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...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wow, that was refreshing

Well, it was a long winter. Maybe not any longer than usual, but waiting to get back in the water seemed to take longer than it has in years past. It might be because I've been feeling unproductive (as sometimes happens when I'm stir crazy in the lab, waiting for a nice day to get outside). Or maybe its because a couple of labmates of mine, Chuck Wall and Jamie Brisbin have been in the water since January. Whatever the reason, yesterday, April 27th, could not have come early enough. It's pretty incredible diving early in the season - cold, relatively clear water, and although not a lot of activity, those organisms that are active are still pretty slow and easy to observe and photograph (pictures to follow). I got to try out my new semi-dry suit by Bare, and my new fins with spring straps! which I purchased at Treasure Cove Divers in New Jersey. First, the suit works great, but semi-dry is kind of a misnomer. I imagine its supposed to let less water in through tighter seals, however, it still lets water in and you still get wet. But I was still very pleased with the suit and while cold (although at 11C, I suppose not terribly cold), I was fairly comfortable. I also brought my new Sea and Sea DX-1G camera out in the field in New York for the first time, and the results are mixed. I am pleased with my photos when I was in Fiji, but that was relatively clear water. It also doesn't help that I am only an amateur photographer, and not necessarily even a good one at that, but I hope to get yesterdays photos cleaned up and posted here soon.
As for the actual purpose of the expedition, SCALLOPS! Our free planting area in Hallock Bay has once again had great success in overwitnering. Additionally, we have experienced high survival through their 2nd (!) winter of scallops planted in 2008, to the tune of 8-10 mer square meter! That is pretty incredible, since the mantra is that most scallops don't survive their second winter. We will keep monitoring these guys to see if they survive through spawning, but it was pretty unexpected and pretty encouraging. As for those scallops planted last winter, we have again experienced great success in survival and will now continue to monitor this site every 2 weeks until August. Scallops on the long lines also survived at very high rates AND have even showed some remarkable growth this early in the season. All in all, a very nice day for diving and some very good results.

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