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Watershed Habitats – Underwater Meadows of Grass

A Habitat on a Blade of Grass

A single frond of eelgrass is a mini-habitat, a host for creatures large and microscopic that attach themselves to the blades.  Slipper shells, bay barnacles, sea slugs and snails, in countless numbers and varieties inhabit every acre where eelgrass thrives.  Many of these species have adapted coloring that camouflages them among the grasses.

The bottom dwellers
Those organisms that live in and on the bottom, make up the benthic community, a web of life that includes animals, plants and bacteria.  Some are on the surface like oysters and barnacles; some, like the blue crab spend part of their life swimming, part on the bottom, and in winter, burrowed in the mud.  Worms and clams live beneath the bottom sediments of the Bays in a community of tunnels, tubes and burrows.

Where has all the Eelgrass Gone? Loss of important Habitats
At one time the shallows of our Bays were gardens of eelgrass and other aquatic plants, productive places of infinite diversity.  But eelgrass beds are rare in our Inland Bays.   Run-off and erosion of silt off the land has smothered many areas where eelgrass once thrived, and careless boaters destroy these beds when they run aground.  Loss of habitat is one of the greatest threats to our bays and watershed

You Can Help
Use our bays gently, and support good public policy that keeps excess nitrogen and phosphorous out of the Bays.  These nutrients promote algae growth in the water column and that decreases the amount of sunlight that can reach the submerged aquatic vegetation on the bottom.