Suffolk County Eelgrass Restoration Project

Methods:  CCE diver conducting rock plantings

Proposed restoration methods will include plantings similar to what has been conducted off the eastern shore of Shelter Island at the Cornelius Point (PE), Shinnecock Bay (SSER) or at St. Thomas Point (LIS) (see our methods section for detailed planting methodology).  All sites include plantings using naturally occurring rocks,"biodegradable rocks" or high-density free planting. Rock plantings are used in LIS and other rocky shorelines and involve placing small groups of plants under existing rocks so that they are held on the bottom until they can take root in the sediment.  Our newest method is an adaptation of the rock planting method, and involves using biodegradable material to anchor plants when natural rocks are not available. High-density free-planting involves planting up to 200 shoots into square meter plots directly into the sediment.  All adult shoot transplants are gathered non-destructively from meadows located in the area that produces large numbers of dislodged shoots that can easily be gathered by trained divers.

Seeding in the SSER will include two different methods.  The first method, called broadcast seeding, involves collecting ripe reproductive shoots from existing meadows (summer) and holding the flowers in flowing seawater tanks at SCMELC until the seeds fall out.  In the fall the seeds are broadcast, by hand, from a small vessel passing over the restoration site.  The other seeding method, called Buoy Deployed Seeding, developed by CCE and used extensively in the Chesapeake Bay region,  involves setting out nets filled with flowers, attached to buoys in a grid over the restoration site.  As the seeds naturally mature they are released from the flowers and fall to the bottom below the buoy.  

Monitoring of the transplant sites will take place in the weeks following planting and involves taking regular digital photos of the plots starting at time 0 and at least monthly throughout the season.  Additional monitoring in the form of multiple 0.10 square meter quadrat counts will be conducted periodically (spring and fall) to assess shoot density as is done for long-term monitoring of extant eelgrass meadows in other parts of the Peconic Estuary.  Monitoring of seeding sites takes place in the spring following restoration.  As the seedlings mature, they can be monitored in the same way that adult shoots are.

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