On the unseasonably chilly morning of August 27th, Wes and Jill hit the water early to harvest 4,000 eelgrass shoots from a small cove in Nahant Harbor. The bed looked great: tall, thick and dense with abundant reproductive shoots. When enough plants were harvested, divers stored them in covered totes and steamed by boat to the New England Aquarium’s education building, where 19 volunteers from the Live Blue Ambassador’s program were ready to “get their weave on”.
Jill and Wes kicked off the event with a presentation about the ecology and importance of eelgrass, the work carried out by MarineFisheries eelgrass team, and a quick training session. Volunteers would be using the Burlap Disc (BD) method developed by Chris Pickerell (Cornell Cooperative Extension) to weave 10 shoots into each planting unit.
Volunteers huddled around 6 table-top stations containing shallow totes filled with saltwater. Keeping the plants wet at all times, they tirelessly weaved the eelgrass onto discs (provided by C. Pickerell) which were then placed in a central tote to be skewered and quality controlled by Kate.
|Volunteer event in the NEAq Harborside Learning Lab|
|LBA Participants weaving grass|
|Kate and Wes skewer and QC the discs|
Previously, we used outdoor venues for volunteer events – so we are grateful that NEAq helped us keep ourselves and the eelgrass out of the direct sun.
Over the course of 2½ hours, the 19 volunteers weaved 390 discs (3900 plants), weaving at a rate of about 8½ discs per person per hour. If our typical 3-person field team tried to weave all this, it would take about 15 hours!
|Tay helps weave at one of the stations|
|NEAq's Lucy Indge (background) helps one of the volunteers work through a huge pile of plants|
At the end of the event, the finished discs were taken to the Winthrop Harbormaster’s pier and soaked in lobster cars overnight. The team planted the discs over the following 2 days, totaling six 5m x 5m plots at Governor’s Island Flats, with a total expansion area of ¼ acre. We look forward to monitoring the plots in the coming weeks.
For a video file of the presentation, or details about our methods, contact the eelgrass project staff.
Our special thanks to:
Lucy Indge and education staff at the New England Aquarium, Chris Pickerell and the Cornell Cooperative Extension, NEAq Live Blue Ambassadors participants: Abby Park, Victoria McGovern, Wafa’a Satti, Shirley Ma, Destiny Alfonso, Jiayi Chen, Maegan Allen, Samantha Eschuk, Adam Barriga, Haley LaMonica, Jada Wilhelmsen, Nadina Khudaynazar, Cory Johnson, James Orlic, Nicholas Pioppi, Abigail Muscat, Rachel Borczuk, and Antonia Eidmann.