Bay Grasses Return to Antipoison Creek

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We have submerged aquatic vegetation growing off of both sides of our dock this year on Antipoison Creek for the first time in decades. This observed growth follows reports from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) that the acreage of submerged aquatic vegetation in 2015 Bay-wide significantly increased. Acting as a source of habitat for marine species, such as juvenile blue crabs (which we’ve also seen a lot of this year), it’s nice to see even a little improvement in SAV acreage in our local waters.

Using information from VIMS and the Chesapeake Bay Program, I think this specific grass is Ruppia maritima, commonly known as widgeon grass. While there are several species of submerged aquatic vegetation in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, widgeon grass and eelgrass are two of the most commonly found species, since they can tolerate a range of salinities. Widgeon grass, according to the Chesapeake Bay Program, typically grows in the slightly brackish to salty waters in the upper, middle and lower reaches of the mainstem of the Bay, but can also be found in freshwater tributaries.

I tried to take underwater photos but the water was too murky today for anything to turn out. However, I’ve included photos of the grasses from above, and a strand of the grass laid out to see what it looks like up close.

 

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