The abundance of bay grass in Chesapeake Bay has fluctuated
greatly in the past decade. The following is a brief synopsis of some
significant actions that have disturbed the growth of bay grasses.
- Eelgrass, the most widely distributed species in the bay, was nearly decimated by “wasting disease” in the early 1930’s.
- Despite significant increases in bay grass numbers by the 1940’s, introduction of exotic species such as
water chestnut and
Eurasian watermilfoil displaced many native bay
- Mute swans reproduced rapidly and began feeding on bay grasses after their
introduction in 1962.
- Tropical Storm Agnes (1972) caused widespread damage to bay grass beds.
- Large scale declines in submerged aquatic vegetation in the late 60’s and
early 70's due to increases in nutrients and sediments
to the bay.
- Tracking of bay grass populations by scientists began in 1978.
- In 2001, bay grasses reached the highest numbers, an estimated 85,252 acres, since tracking began in 1978.
- Bay grass coverage was estimated to be approximately 64,709 acres in 2003.
- Baywide acreage increased 14% to 72,935 acres in 2004.
NOTE: Scales on graphs are different
View Maryland’s Tributary Specific Bay grass coverage and
Habitat Status (1984-2008)
View Baywide Yearly SAV Monitoring Project Reports at Virginia Institute of
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Bay Grass Coverage and Habitat Status