Submerged Aquatic Grass Restoration

SAV, or Submerged Aquatic Vegetation, is rooted vegetation that grows under water in shallow zones where light penetrates. These areas are important habitats for fish and molting crabs. They also contribute to reduction of shoreline erosion and the trapping of sediments and nutrients from overlying waters, which leads to improved water quality and clarity. Thus, restoration of SAV is a key component in improving the overall health of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

Vallisinaria americana,Wild celery
Upper Bay (0 to 5 psu)
Potomageton perfoliatus,Redhead grass
Mid-Bay ( 5 to 18 psu)
 Zostera marina, Eel grass
Lower Bay (18 to 35 psu)












Historically, the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries supported a multi-specific SAV community. A decline in SAV populations began in the 1960s and continued through the next two decades. Degrading water quality in the Chesapeake Bay has been reported as the primary cause of this decline.

Above, Solomons Is., on the left with aerial view of SAV in 1950. Aerial view on right from 1979 showing diappearance of SAV.

Specifically, the overabundance of nutrients from human activities has resulted in the degradation of water quality.

(Above) HPL pond nutrient enrichment experiments show the effect of nutrient levels on water clarity thus impacting SAV growth.

Following this dramatic decline, SAV populations in the Chesapeake Bay have increased since the mid-1980s. The resurgence of SAV is attributed to increased water clarity and the reduction of terrestrial nutrient inputs, largely as a result of stricter regulations on shoreline development, progressive agricultural techniques and more stringent wastewater treatment regulations. Unfortunately, both the amount of grasses and the number of species remain depressed. In the mid to upper parts of the Bay, species diversity is a major component of a healthy viable ecosystem.











The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Horn Point Laboratory (HPL) and its partners have been conducting restoration activities throughout the Chesapeake Bay for several years, in order to restore abundance and species diversity of SAV. The support and participation of local organizations is vital to the success of these projects. Through citizen outreach and education, HPL hopes to restore and maintain healthy, self-sufficient grass beds.

Getting the public in involved in planting SAV for restoration efforts