Learning the importance of eelgrass – yet again

Reading in the newest Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission News, I have learned yet again of the immense importance of eelgrass.   NOAA, the Suquamish Tribe, Puget Sound Partnership, Elliott Bay Trustee Council, Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have recently restored eelgrass zostera marina in a federal Superfund cleanup site that was a former creosote plant.  Quoting the article written for the NWIFC News by Tiffany Royal, it is explained that “eelgrass is recognized as one of the most valuable ecosystem components of Puget Sound.”  Having this restoration succeed furthers the Partnership’s goal of increasing eelgrass habitat by 20% over the current baseline by year 2020.  Here’s how zostera marina, this wonderful aquatic plant contributes:

  • True flowering plant
  • Eelgrass meadows have high primary production rates and are the base of numerous food webs.
  • Roots and rhizomes stabilize the seabed.
  • Meadows contribute to oxygen levels, both above and below the seabed.
  • Used for foraging, spawning, rearing, and as migration corridors by many fish and invertebrate species, marine mammals and birds.
  • Isolates carbon, reducing the effects of ocean acidification.

The restoration site is being monitored by divers and a close watch will be kept on the new meadow for the next 5 years.  It is located just outside Eagle Harbor on Bainbridge Island at the site of the former Milwaukee Dock, historically the Wyckoff creosote plant.  The salmon recovery coordinator for the Suquamish Tribe, Tom Ostrom, believes it likely to succeed due to the conformation of the seabed in the area.  It is for not only salmon restoration, but for the entire web of life that we hold out sincere hopes for a complete success!  CONGRATULATIONS all around!

eelgrass heart