Eelgrass (Zostera marina) is a seagrass that grows in shallow, coastal waters. It makes important nursery habitat for different marine species. Our eelgrass team restores eelgrass in coastal areas of Massachusetts! They also monitor eelgrass for health and growth. We provide expertise and leadership in issues related to eelgrass.
Long-term Monitoring of Eelgrass
Monitoring eelgrass habitat is important. Monitoring helps us learn more about eelgrass, so we can respond to eelgrass-related issues. DMF is a partner in 2 seagrass monitoring programs—iSeaGrass and SeagrassNet.
iSeaGrass is a web app we made with MassBays. Citizen and professional scientists use it to collect data on seagrass. We have been a part of iSeaGrass since 2020. The app is used on a smartphone or tablet.
Interested in participating in iSeaGrass? To get involved with this coordinated effort, email Forest Schenck, or discuss with your local watershed organization or MassBays.
SeagrassNet is a global seagrass monitoring program. It currently monitors 126 sites in 33 countries. SeagrassNet helps preserve seagrass by increasing knowledge and awareness of this resource. We have been a part of SeagrassNet since 2008. The monitoring site in Salem Sound is one of 3 of these sites in Massachusetts (Duck Harbor Beach and Pleasant Bay are the others). In Salem Sound, our divers collect data on seagrass growth, coverage, disease, and invaders. We also monitor light level, temperature, and salinity. For more information regarding SeagrassNet, email Forest Schenck.
We use underwater cameras, depth finders, and side-scan sonar to map eelgrass. We look at how much the eelgrass changes each year to determine if losses or gains in eelgrass are long-lasting.
We restore eelgrass to damaged areas. Our eelgrass team replanted eelgrass in Salem Sound after the HubLine pipeline installation. They also replanted eelgrass in Boston Harbor 2004–2007. A second phase of restoration took place 2010–2012 to cover other areas in the Harbor Islands region.
Conservation Mooring Projects
Eelgrass has been declining in Massachusetts for many reasons. One big reason is boat moorings. Traditional block and chain moorings scar eelgrass beds as the chain drags along the ocean bottom when the attached boat moves. Seagrass-friendly moorings are available but are rarely used in Massachusetts. We are working with MassBays to test new seagrass-friendly moorings and monitor how well they protect seagrasses.
Standard Operating Procedures
- The Burlap Disc Method: planting and monitoring eelgrass (Zostera marina)
- Using the TERFS (Transplanting Eelgrass Remotely with Frames System) methods to plant eelgrass (Zostera marina)
- The Horizontal Rhizome Method: planting and monitoring eelgrass (Zostera marina)
- Monitoring eelgrass (Zostera marina) in a reference bed
- Monitoring eelgrass (Zostera marina) at SeagrassNet site Salem Sound MS 45.1
Gloucester, MA 01930