Dark Spots on the Bay; A Hopeful Sign

Underwater grasses reach highest levels in three decades

(ANNAPOLIS, MD)—Kim Coble, vice president, Environmental Protection and Restoration, for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, issued this statement today following the release of annual aerial monitoring data of underwater grass abundance by the Chesapeake Bay Program. That data shows a 21 percent increase in grasses, and the highest totals in three decades.

This is another hopeful sign that the collaborative, regional effort to reduce pollution in the Bay and the rivers and streams that feed it is starting to pay off. The increase in grasses is likely explained, at least partially, by clearer, healthier water, and sunlight penetrating to stimulate grass growth.

Underwater grasses offer critical habitat for the creatures of the Bay. It is no coincidence the population of blue crabs also is rebounding. More underwater grass means more protection from predators for young crabs, and adult crabs shedding their soft shells.

These are positive signs of a still troubled ecosystem recovering slowly from decades of degradation from pollution. But we can't relax our efforts. The amount of underwater grass in the Bay is still only half of the goal which Bay states and the District of Columbia agreed upon in the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint."

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