Restoration of eelgrass (zostera marina
) beds on the Seaside of Virginia's Eastern Shore is a significant accomplishment of the Virginia CZM Program through the Virginia Seaside Heritage Program
, a public-private effort focusing on the restoration of aquatic resources and sustainable industries on the seaside. This work continues through grants to Virginia CZM Program partners including the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, and under the Seaside Special Area Management Plan
Eelgrass Restoration Successes under the Virginia Seaside Heritage Program - June 2012 Fact Sheet (pdf)
- Eelgrass beds provide habitat! The beds provide food and habitat for waterfowl, fish, shellfish and invertebrates. Eelgrass beds are a special habitat for many aquatic organisms and a pivotal role in the life of many aquatic species, including the Bay scallop and the Lined seahorse. Restored beds on the seaside has already begun encouraging the return of many of these species.
Eelgrass produce oxygen! Eelgrass produces oxygen in the water column as part of the photosynthetic process.
- Eelgrass beds control sediment! The beds filter and trap sediment that can cloud the water and bury bottom-dwelling organisms, such as oysters.
- Eelgrass beds protect shorelines! The beds protect shorelines from erosion by absorbing wave energy.
- Eelgrass removes excess nutrients! Eelgrass removes excess nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, that could fuel unwanted growth of algae in surrounding waters. Eelgrass requires these nutrients for growth and reproduction.
Seed Broadcasting: A seagrass restoration technique sowing great rewards on Virginia’s Seaside
Eelgrass restoration on the Seaside of Virginia's Eastern Shore focuses on the redistribution of grass seeds. Seeds are sustainably harvested from productive grass beds and transplanted to areas in need of restoration.
Aerial photos, like the one at right, show the phenomenal success of eelgrass plots restored on Virginia’s Seaside using the seed broadcasting technique. This plot in the shape of a “W” restored in 2000 is thriving and spreading naturally to the surrounding area!
Learn more about restoration of seagrass on Virginia's Eastern Shore by the Virginia CZM Program ! Visit the Virginia Seaside Heritage Program page!
Fun, Educational Materials
This interactive educational activity created by Virginia CZM Program Office staff enables students to build a model of an eelgrass bed (in small wading pools) and populate their eelgrass bed with some of the species that inhabit the bed (Laminated and weighted cutouts of the animals) - helping teach the children how eelgrass beds are a critical habitat to other marine species.
Download plans to construct and conduct the activity - Build-A-Bed Activity Design and Instructions - pdf
Seacil of the Seagrass
Official mascot of the Virginia Seaside Heritage Program, Seacil of the Seagrass, a costumed character, is available for loan to Virginia CZM partners. Seacil also was featured as a cookie cutter with the message "Seacil the Seahorse Lives in the Seagrass! Support Seagrass Restoration!" Although supplies of the cookie cutter have been depleted, the mold created for the cookie cutter is still available for use. Call (804) 698-4320 or e-mail.
Links to SAV websites
Virginia Institute of Marine Science - www.vims.edu/bio/sav/
VIMS SAV Restoration Page - www.vims.edu/bio/sav/restoration/
Chesapeake Bay Program (EPA) - www.chesapeakebay.net/baygras.htm
For comments or questions concerning this program's web pages, contact the Virginia Witmer.
This website is provided by the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program through a Coastal Zone Management Act grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, US Department of Commerce.