Eel Grass

December 14, 2013 (Bart Chezar)

The eelgrass looks great.  It was very cold. There were snow showers and snow starting to accumulate on the pier.  We saw red seaweed, green seaweed – Ulva lactuca, Irish moss – Chondrus crispus, Fucus and snails on leaves. There was also a dense bed of blue mussels in a shallow tidal pool on the pier.

To view Nicolle’s video of our work to date click here.

Finally for your pleasure, see the picture below of a 6”+ oyster shell found on the pier by Anusha – very impressive.

6”+ oyster shell found on the pier by Anusha.
6”+ oyster shell found on the pier by Anusha.

October 12, 2013 (Nicolle Martinez)

The goal of our visit to Pier 5 in Sunset, Brooklyn was to plant eelgrass and monitor past plantings from October 13th, 2012 and June 2, 2013. Bart Chezar and Tim McKinney had previously visited the Cornell Cooperative Extension Services Seagrass Center in Southold, Long Island, NY to receive 20 burlap circles measuring 8” in diameter with eel grass filaments woven through. These circles are referred to as “tortillas.” These blades of eelgrass are harvested from a donor meadow, located in Orient Point, Long Island, NY. These blades were nearly 2’ in size, the largest filaments received thus far. New York Harbor School students traveled to Pier 5 via the schools boat, the Indy 7. Low tide was at 8:54 am, and it was unusually high. Stakes previously placed were not visible. The eelgrass was planted in clusters of 10, while it has previously been planted in clusters of 3. The tortillas were planted in 4’ of water, with no visibility.  The water temperature was 18.15°C (64.8°F). A Research StowAway TidbiT Temp Logger was installed to keep tract of temperature every 10 minutes until we return to the site to retrieve it. At which time, it can be assessed whether or not the area has appropriate temperatures to house eelgrass successfully. These data are significant because they can be used as reference to track the cause of any deterioration in the health of eelgrass.

August 27, 2013 (Bart Chezar)

Assisted by Tim McKinney, Brian Sullivan, Anusha Bishop and Cameron Hickey, we inspected the small eelgrass installation on the south side of Pier 5.  We entered the water soon after low tide.  The water temperature was 71.1° F and, as in the past soon after low tide, the visibility was poor.  Snorkeling in the area we identified at least five small clumps of eelgrass (see picture).  Though I wouldn’t characterize the eelgrass as looking vibrant they are surviving.  Geese and Brant in the area seem not to have discovered it, and other hazards to survival (crabs, mud snails, water quality, visibility, etc) seem not to have won out.  Using measuring tape and compass bearings we marked each of the sites.  As a reminder, we planted eelgrass at the site on two dates, October 13, 2012 and June 2, 2013.  We have eelgrass surviving from both of these plantings.  Based on the current condition at the site I would like to do an additional planting in late September/early October.  I will be contacting the Cornell Univ. Cooperative Extension Seagrass Center to see if they can provide us with the eelgrass we will need.

There are extensive blue mussel beds on the pier pilings, and on and between the concrete slabs at the end of the pier.  During this visit we measured a sampling of the blue mussels to enable us to track their growth.  The range in size of our sample group was 20.8 – 34 mm. and the average size was 25.2 mm.

Another activity we conducted during this visit was to plant three types of saltmarsh grasses at the pier. The grasses, provided to us by the Greenbelt Native Species Center on Staten Island operated by NYC, were Spartina alterniflora (saltmarsh cordgrass), Spartina patens (saltmeadow cordgrass), and Distichlis spicata (spikegrass/saltgrass).  The S. alterniflora and S. patens were planted in an intertidal area on a small sandy beach on the north side of the pier (picture).  S. patens and D. spicata was planted in a sandy strip between two concrete slabs at a somewhat higher elevation (picture).  During a subsequent visit to the site on August 31st I saw that the S. alterniflora on the west side of the beach had washed away, probably due to being too far below the high tide line, turbulence and steep slope.  The S. alterniflora on the lee side (east) side of the beach survived but will probably not last through the winter.  The other grasses are doing fine.  We will need to find a better (higher) site for the S. alterniflora in the future.

2013-08-27 08.26.22
Eel Grass (Bart).
2013-08-27 09.49.54
Potential Spartina substrate (Bart).
Potential Spartina substrate.
Potential Spartina substrate (Bart).

June 2, 2013 (Bart Chezar)

This past Sunday we successfully planted the eelgrass along Pier 5 in Brooklyn. It looks like our problems with the eelgrass we planted last Fall are beginning. As mentioned previously, this eelgrass seems to have made it through the winter and in a visit to the site in early May the eelgrass seemed to be ok. On Sunday we noticed most of last year’s eelgrass was laying on the bottom – see first picture. There were many small mud snails in the area of this eelgrass. The last two pictures shows samples of the eelgrass at the surface.  There are snail egg casings on the eelgrass.  In a video of early March there was a frame in which one can see a snail on the eelgrass with a few egg casings nearby.

2013-06-02 10.43.58
Eel grass plot weighed down and completely covered in mudsnail egg casings (Bart).
Eelgrass blade with mud snail egg casings.
Eelgrass blade with mud snail egg casings (Bart).
2013-06-02 10.53.05
More eelgrass with egg casings (Bart).

December 9, 2012 (Nicolle Martinez)

Our eel grass team including Liv and Joe from SCUBA and Pete from Aquaculture, set out to assess possible damages due to Superstorm Sandy. We were expecting the worst but when we got there, we found the markers, stakes, and vibrantly green eel grass in place. This site appears to be well protected from wave action and an excellent choice for the re-population of eel grass. Netting was installed at the first and shallowest station to avoid grazing by the Brant – marine bird known to eat eel grass. No Brants were observed though some individual oysters were! For a video of the eel grass click: Eel grass video.

October 13, 2012 (Mauricio Gonzaléz)

Bart (Indy), Tim (Indy), Kerstin (NY-NJ Bay Keeper), and Nicolle (NY Harbor SEALs) added Eel grass to the sandy benthos at Pier 5 off of the Bush Terminal Piers Park. We successfully installed 6 stations with over 18 “tortillas” of eel grass.

Bush Terminal Piers Park in Brooklyn, NY. Site of Eel grass re-population efforts.
Pier 5 of the Bush Terminal Piers Park – site of the eel grass re-population project. (Photo: Bart)
“Tortillas” with eel grass woven into it. (Photo: Nicolle)
Nicolle (foreground) and the stakes and station markers (background). (Photo: Beni)
Mauricio (NYHS), Bart (Indy), and Kerstin (NY-NJ Bay Keeper) installing eel grass. (Photo: Beni)
Eel grass installed on October 13th, 2012. (Photo: Mauricio)
Eel grass installed on October 13th, 2012. (Photo: Mauricio)
Eel grass installed on October 13th, 2012. (Photo: Mauricio)
Pier 5 of the Bush Terminal Piers Park.
Bush Terminal Piers Park plans (NYS DEC)
Eel Grass Stations Map.

September 29, 2012 (Mauricio Gonzaléz)

New York Harbor School students were accompanied by Mauricio Gonzalez, Bart Chezar and some of his colleagues to Pier 5 in Sunset, Brooklyn. The purpose of this was to measure the water quality of this area in order to deduce whether or not the water quality was appropriate to plant eelgrass and if eelgrass could survive here. The results from this trip would determine the likelihood that eelgrass would survive at Pier 5 and contributed greatly to the decision of whether or not to initiate a project in which eelgrass would be planted to the sediment here.

Low tide was at approximately 9 AM. Participants remained on site from 9AM to 3PM, taking water quality at various distances from shore, different tidal heights, and at locations where the floor was at different depths. The purpose of this was to get nearly an entire day’s worth of data, which would benefit in determining the likelihood of survival of eelgrass in this area.

Brooklyn Piers Park Release Form:

EDC release doc


Civic Scientist Environmental Monitoring of the Hudson-Raritan Estuary

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