (cover 1) extending northwest along the shoreline from the Sandy Point breakwater set which consisted of M. spicatum only.

11/21/06 Peter Bergstrom

Severn River (Quads 023, 030, 031)

Lower Weems Creek, Severn River

Today (11/21/06) I kayaked on lower Weems Creek, Severn River to look for Elodea that Nancy Rybicki requested to use for genetic analyses she is doing of the Elodea/Hydrilla group. I went to the site (waypoint195) where I found Elodea (Ec) in Weems Creek on 8/18/06, described here: (at "Lower Weems Creek"--WPT 195 on that day) The tide was very low and the water was quite clear today (why can't it be this low & clear in the summer??) and at first I could only see milfoil (Ms). However after looking more closely and raking I discovered that much of the shallows of the cove were covered with prostrate Elodea, hard to see under sediment and fallen leaves, but mostly still bright green. I collected about 1/2 gallon of shoots for Nancy's research.

In my report from August I attached a photo of the plants from that cove ( but I did not speculate on what species they might be (Elodea canadensis Ec or E. nuttallii En). Salinity was 11 ppt today, and it was 10 ppt on 8/18/06.. Based on the salinity, and the absence in the Severn of most low salinity SAV species except slender pondweed (Ppu) (I've never found wild celery there, for example), and the form of the plants compared to the drawings in Brown & Brown, I strongly suspect that these are E. nuttallii, since they tolerate higher salinity than Ec. If you have a copy of the new SAV guide from Sea Grant, the plants from Weems Creek (possible En) more closely resemble the middle of the three photos on the Waterweed pages (the one with the quarter that looks less bushy with more slender leaves), while the other two photos and the drawing on those pages more closely resemble the drawing of Ec in Brown & Brown (more bushy with wider leaves). I hope that Nancy's analyses will shed more light on this issue.