They’re Back … And They’re Wonderful!

Published: May 12, 2020

Despite the rigors of dealing with the coronavirus, there’s a reason to rejoice and give thanks – our underwater grasses, fabled submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV), are making another comeback. It’s time to celebrate!

The return of our underwater grasses is an indicator of improving water quality because the grasses need sunlight and clear water to thrive.

And in return, the grasses :

  • create habitat for fish and crabs,
  • provide food for waterfowl and muskrats,
  • sequester carbon just like land-based vegetation,
  • oxygenate the water,
  • filter and clean the river, and
  • protect shorelines from storm and wake activity.

The picture to the above is Horned Pondweed in West Severna Park. It arrives in spring to welcome the returning Osprey who, like our Bald Eagles, depend on the forage fish that shelter in these grasses.

We’ve been getting reports of Horned Pondweed popping up in healthy thick beds throughout upper river, but especially in Round Bay, Hopkins Creek, Little Round Bay, Yantz Creek, West Severna Park and Chase Creek.  Horned Pondweed will die off in June to give way to the summer grasses — Widgeon, Redhead and Sago Pondweed.

Now, yes, there is a bit of inconvenience associated with the grasses.

But we hope everyone will appreciate the benefits of underwater grasses while we pull grass out of our props.

Here’s one great reason to treat the inconvenience as minor: more grass means more crabs! the picture at left is of a Jimmy Blue swimming through a bed of Redhead and Widgeon grasses in Round Bay.

An explanation of why we became blessed with all this SAV is detailed in our 2019 State Of The Severn report.

To download the 10-page written version our April 21 presentation, click here.

River Monitoring Programs Relaunch … Slowly

Now that the Hogan administration has relaxed some Covid-19 boating restrictions, SRA will slowly resume its water quality monitoring programs.

Hopefully we’ll be able to invite volunteer citizen scientists help out one day — when the Hogan Administration and Department of Natural Resources give us a green light to do so.

As SRA resumes water quality monitoring operations, we will follow DNR’s new Covid-19 safety guidelines for ensuring safety of staff and volunteers. We will likely start with solo operations, then add staff and volunteers as conditions warrant.

Until then, please be patient. We all want to return to work as conditions allow.  There’s a lot of work that needs doing. Opportunities will present themselves. Until then, be safe.

Photos: Keith Madsen, Jack Turner