Macroalgae Survey Results from
Ocean Pines and Ocean City Dead End Canals

Figure 1
Figure 1:  Canal near Shell Gut Point. No macroalgae was observed at this site.
In response to several calls from citizens concerned with an over-abundance of macroscopic algae in the Maryland Coastal Bays, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, between May 9th and May 15th, conducted several surveys in various areas of the Coastal Bays to visually assess the distribution and abundance of macroalgae. In general, the crews
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did not observe an excessive abundance of algae in most areas. The areas with the largest prevalence of algae were the canals North of Route 90 in Ocean Pines. Several canals in this area were observed. The survey showed that the canals with the most direct connection to the St. Martin's River had no macroalgae or small, sparsely distributed patches. Figure 1 shows the canal located just south of Shell Gut Point, between Teal Circle and Lookout Point.

The second site, located between Teal Circle and Ocean Parkway, showed some macroalage present, but not in large, spatially extensive patches (Figure 2). Figure 3 shows an example of the algal species that was present at this site, Enteromorpha spp. This species is a green algae that is common to coastal areas. A study conducted on the jetty at Ocean City in 1969, showed several species of Enteromorpha present. Based on these results, it is assumed that this species is not new to the Maryland Coastal Bays.
Figure 2
Figure 2:  Small patches of macroalgae were observed in the canal between Teal Circle and Ocean Parkway.

Figure 3
Figure 3:  Enteromorpha spp. was the species present in the canal off of Teal Court.

Figure 4
Figure 4:  The canal between Drawbridge Road and Portage Court showed more extensive algal distribution.
More abundant and spatially extensive macroalgae was found in the canals further inland, that are located a longer distance from the river proper. Figure 4 shows the extent of the distribution in the canal located adjacent to Portage Court and Drawbridge Road. The algae appeared to be extensively distributed in the shallows along the canal edges, with some small patches in the deeper mid-sections of the canals.

Though there were no quantitative measures recorded, qualitatively, these patches appeared to be more dense than those found in the canals nearer to the St. Martin=s River (Figure 5). Figure 6 shows the dominant species that was present, the green algae know as Cladophora spp. In scientific literature, this species has been identified as a possible shade tolerant species (more photosyntheticaly active). This may give this species a competitive edge over other species that require more light to photosynthesize. Figure 5
Figure 5:  Cladophora sp. extends from the bottom to the surface in the shallow areas of the canals

Figure 6
Figure 6:  The green algae Cladophora spp.
was dominant in the back canals.

Figure 7
Figure 7: A canal representative of those found in Ocean City, north of Route 90. There was little macroalgae visible in these canals.

The canals in the Ocean City area (between 94th and 140th streets) did not show any significant amounts of algae from the visual surveys that were conducted (Figure 7). Slight amounts of macroalgae were observed at the terminal end of the canal on 94th street, adjacent to the 94th Street Park and in the canals between Old Landing Road and Old Wharf Drive.  Figure 8 is representative of the abundance and distribution of the algae that was present in these
areas. The species found was predominately Cladophora spp.

Figure 8
Figure 8:  Macroalgae present in the Ocean City canals
was found in small localized areas.

There is no conclusive evidence that suggests that these species are harmful to the aquatic resources. In fact, during the surveys, biologist noted that there were many small fish and crabs inhabiting these algae beds. This would suggest that these area are suitable refuge for juvenile aquatic species.

If you have any questions about Maryland's Coastal Bays, 
please feel free to e-mail, Cathy Wazniak, or call (410) 260-8638.

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