Maryland Coastal Bays

Seagrass Suffer Major Declines in 2015

Scallops in seagrass

Seagrass acreage decreased from 2014, with little to no bay grasses documented above Ocean City Inlet. Current acreage is 32% of the established goal. In 2001, seagrass acreage met 71% of the goal. The 2015 abundance is better than 2013 (the lowest seagrass acreage in 2 decades); however, elevated nutrients, high water temperatures, and prolific macroalgae (seaweeds) limited recovery.

Water temperatures in some areas exceeded the seagrass temperature threshold of 30oC (86oF) over 600 hours (nearly 25 days) during the 2015 growing season.

Sinepuxent seagrass acreage was equal to 2014, however Chincoteague Bay lost 1,000 acres. Overall, Chincoteague Bay has lost nearly 9,000 acres of seagrass since 2001 (55% of its 2001 acreage).

Seagrasses are critical fish habitat and support numerous species of juveniles.

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