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Virginia CZM Program 2005 Coastal Grant Project Description and Final Summary

Project Task:

FY2005 Task 9.03


Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Project Title:

Restoration of Seagrasses in Virginia’s Coastal Bays - Year 4

Project Description as Proposed:

The project objectives for year 4 of the Seaside Heritage Program build upon restoration success of previous years and will continue the large scale planting efforts at locations deemed suitable for further seed enhancements as well as pinpointing additional sites for further expansion in the following years. The program in Year 4 has six tasks:

1) establishment of test plots in Hog Island Bay for additional large scale efforts

2) monitor success of test plots in Hog Island Bay and established seagrass areas South Bay, Cobb Bay, and Gull Marsh area.

3) collect seeds for 2006 restoration efforts using a new seed collection method (an underwater grass harvester) and testing new methods to harvest shoots at multiple sites.

4) collect water quality with dataflow techniques at monthly intervals throughout the growing seasons in areas with existing eelgrass and adjacent unvegetated areas.

5) large scale seagrass restoration concentrated in the Gull Marsh/Hog Island Bay area where new test plots were planted in fall of 2004.

6) mapping of seagrass from aerial photographs (to be flown in 2006) to map existing strands of seagrass following the standard operating procedures used by the annual SAV monitoring program at VIMS.

Federal Funding:


Project Contact:

Robert J. Orth, 804.684.7392;

Project Status:

Project Completed

Final Product Received:

Restoration of Seagrasses in Virginia Seaside Bays Year 4 - (Oct. 1, 2005, to Sept. 30, 2006)
By Robert Orth, Kenneth Moore, Britt Anderson, Scott Marion, David Wilcox

Final Report PDF

Project Summary Provided by Grantee:

Seagrasses, primarily eelgrass, Zostera marina, were once very abundant in the coastal bays, covering most of the subaqueous bottom.  In the 1930s eelgrass underwent a massive decline attributed to a wasting disease pathogen, Labyrinthula sp. And along with a massive hurricane in 1933, seagrasses were totally eliminated from these bays. 

With initial work at attempts in restoring seagrass starting in 1996 being highly successful the goal of this project was to continue the restoration of seagrasses in the seaside coastal bays. 

1) monitor success of test and established seagrass areas which showed most areas planted in previous years have continued to grow and spread.  Test plots survived in Hog Island Bay which triggered the effort to conduct large scale seed restoration efforts here,

2) collect seeds for 2006 efforts  1.6 million seeds were used for restoration efforts in Hog Island Bay,

3) surface mapping of water quality with dataflow-seven cruises were completed during the 2006 field season between March 30 and Nov. 29 collecting data on turbidity, chlorophyll fluorescence, temperature, salinity, pH, dissolved oxygen.  Four deployments were completed using the fixed station in April, June, August and October. 

4) large scale seagrass restoration  we planted 1.6 million seeds in 28 plots, each covering either 0.5 or 1.0 acres for a total of 21 acres at seed densities of 50,000 to 100,000 per acre in Hog Island Bay, and

5) Aerial photographs high level black and white images were collected in late fall, 2006. 

The results to date have important implications in seagrass restoration projects especially in the use of seeds versus whole plants and monitoring water quality to insure that we understand any alterations that may occur in this system to the restoration efforts.
A notable milestone of the seaside restoration effort in 2006 was the approval the continuance of our set aside in South Bay along with a request for an additional 366.36 acres, giving us a total of 727.85 acres as set aside in South Bay by VMRC.  This mirrors the 400 acre set aside in South Bay that was approved in 2001, and allows the continuation of successful seagrass restoration efforts without issues relating to clam dredging and aquaculture leases.

Disclaimer: This project summary provides the federal dollars initially awarded to the grantee. Due to underexpenditure or reprogramming of grant funds, this figure may change. For more information on the allocation of coastal grant funds, please contact Laura McKay, Virginia Coastal Program Manager, at 804.698.4323 or email:

A more detailed Scope of Work for this project is available. Please direct your request for a copy to

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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000

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