Welcome to SeagrassSoundings Blog

Welcome to SeagrassSoundings Blog

SeagrassSoundings focuses on the work that scientists and managers are doing to protect, preserve, study, restore and monitor seagrass in Massachusetts and throughout New England.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Incorporating volunteers in eelgrass restoration: Another successful event in Boston Harbor

On the beautiful summer morning of August 27th, 2014 the MarineFisheries eelgrass team met with eight of the New England Aquarium Live Blue Ambassador’s staff and teen volunteers at the Winthrop boat ramp in Boston Harbor.  The event was our 4th volunteer effort of its kind, where local environmental groups help prepare eelgrass planting units for divers to transplant at restoration sites.

The morning was kicked off with a presentation about the ecology and importance of eelgrass, the work carried out by the 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 eelgrass shoots into burlap disc planting units.  Eelgrass shoots were harvested by divers the previous day from a small cove off of Nahant, and were soaked underwater overnight off the Winthrop dock.

Aquarium volunteers and MarineFisheries staff huddled around 4 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 quality controlled and prepared to hand off to divers. Over the course of 3½ hours the group weaved 260 discs (2600 plants), weaving at a rate of about 7 discs per person per hour. If our typical 3-person field team tried to weave all this, it would take about 9 hours of straight weaving!

At the end of the event, four MarineFisheries divers suited up and took the discs to one of our Boston Harbor restoration sites: Peddocks Island. The dive teams planted three 5m x 5m plots off the western shore of Peddocks Island, adjacent to four plots that were planted earlier in the summer. The total planned expansion area of the seven combined plots is over 1/2 acre. We look forward to monitoring the success of the plots in the coming weeks.

We have experienced great success incorporating volunteers in our restoration efforts.  In 2012 we hosted two similar events with the help of Salem Sound Coastwatch and NEAq Live Blue Ambassador volunteers (see 2012 blog posts for more info).  Planting units from those events were transplanted at our Woodbury Point and Middle Ground restoration sites in Salem Sound.  In 2013 we hosted another NEAq volunteer event in Boston Harbor and planted those units on Governors Island Flats (see 2013 post).  All events combined, volunteers assisted in preparing 13,000 eelgrass shoots into 1,300 planting units covering four separate restoration sites.  The transplanted units are expected expand to over an acre of eelgrass in Boston Harbor and Salem Sound.

For a copy of the training presentation or details about the methods please contact the eelgrass project staff.

Our special thanks to: Lucy Indge and education staff at the New England Aquarium, NEAq Live Blue Ambassadors participants, Chris Pickerell and the Cornell Cooperative Extension, and volunteers from other projects at MarineFisheries.