What is Eelgrass?

 Zostera Marina  (src  Ronald C. Phillips PhD., via Wikipedia:     https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zostera#/media/File:Eelgrass.jpg )

Zostera Marina

(src Ronald C. Phillips PhD., via Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zostera#/media/File:Eelgrass.jpg)

Marine Meadows Program Eelgrass 'Tortilla Disc' Making Workshop

 Eelgrass at Cornell Cooperative's Southold facility awaiting transplant that's been woven through the burlap 'tortilla disc'.

Eelgrass at Cornell Cooperative's Southold facility awaiting transplant that's been woven through the burlap 'tortilla disc'.

Eelgrass bag preparation

An eelgrass plant consists of a horizontal stem or rhizome that grows on or just below the surface of the sediment. Leaves originate from the stem with a 'runner' root under the surface of the sediment and sand.

Why do we need it?

As part of the CHRP project, eelgrass is a key component. It traps sediment and sand and provides habitat for wildlife.

What benefits does it provide?

Apart from being a layer in our multi-layer approach of preventing large-scale erosion of our coastline, eelgrass provides much needed habitat to many species (such as blue crabs, fluke, flounder, sea scallops, and seahorses), a grazing source of both the plants and its seeds (mute swans, canada goose, green turtles) as well as adding dissolved oxygen to the water (by way of photosynthesis) and extracting phosphorus & nitrogen (common contaminants from run-off and cesspool leaching) for use as nutrients.

How are we getting it?

Our partner Cornell runs their Marine Meadows program, which actively selects donor grass from areas where it doing well, organizes volunteer days to weave these donor grasses into burlap discs (tortilla method) for best planting and send their divers to designated restoration areas to plant these discs/“tortillas” underwater.

Why the donor grass & tortilla method?

Growing eelgrass in large-scale methods like beach grass is still experimental. This method is the best currently known method for producing grass for restoration in large numbers, sustainable with the most chance for grass survival and thriving in the restoration area.

How can I help?

One can participate in the Marine Meadows Program, run by our partner Cornell Cooperative of Suffolk County.

Also available is volunteering at the Coastal Habitat Restoration Project community engagement events. Contact us via our Project Volunteer Page to get notified of upcoming events and volunteer days.

For more Information about eelgrass:

http://seagrassli.org/