On Friday, July 8 the South RIVERKEEPER and interns braved the heat and set out in search of SAV; submerged aquatic vegetation. Leaving from Selby Bay, they kayaked all around South River Farm Park and it wasn’t long before they located widgeon grass. Native to the Chesapeake Bay, widgeon grass, Ruppia maritime ,is known for its ability to tolerate a wide range of salinities and serves as a valuable waterfowl food source. Shortly afterwards, sago pondweed, Stuckenia pectinata, another native to the Bay was located and identified. Sago Pondweed is an even more valuable food source for waterfowl and is widespread throughout the country. Using GIS technologies, it was calculated that there are approximately 8 acres of SAV beds around South River Farm Park as seen in the image. The SAV goal for restoration is 455 acres in the South River.
Why are underwater grasses important?
Underwater grasses, or SAV, are the life support system of the South River and Chesapeake Bay! They provide the dissolved oxygen necessary for aquatic animals. These grasses serve as a habitat for fish, blue crabs, mollusks, and birds. Bay scientists have found that 30 times more juvenile blue crabs live in grass beds than barren bottom.
What causes the lack of underwater grasses?
The lack of underwater grasses is due to the poor water quality conditions in the South River. The high concentrations of sediment and nutrients coming off of the land prevent sunlight from reaching the bottom of the shallows. Without sunlight, the grasses will not grow, and if the grasses do not grow, then there will not be enough oxygen or habitat for animals.
When do they grow?
Horned-pond weed grows from mid-April through May. Sago pondweed and widgeon grass grow in the South River from June through the end of October.
South River Farm Park, South River, MD Area measurement
Segment: 0.092841 Miles
Perimeter: 1.095961 Miles
Area: 8.621282 Acres