What is Eelgrass?
Eelgrass is a type of submerged aquatic vegetation (referred to as SAV) that grows in estuaries and shallow bays. Eelgrass is not a seaweed – it is a perennial flowering plant.
Seagrass ecosystems are among the most diverse and productive ecosystems in the world. In ecological and economic value, they rival tropical rainforests and the world’s richest farmlands. Additionally, eelgrass beds are recognized as “nursery” areas for many marine and anadromous species. Eelgrass provides food, shelter and protection from predators for many juvenile fish and shellfish of ecological, commercial and recreational importance.
Why Monitor Eelgrass?
A viable and self-sustaining SAV population is an indicator of a healthy estuary (in estuaries that naturally support SAV). By monitoring the occurrence of SAV beds and the changes in their distribution, density, and species composition, trained volunteers can help determine the health and status of SAV in an estuary. Scientists can then compare this information to historical data of SAV beds and monitor changes.
In 2013, Dianne Sanford, the Sunshine Coast Regional District, and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans began mapping eelgrass beds in the Gibsons Marina. View the resulting Eelgrass Mapping Report. In February 2014, Dianne provided a PowerPoint presentation to Council on the topic. View the presentation here.
View a short video about eelgrass: Salish Sea Oceancast.
U.S. Geological Survey information about the Future of Pacific Northwest Seagrasses in a Changing Climate here: http://soundwaves.usgs.gov/2013/04/meetings.html
The Province, Vancouver Island University and Comox Valley Project Watershed Society have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and identified opportunities – starting in the Comox Valley – for these blue carbon projects in B.C – read more: http://projectwatershed.ca/unlocking-coastal-bcs-blue-carbon-opportunities/
David Suzuki Foundation – Nearshore Natural Capital Valuation