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; 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 was monitored and over-wintered well. Restoration efforts are continuing throughout 2019 with additional transplants at the site in spring and late summer when conditions are ideal for plants to thrive.

The Nantucket Land Council contracted with Dr. Alyssa Novak, Research Assistant Professor at Boston University to conduct an Eelgrass Health Assessment in 2018. This research was made possible by a Great Harbor Yacht Club/Nantucket Land Council Marine Grant. We thank the GHYC for their support. Read the full assessment here: 2018 NLC Nantucket Harbor Eelgrass Health Assessment.

The NLC will continue to assess the overall health of eelgrass meadows throughout Nantucket and Madaket harbors to 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!