Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV)

SAV is an integral part of the Chesapeake’s ecosystem providing habitat for shellfish and fish, food for waterfowl and marsh mammals and improved bay water quality. Since the early 1970s there has been a documented decline in SAV throughout the Bay, however, recent studies suggest the grasses are beginning to recover. Restoring SAV to the Chesapeake Bay is essential to the recovery of the Bay. SAV Research at Otter Point Creek (OPC) focuses on new methods to restore SAV. Effects of species diversity on restoration success, types of starter plants used, and quantifying growth and reproduction rates of various species used for restoration are some of the OPC projects.

Researchers hope to:

  1. determine the effect of plant density and size on restoration success;
  2. identify and quantify the function of different species as it pertains to improving water clarity, nutrient uptake and overall water quality; and
  3. track the distribution and plant health at various sites throughout the marsh to explore the relationship between water quality and plant success.

The goal is to discover new and better ways to restore SAV to aquatic systems. Additional efforts include exploring propagation protocol for various species, examining growth and reproduction rates in a greenhouse and studying mechanisms for nutrient uptake. SAV research is coordinated by the Reserve Research Coordinator with help from OPC volunteers, interns and staff. This research will help to improve the management and restoration of coastal systems.


3/2009 – As of 2007 we have been monitoring five locations for SAV, two in the Bush River and three in Otter Point Creek. Monitoring occurs every two months from June to October and we are checking species presence, percent cover, and volume displaced at five points along each transect location.

Recent Findings:

Currently, predominant SAV species found at OPC are hydrilla, Hydrilla verticillata, and eurasian watermilfoil, Myriophyllum spicatum, both non-native species; however, thanks to restoration efforts as well as native stocks, we are starting to see native species such as wild celery, Vallisneria americana, and coontail, Ceratophyllum demersum, return to OPC.

Keep an eye out for more information after we collect 2009 SAV data!