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...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Do Not Abandon Hope, Ye of Little Faith

So, a few posts back I was disappointed in the lack of scallop spat on my mats and in Hallock Bay in general. We had not really seen any in our collectors which we use to monitor spat in any of the collections, and so I was not so upset that I wasn't finding them on my mats, just figuring they weren't around. I was a little worried though, since scallop recruitment is a part of my research, and I was already thinking about possibilities of new locations for next year. I was ready to give up on the recruitment thing all together, since it is a lot of work to make the recruitment squares, to search for the squares within the mats, and to put new squares back on, not to mention I didn't want to keep wasting fuel for fruitless boat trips to my site. However, after much deliberation, I decided to make a new set of squares over the weekend to put one more set out there, just to be sure I wouldn't miss it.
Well we went to the site on Monday to collect my 3rd set of recruitment squares and to replace them with the 5th (and final) set. I also keep a set of spat collectors at the center of my array to make sure scallops are recruiting to the area using a known method for sampling them. I always process the spat collectors first, just so I have an idea of what to expect on my squares. Guess what?

Scallop spat in my collectors!! This was exciting. It wasn't a lot, only 16 total out of 3 bags, but I honestly didn't think I would see any. I still wasn't sure what to expect on my mats, but at least I was happy there were spat in the area. After processing all the recruitment squares, I did have spat on the mats! Success!! Well, kind of - we only found 4 total spat on the squares, not quite numbers that I can use for any kind of stats. However, now I know that if there are spat in the area, they will potentially settle on my mats, which was very refreshing to find.

Oh, and there is better news, the spat that we found was mostly small - 2-4mm. This is good, because it means the spawn happened relatively recently, and will probably show up on my next set of collectors. Second, and more exciting, is what we found today - in our spat monitoring we have 5 sites within Hallock Bay where we have sets of collectors, and we found spat at all of them, and in decent numbers (some bags over 20 scallops) and again, many were small. So I am keeping my fingers crossed that I will see much better numbers on my mats during my next collection!

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