Eelgrass Health and Restoration

Eelgrass is a marine flowering plant that provides the foundation for our harbor environment. The value of eelgrass meadows is well documented and includes stabilizing sediments, improving water quality and clarity, mitigating for CO2 emissions, and providing habitat to a number of commercially important and/or endangered species including the last commercially viable “wild” bay scallop fishery in the U.S. The abundance and health of eelgrass has, however, diminished from historic levels in many areas. Over the years the Nantucket Land Council (NLC) has supported eelgrass research that has revealed a need for action.

The NLC began the first phase of an eelgrass restoration project in Nantucket harbor last fall.  Utilizing assistance from intrepid members and volunteers, NLC staff and consultants harvested eelgrass shoots from Hussey Shoal and transplanted them into our restoration site off second pier in Monomoy.  This initial transplant will be monitored during the spring and will inform continued restoration efforts throughout 2019.  The plants have successfully survived the winter and we look forward to more formal monitoring of the site in the coming months.

The NLC will continue its study to assess the overall health of eelgrass meadows throughout Nantucket and Madaket harbors. This study will look at nutrient impacts to eelgrass in Nantucket and compare it to the health of eelgrass in other regional communities along the North Shore and Cape Cod.

Your contributions to The Water Fund enable the NLC to continue working with eelgrass specialists from Boston University to oversee and assist with the health assessment and restoration work.  Click here to join us in protecting and preserving our water resources!