What — has Cool Green Science suddenly morphed into another blog for foodies?
“From Sausage to Fish” may sound like advertising in the window of a diner catering to carnivores. But in reality, it captures two quite different sensory experiences described by participants in the world’s largest seagrass restoration project, co-led by The Nature Conservancy.
If you are a seafood lover, you really should know about eelgrass. If you’ve ever sunk your teeth into a juicy soft-shell crab sandwich or succulent scallop, your taste buds may have eelgrass to thank.
Back in the 1930s, disease and hurricanes virtually wiped out eelgrass in the Chesapeake Bay and Virginia’s coastal bays and lagoons. And as the eelgrass collapsed, bay scallops completely disappeared, and life suddenly became much more treacherous for blue crabs.
Like myriad other marine animals, these shellfish declined significantly when they lost the food, shelter and nursery services of their seagrass habitat.
Now fast-forward to 2009. Early this summer, around 100 volunteers signed on to collect eelgrass seeds from a restored underwater meadow off the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Through a now decade-long partnership, The Nature Conservancy and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science have sown enough seeds to help eelgrass spread across more than 2,400 acres.
The volunteers donned neoprene wetsuits and snorkeling gear and dove into the bay’s chilly waters. So, among the seagrass set, who’s a gracefully swimming fish and who’s a walking sausage? (Hint: one of them is yours truly.) You can find out when you read the story about this year’s restoration work.
To sweeten the deal, we’ve posted a photo slideshow and a video to nature.org. So you can dive into Virginia’s South Bay and explore a restored underwater eelgrass bed for yourself. And you won’t even have to stuff yourself into a wetsuit!
Daniel White is a senior conservation writer with The Nature Conservancy based in Virginia.
(Image: Volunteer diving for seagrass seeds. Source: Daniel White/TNC.)