Eelgrass and Benthic Studiesass Survey

Susan Bryant and Dr. Sara Grady are the Ecology Coaches for CSCR's Eelgrass and Benthic Studies Project.  The project started as a seaperch robotics project with Laura Humphrey and has evolved each year. In 2016 we began using ARCGIS to record densities, patchiness, bottom type, tunicates and wasting disease, and in the lab measured these features along with # of leaves, length, width and reproductive shoots, inspired by SeagrassNet protocol.  We take underwater GoPro footage, observations by wading, floating, and snorkeling. We present our findings annually at CSCR's early spring State of the Watershed Event, and at Zosterapalooza, a conference held in Boston by Phil Colarusso and the Environmental Protection Agency.  We are thrilled to discuss our work with other researchers and local residents.  Contact  Join this project as a high school student, or get involved as an advisor or sponsor! Sign up for our low-tide expeditions here. Our low tide schedule is here.
Eel grass is like the nursery for fish–it reduces greenhouse grasses and stores carbon.
You can find eel grass just outside the Harbor, out at the Glades, Whitehead, or around Sandy Cove.
Here's what eel grass looks like:
Here is the byproduct of our data analysis. We have found that by measuring the length, width
and number of the eelgrass leaves, reproductive shoots and wasting disease in a sample of
eelgrass, we can determine if the eel grass is healthy. Our job is to keep track of where healthy
and unhealthy eelgrass is in our own Cohasset Harbor. Our main worry to eelgrass health is wasting
disease. Wasting disease is a fatal disease that spreads to eelgrass. Once a shoot or leaf of eelgrass
is dead from wasting disease, their leaves turn black or gray, like the pictures above and below.


This is one of our student researchers diving into Cohasset Harbor with a Go-Pro
and quadrat to survey a new found patch of eel grass.
 Our team heading out for another day on the water.                                                                                                                                               
Our findings: