Volunteers for Coastal Waters Rapid Assessment Survey

The Search for Invasive Continues...
From July 23rd to 30th, the Massachusetts Bays Program and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sea Grant Program coordinated an international team of 20 scientists to conduct a “rapid assessment survey” in coastal waters stretching from Woods Hole through mid-coast Maine. The experts searched for invasive species — plants or animals not normally found in New England coastal waters whose introduction to the ecosystem can harm the environment, economy, and public health. The team collected, identified, and catalogued the plants and animals found on permanently floating docks and piers. The goals of the study are to develop a baseline inventory of species in the coastal waters, identify plants and animals that have been recently introduced into the ecosystem, and assist managers in preventing and controlling future invasions. Previous surveys conducted in 2000 and 2003 in New England coastal waters revealed 34 introduced organisms, several of which were identified for the first time in this region during these surveys. Many of the non-native species documented during the 2007 survey had been observed in the previous two, but this year did reveal the northward expansion of Grateloupia, a non-native red seaweed, into Cape Cod Bay and at a survey site in Boston. The significance of this new species isn't yet understood, but it may impact other native seaweeds.

Emerging Phragmites
The Eight Towns and the Bay committee and numerous partners continue their research into the growth of emergent stands of Phragmites, an invasive reed, in the upper Great Marsh in Newbury. The partners have been documenting the location of the stands using GPS, and have collected additional data including stem heights, stand dimensions, surrounding plant types, and stand density. A Great Marsh salt marsh team has begun to develop a management plan with strategies for Phragmites control and additional data collection. The team has started the permit process for a project to treat pilot sites this fall.

Wetlands Health Assessment Toolbox Volunteer testing wetlands water sample

What is the WHAT?
Since 1999, the Wetlands Health Assessment Toolbox (WHAT) has been combining the work of citizen volunteers with the expertise of coastal scientists to assess the health of Massachusetts Bays wetlands. Every year volunteers are trained by scientists to collect information at specific wetland sites on six indicators: land use, vegetation, tidal influence, macroinvertebrates, birds, and water chemistry. Combining this information gives scientists an overall picture of a wetland's health, expressed as a numeric score or ranking. Over 135 volunteers have been trained through this program to date, and in 2007 Salem Sound Coastwatch (SSCW) trained 16 more volunteers to monitor nektons and salinity at six salt marshes on the North Shore. SSCW was particularly active at Thissel Brook in Beverly, a site for potential stream and salt marsh restoration to improve water quality on nearby Patch Beach. Working with the Massachusetts Wetlands Restoration Program , SSCW used WHAT volunteers to begin to assess the health of Thissel Brook and to develop restoration scenarios for this degraded wetland. 

No Discharge Area for Cape Cod?
Our Cape Cod partner, the Association to Preserve Cape Cod (APCC), is working hard to further the designation of Cape Cod Bay as a No Discharge Area (NDA), an area of water where any discharge of boat sewage, whether treated or not, is prohibited. APCC is a member of the Cape Cod Bay No Discharge Area Working Group, which is chaired by the Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management Office (MCZM) . Other members of the Working Group include the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies , Town of Barnstable , and Nantucket Soundkeeper . The Working Group has already made presentations to the Boards of Selectmen in several Cape Cod Bay towns and will be working on helping towns to find funding for additional pumpout facilities. APCC has created a fact sheet, Powerpoint presentation, website, and other outreach materials to build public support for the designation, and this fall will begin preparing the NDA application on behalf of towns on Cape Cod Bay. Designation of Cape Cod Bay as an NDA is an important step towards improving and protecting water quality throughout the Bay.

Pervious in Pembroke
Pervious asphalt and pavers have been installed at the Oldham Pond boat ramp in Pembroke, with a geoblock parking area coming soon, as part of a 319 grant from the Mass. Department of Environmental Protection to demonstrate methods of stormwater control. The goal of the project is to improve water quality and enhance groundwater levels through the implementation of Low Impact Development (LID) techniques. LID is a design strategy that seeks to maintain or replicate the pre-development hydrology on a site. As part of the same project, our South Shore partner the North and South Rivers Watershed Association (NSWRA) , Town of Pembroke , Pembroke Watershed Association , and Comprehensive Environmental Inc. are retrofitting the Town Hall parking lot with pervious asphalt and other LID techniques such as raingardens to help improve water quality.

Storming Salem
Think Blue Massachusetts brought Stormy and the rest of the Think Blue stormwater education exhibit to the Salem Sound Coastwatch second annual Swim & Fin Oceanfest. The swimming race attracted 59 contestants while numerous local vendors and nonprofit organizations entertained the crowds. Next stop for Think Blue? The Boston Folk Festival on September 16!

Produced in September, 2007
Updated 1/03/08

Related Offices


The Massachusetts Bays National Estuary Program is a cooperative venture of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Commonwealth of Massachusetts - Deval L. Patrick, Governor
Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs - Maeve Vallely Bartlett, Secretary
Office of Coastal Zone Management - Bruce K. Carlisle, Director
Massachusetts Bays Program - Pamela A. DiBona, Executive Director