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Bay Grass Coverage and Habitat Status

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 grasses.

  • 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.

Bay Grass Coverage Data

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a graph showing the baywide bay grass coverage from 1984 to 2009             a graph showing the Maryland bay grass coverage from 1984 to 2009

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 Marine Science
1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006


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