PORTLAND, Maine – The MDI Biological Laboratory in Bar Harbor is asking citizen scientists for help figuring out why eelgrass is disappearing from coastal Maine.
But people don’t have to wander the coastline and gather samples; MDI Senior Staff Scientist Jane Disney says they can go to the citizen science website anecdata.org and put a green marker where they’ve seen eelgrass recently, or a red one where there used to be eelgrass.
“So we can look at the distribution of these green and red markers up and down the coast, and get an idea of where there might be some problems,” Disney says, “and what the similarities to those areas might be in terms of local land use, concentrations of different fishing practices or different water quality variables.”
Eelgrass helps improve water quality and prevent beach erosion; and it gives invertebrates and some juvenile fish a place to live. Those include commercial species like cod, lobster, hake, clams and mussels. It also collects carbon – which mitigates some of the effects of climate change in the oceans.