What is Eelgrass?

An eelgrass plant consists of a horizontal stem or rhizome that grows on or just below the surface of sediment under a body of water, in our case Shinnecock Bay. As the shoot grows, the rhizome grows longer, moving through the sediment, with roots forming as it progresses.

Why do we need it?

Eelgrass is a core part of the Coastal Habitat Restoration Project as it traps sediment, sand and provides habitat for wildlife. Apart from a being a layer in our approach of preventing large-scale erosion of our coastline, eelgrass provides much needed habitat to many species such as blue crabs, fluke, sea scallops, and seahorses. This grass also provides a grazing source for canada goose, green turtles. Eelgrass also plays a role in adding dissolved oxygen to the water, extracting phosphorus and nitrogen for use as nutrients.

Planting and Seeding Eelgrass

Together with our partner Cornell Cooperative of Suffolk County, we are working to seed and plant more eelgrass in the project area. Cornell's Marine Meadows program organizes volunteer days to take a selection of 'donor' grass and weave them into burlap discs for planting. Additionally, a lantern bag seeding method (a portion of which is showcased in the video) is also used to seed the project area with eelgrass.

 An example of eelgrass meadows and their inhabitants. Credit: Bob Orth, Virginia Institute of Marine Science. Source: NOAA - https://www.flickr.com/photos/usoceangov/33610554751

An example of eelgrass meadows and their inhabitants. Credit: Bob Orth, Virginia Institute of Marine Science. Source: NOAA - https://www.flickr.com/photos/usoceangov/33610554751