(Courtesy of Jerry Prezioso)
(Zostera marina)

Only distantly related to the more familiar grasses we see on land, eelgrass is one of only approximately 50 species of vascular plants that is able to live fully submerged in seawater. It is the only sea grass that we find in Narragansett Bay. Few animals actually consume eelgrass. Rather, eelgrass beds are rich biological communities that many species of fish use as nurseries. The eelgrass serves as a substrate on which micro- and macroalgae grow. Many species of invertebrates graze on these photosynthetic organisms, and they then become food for larger animals such as small fish. The young fish find abundant food and a safe refuge in the eelgrass beds. Thus numerous healthy sea grass beds are essential to the maintenance of healthy fisheries. Our estuary has suffered the loss of significant areas of eelgrass. Recently, a small army of concerned citizens began a replanting effort. Check out this link (http://www.savebay.org/bayissues/eelgrass.htm) to learn more about this effort.

Return to Plants