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Underwater grass levels reach new record, VIMS report says

The abundance of underwater grasses in Chesapeake Bay increased 8 percent between 2015 and 2016, according to an annual report by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

The increase marks the second year in a row that bay-wide acreage of submerged aquatic vegetation has reached a record high. A total of 97,433 acres of SAV were mapped in Chesapeake Bay during 2016. VIMS began its aerial survey in 1984.

“It was an impressive year, following on a previously impressive year,” said Professor Robert “JJ” Orth, head of the SAV Monitoring and Restoration Program at VIMS. “We are at numbers that we have not seen in … ever.”

The increase comes despite weather conditions and security restrictions that prevented acquisition of aerial imagery for portions of the Potomac River. “Even though we were unable to make a couple of areas that we know have a lot of SAV, we are remarkably still above the 2015 bay-wide levels,” Orth said.


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