Eel Grass Restoration

Eelgrass Restoration

We wrapped up a busy summer of eelgrass work over three days of eelgrass harvesting, processing, and transplanting. This resulted in nearly 4,000 adult eelgrass shoots starting a new life at our restoration site just north of Bass Point. Thank you to all the volunteers who helped make this possible, as well as the Town Natural Resources Department and Boston University! 

Divers first harvest adult eelgrass shoots from designated sites in Nantucket Harbor. These sites have been predetermined through our permitting process and are designed to disperse the impacts of harvesting— in another sense, we are avoiding “clear cutting” a healthy eelgrass meadow by thinning it in multiple areas.

The harvested plants are then cleaned; this involves trimming their roots to a suitable length for planting and clearing epiphytic algae (epiphytic refers to algae that grow directly on the eelgrass shoots), which interfere with photosynthesis. Once cleaned, they’re ready for a new home!

The transplanting sees scuba divers planting bundles of five eelgrass shoots in a special pattern along the bottom of the harbor. The planting pattern is part of our eelgrass manager, Noah Singer’s, experimental planting design, which maximizes both the plants’ ability to succeed while making it easier to track their progress. We’ll go into the details of this planting pattern later this year.

While the transplanting was successful and wraps up our eelgrass efforts for the summer, some of our biggest efforts are slated for the fall, with more transplanting in September and our first large-scale seeding attempt sometime in October. 

In the meantime, thank you to all the volunteers and Town staff who’ve helped us so far—it truly takes a village!