BALTIMORE (WJZ) — In 2018, an estimated 91,559 acres of underwater grasses were mapped in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries.
While this acreage is less than the previous year, it is likely that substantially more submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) grew in the Bay than the mapped acreage suggests.
If the acreage of grasses that these unmapped portions of the Bay supported in 2017 is considered, the estimated total for 2018 could be as high as 108,960 acres.
This would be an increase from the previous total, which was the highest amount of underwater grasses ever recorded in the Bay since monitoring began over 30 years ago.
Experts believe it is likely that the actual expanse of underwater grasses in 2018 ranged between 91,559 and 108,960 acres.
The growth and survival of underwater grasses are sensitive to the impacts that extreme weather conditions have on Bay water quality. In the past, underwater grass populations have taken several years to recover from the effects of hurricanes or high-temperature events.
With the record-breaking rainfall observed by most of the Chesapeake region in 2018, experts were concerned over how the grasses would fare.
Experts said that they believe the presence of widgeon grass in the moderately and very salty regions of the Bay to be responsible for the steady underwater grass abundance.