SOUTHWEST HARBOR – A native grass vital to Maine’s fisheries is disappearing, leaving scientists to investigate.
Scientists are gathering in Southwest Harbor to investigate eelgrass that are going missing in the state’s waters.
“Unlike other areas around Frenchman Bay where we had eelgrass loss, this area might hold the key to why eelgrass is resilient here,” said Dr.Jane Disney, director of education at MDI Laboratory.
Eelgrass is known to improve water quality which protects habitats for fish. An increase in pollution would lead to a decrease in the fish population and in local jobs.
“Maybe these near-shore plants can sequest enough carbon to offset ocean acidification. We’re finding as much as there ever was, which is what is important,” said Disney. “That may confer some protection to our mussels and clams which may be affect by acidifying conditions, so I eelgrass is helping a lot of commercial fisheries,” she said.
According to Disney, Maine’s water quality is great in comparison to other states, some may wonder what is causing eelgrass to go missing. Community are encouraged if they see eelgrass, they should report it on an online data sharing website. Anecdata.org allows for community scientists to start their own projects and compare notes, making sure awareness is widely spread.
“We realized that we need to a way to crowd source information about eelgrass across the state and we have accessed the various online sources that existed and there were a lot of tools where a species was but not about where it wasn’t,” said Duncan Bailey, a software developer for MDI.
“We’re hoping people will use anecdata.org to tell us where they see it or where they are no longer seeing it,” said Disney.