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, October 21, 2008

Another day, another 100,000 scallops

Or something like that... Last Thursday, October 16th, I went diving out in Flanders Bay. We were doing a bottom survey of a previous free release spot for scallops, since we were preparing to release ~100,000 seed scallops as part of the restoration efforts going on in Long Island.

Flanders for a very long time sustained a sizeable scallop population even inthe absence of eelgrass (Zostera marina). But land use changes in addition to the brown tides more than likely led to their demise in that area. Luckily, a year after last years plantings, there were still ~ 1 per square meter, much lower than stocking, but still a decent number.

After surveys, we set up an area to plant new scallops, at ~ 100 per square meter. We hope to dive on the site once more before it gets too cold, and then start again in the spring. Hopefully this will help jump-start a population in Flanders.

Additionally, I saw some really cool things... including a porgy trying to eat leftovers from a whelk feeding,

a whelk eating a newly planted scallop,

and a large northern puffer, which are rare nowadays due to overfishing.

Oh and this mean looking guy.

And tons of cool shells.

All in all, it was a pretty cool day of diving. Not only was I a part of the free release, I was able to see some cool things, like direct predation, swimming scallops (which are impossible to get a photo of, in case you were wondering why there isn't one) and that puffer really made my day.

No comments: