Mudflat project updates

At College of the Atlantic, students have been developing protocols for measuring the pH on clamflats, and comparing different meters to see which ones are the most precise, and this fall will measure pH on several flats in Bar Harbor. One student, Katie O’Brien, has also buried clam pre-weighed clam at three different sites in look at rate of weight loss of shells as a measurement of the potential threat to clam growth from low pH on clamflats. Those clams are being collected in October and if the technique shows promise, the study will be expanded next year.
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Eelgrass decline raises questions

Green CrabThe Frenchman Bay Partners’ plan of restoring an additional 228 acres of eelgrass this summer had to be put on hold when it became clear that eelgrass was not coming back in the restoration areas that had been thriving for years. Not only that, many formerly healthy beds that had been growing at least since mapping began in 1996 were also lost this year. MDIBL’s Community Environmental Health Lab (CEHL) had to quickly change gears to begin studies on possible causes of the loss. Scientists and interns looked into the possibilities of “wasting disease” (the pathogen Labyrinthula zosterae) which caused devastation to the plant in the 1930s, nutrient deficiency in the sediment, temperature changes, and invasive green crabs. (more…)

MDI Biological Laboratory needs help mapping eelgrass in Maine

Eelgrass in Maine is now closed to new submissions. To share what you’re seeing in the natural world, you can now create an account at CEHL’s new collaborative nature journal, Anecdata!

Mapping-ButtonScientists, interns, and volunteers at the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory (MDIBL) have been successfully restoring eelgrass in Frenchman Bay with community partners for six years. But this year, the marine plant didn’t come up, and not just in restored areas. Eelgrass throughout the upper bay didn’t seem to get its annual signal to send up shoots, and only rhizomes remain in the mud where eelgrass beds had been.

In order to find out the extent of this event along the coast of Maine, MDIBL is asking the public to look for eelgrass beds and report their locations, or where they missing from places where there had been beds in the past. The lab is asking people to search for the plant as soon as possible, because eelgrass’s growing season usually ends in August. (more…)

Seagrasses In Classes

“Seagrasses in Classes” is an academic year education program in five Mount Desert Island region elementary, and two inland high schools. The program is a school-year extension of the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory’s efforts to restore and study eelgrass (Zostera marina) beds in northern Frenchman Bay. Eelgrass is a native seagrass that grows underwater in thick beds just below low tide in sheltered coastal areas and in river estuaries. Eelgrass is an essential component of the coastal marine ecosystem. It offers protection to small fish and shellfish and buffers the ocean from intrusions of sediment and pollution. Scientists and interns affiliated with MDIBL’s Community Environmental Health Laboratory have established a restoration site near Hadley Point in Bar Harbor, and are studying the efficacy of different methods of eelgrass replanting, the broadcast of eelgrass seeds by currents, and the population genetics of eelgrass communities.

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