The Eastern Long Island Sound Eelgrass Restoration Project


Plant collection will involved gathering (by hand) healthy vegetative shoots from eroded edges and/or low density collecting from within well vegetated donor beds.  This method has proven effective in the past for collecting large numbers of shoots with little to no impact to the natural meadows.  Three different donor sites were used to increase genetic diversity.

In total more than 15,000 shoots were transplanted using three different planting methods across 6 sites.  The results of this work include successful establishment of large-scale meadows at Plum and Great Gull Islands as well as smaller-scale plantings at Terry Point, Rocky Point, 67 steps and Horton’s Point.  Three of the four test planting sites were successful which will allow us to expand eelgrass planting in LIS to additional areas. 

The primary method of planting included:

Free Planting – involved a SCUBA diver pushing groups of individual shoots into the bottom by hand.  This system was used in areas dominated by sand and where waves did not “touch” the bottom. 
Rock Planting – involved a SCUBA diver placing groups of 6-10 shoots under existing rocks found at the planting site.  This system was used in areas dominated by rocks, gravel and attached macroalgae.
Sandbag and Disc Planting – involved weaving 12 shoots into a pre-perforated 10 inch diameter burlap disc in the lab or nursery and transporting these to the planting site.  Once at the site a SCUBA diver placed the disk on the bottom and then placed a premade burlap sandbag of the same diameter on top to hold the disk and plants in place. This system was used in areas dominated by sand and in sandy pockets within otherwise rocky areas.

Monitoring of the transplant plots began imediately after planting.  Initial monitoring consisted of qualitative observations of conditions and will include underwater digital photos of the progress of the transplants. See the project field notes for detailed monitoring observations and photos.

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