According to a new study, the resurgence of aquatic grasses in Chesapeake Bay is the result of decades of efforts to reduce nutrient pollution.
This past September, underwater grasses began to appear off shore from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Chesapeake Biological Laboratory in southern Maryland. The marine research campus has occupied this peninsula in Solomons, where the Patuxent River flows to meet the Chesapeake Bay, since 1925. The grasses haven’t been seen here since 1972. Their comeback after 45 years signals a major positive shift in the health of the Chesapeake Bay.
“We’re very glad to report the largest resurgence of aquatic grasses due to management actions ever recorded, right here in Chesapeake Bay,” said co-author Bill Dennison, Vice President for Science Applications at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.
According to a new study, the resurgence of grasses here—and similar recent comebacks seen throughout out the estuary in recent years—are the direct result of decades of efforts to reduce nutrient pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. An analysis of more than 30 years of data shows that sustained management actions over the past two decades have reduced nutrient pollution in the Chesapeake by 23% since 1984 and have led to a resurgence of ecologically and economically important aquatic grasses. Underwater grasses, also known as submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV), have regained 17,000 hectares to achieve the highest cover in almost half a century.
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Image via University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science