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Bay’s underwater grasses rebounding slowly

Acre-by-acre, underwater grasses in the Chesapeake Bay have begun to rebound slowly, according to the latest data from the Chesapeake Bay Program.

In 2021, an estimated 67,470 acres of underwater grasses were mapped in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries, achieving 37 percent of the ultimate restoration goal of 185,000 acres. However, it is likely that more underwater grasses grew in the bay in 2021 than the mapped acreage suggests. Adverse weather conditions, such as frequent rain and cloudy water, prevented researchers from successfully collecting imagery over the Mattaponi and Pamunkey rivers.

While underwater grass abundance did increase by almost 9 percent from 2020 to 2021, the preliminary acreage observed in 2021 is still a slight decrease from the long-term average of 69,623 acres, and approximately a 38 percent decline from 2018, when it was estimated that the bay might have supported up to 108,078 acres.

Underwater grass abundance can vary from species to s...

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