Annual Survey of Chesapeake Bay Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Indicates 21-percent Increase from 2014 to 2015

In late April 2016, the Chesapeake Bay Program and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) reported that the acreage of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAVs) in the Bay (also called “underwater grasses” or “Bay grasses”) increased by 21 percent from 2014 to 2015, reaching an estimated 91,621 acres.  This coverage of SAVs was the largest in the history of the annual Bay-wide aerial survey, which began in 1984, and exceeded the Bay Program’s target coverage for the year 2017.

According to the Bay Program’s news release, “Experts attribute this spike to the recovery of Wild Celery and other species in the fresher waters of the upper Bay, the continued expansion of Widgeon Grass in the moderately salty waters of the mid-Bay and a modest recovery of Eelgrass in the very salty waters of the lower Bay.”

Detailed information about 2015 Bay grasses acreage is available at Abundance of Chesapeake Bay’s underwater grasses rises 21%, VIMS, 4/28/16, online at http://www.vims.edu/newsandevents/topstories/sav_2015_report.php.

Other sources are the following:
Monitoring finds more than 91,000 acres of underwater grasses in Chesapeake Bay, Chesapeake Bay Program news release, 4/28/16.
Chesapeake Bay Program, “Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV),” online at http://www.chesapeakeprogress.com/abundant-life/vital-habitats/sav, 5/3/16.
Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS), “2015 SAV Report Executive Summary,” online at http://web.vims.edu/bio/sav/sav15/exec_summary.html.
Bay grasses expand to greatest extent in more than 30 years, Bay Journal, 4/28/16.

For a look at the results of the annual survey five years ago (2011 data), please see the Water Central News Grouper post, “Annual Survey of Chesapeake Bay Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Indicates 21-percent Decrease Occurred in 2011,” 4/12/12.

Bay SAVs chart

Chart of Chesapeake Bay submerged aquatic vegetation (SAVs) from 1984 to 2015, based on the annual aerial survey by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.  Graph from Chesapeake Bay Program Web, “Chesapeake Bay News,” 4/28/16, online at http://www.chesapeakebay.net/blog/post/monitoring_finds_more_than_91000_acres_of_underwater_grasses_in_chesapeake (accessed 5/3/16).

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