|Frozen Lanes Cove, Gloucester, MA.|
Field work in January is far from routine in New England. With temperatures ranging from 1°F on January 24th to 62°F on January 31st and winds gusting most days to 25 knots, it’s tough to schedule time on the water. It always seems that the coldest days are the calmest and the warmer days are riddled with fog and wind. The extreme temperature swings, snowstorms, downpours, and 60 knot gusts make January an ideal time to snuggle up to a cup of tea and start planning for spring fieldwork.
|Eelgrass in January.|
But, on January 16th, DMF divers managed to sneak in one day in the field to complete a portion of the quarterly SeagrassNet monitoring. The day started out snowing heavily with zero visibility. The forecast called for the snow to end early and there was no wind, making for calm seas for the short steam from Gloucester Harbor to Salem Sound. Upon arrival to the SeagrassNet site, the snow began to let up as forecasted and the divers were ready to go. The first team in the water managed to complete an entire transect. The 40°F water was a welcome change from the 30°F air even though that still makes for numb fingers that don’t function well with a pencil in hand.
The eelgrass at the SeagrassNet site looked healthy. As is typical in the winter, the density had decreased and shoots were small and brilliant green. With an average of 111 shoots / m2, a mean percent cover of approximately 20%, and an average shoot height of 37 cm, the meadow is seasonally at a lower density compared to the 75% - 90% cover typically found in July.
The next quarterly monitoring in April will kick off a busy spring and summer. In the meantime, the DMF eelgrass team will be hard at work the rest of the winter planning for another season of eelgrass restoration, monitoring, and mapping.