Eelgrass Health Assessment & Restoration

Nantucket Island, located 30 miles off the coast of Cape Cod, supports over 2,000 acres of eelgrass that serve as essential habitat to a number of different species including the last commercially viable “wild” bay scallop fishery in the U.S.  The abundance of eelgrass, however, has diminished from historic levels in some areas, potentially threatening the future ecology and economy of this system.  The loss in size and density of eelgrass in the Nantucket is believed to be due to an increase in nutrient loading to the system.  Our research team is currently assessing the health of eelgrass meadows in Nantucket Harbor influenced by high nitrogen loadings by collecting information on various plant and environmental parameters as well as identifying mechanisms of declines.  We are also performing a small-scale restoration in Monomoy, an area of the harbor that is currently unaffected by eutrophication.