Zostera marina is a seagrass species, commonly known as eelgrass, that is found on both coasts of the United States, as well as in Europe. Unfortunately, Zostera is disappearing all over the place, including right here in New York. This could have devastating impacts on animals that rely on eelgrass as foraging grounds, or, as is the case with scallops, use it as a refuge from predation. This is its story, as seen through the eyes of an aspiring graduate student...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Diving in Flanders

As part of our free plant scallop monitoring, I went diving in Flanders Bay, the westernmost of the Peconic Estuary system, to do quadrat counts and collect scallops for gonad index analysis - we can use this to see if and when the scallops have spawned. The counts revealed ~2 scallops per square meter - much lower than the original planting densities, but still fairly decent numbers considering the un-ideal bottom. That said, I saw a northern puffer (YAY!) in my first quadrat. This is exciting because their numbers have been severely reduced in recent years. However, puffers are potential scallop predators, so I don't know how excited I should be. However, they may also inhibit mud crab predation on scallops. Either way, it was exciting. I saw sea nettles, tons of comb jellies (ctenophores), that puffer, tons of silversides, blackfish and cunners, whelks, mud crabs, and of course scallops - oh and some red beard sponges. It was actually a pretty decent dive. Take a look at the pictures.

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