Friends of Farm Pond, Oak Bluffs, MA

Eel Grass Maps and Surveys

Eel grass mapping legend - 2006
Eel grass mapping legend - 2006

Eel grass map from 2006
Eel grass map from 2006

Eelgrass is a rooted marine plant that provides habitat for bay scallops, blue crabs, tautog, winter flounder, and tomcod, among others. Because eelgrass is very sensitive to poor water quality, its decline is a warning bell that must be heeded.

Eelgrass is often mistaken for a seaweed. Unlike seaweed, it has roots and even flowers underwater. One of the most important roles of eelgrass is to provide underwater shelter for species of fish and shellfish, especially bay scallops. Young scallops that attach themselves to the eelgrass leaves are less vulnerable to bottom predators like crabs and starfish. When eelgrass washes up on the beach, its brown piles provide cover for the small invertebrates that nourish wandering shorebirds. Decreased scallop populations followed the decline of eelgrass beds in the 1930s. While eelgrass populations have increased since then, they are now in jeopardy again due to poor water quality.


1998 Survey of Eelgrass Beds of Senekontacket and Farm Ponds

Kara Hempy, UMass Student Intern
William Wilcox, Water Resource Planner

This study was funded by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Management Lakes and Ponds Program and the Martha’s Vineyard Commission under the auspices of the Oak Bluffs Conservation Commission

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