The Underwater Meadows of the Crescent City HarborLatest update June 14, 2019 Started on December 13, 2018
When a tsunami rocked the Crescent City Harbor in 2011, the aftermath included the displacement of large swaths of underwater meadows, or eelgrass beds. These underwater meadows, which are important to ocean habitats, are now rebounding.
We are still currently undergoing preliminary work to receive our Trident (Underwater ROV). Once we have successfully completed the work, we will start to schedule some expeditions with our new Trident! We are really excited to start seeing the underwater world within our Harbor from a different angle! Stay tuned for more!
What is Eelgrass?
Extensive meadows of ¼ inch wide, 3 feet long blades of eelgrass provides a hotspot for a healthy ecosystem under the ocean’s surface. Not only does it provide oxygen and natural filtration to the surrounding waters, but the eelgrass we have in the Crescent City Harbor provides spawning habitat for many species that utilize our harbor. The eelgrass here could be considered a keystone species in the sense that it draws in a plethora of species to create a complicated food web, while providing a refuge for other species trying to escape from larger predators.
Eelgrass History within the Crescent City HarborThe Crescent City Harbor sustained large impacts from a tsunami that hit in 2011. The tsunami prompted the need for dredging and rehabilitation of in-water infrastructure (Gilkerson 2018). Due to the need for dredging, the harbor needed to come up with an alternative plan to try and conserve the eelgrass population that existed within the harbor. The Crescent City harbor is now known as the poster child for our efforts in starting and conserving a mitigation site near the harbor. Not only was the harbor able to save the eelgrass population in the harbor, we have more eelgrass than we could ask for. The eelgrass that was harvested in the harbor is now successfully growing back in spots even after all dredging has been complete for some time now.
How We Plan to IntegrateAs a member of the Del Norte Marine Protected Areas Collaborative (DNMPAC), Del Norte Crescent City Harbor District plans to use a Trident mini-ROV to monitor the eelgrass within our harbor as well as the habitat utilization of the eelgrass by herring to better understand their symbiotic relationship. For the majority of our mini-ROV deployments, we will seek to monitor eelgrass productivity via the substantial growth patterns in comparison to previous measurements and surveys. We also plan to analyze the productivity of the eelgrass based on how the herring populations are able to utilize the eelgrass meadows within the harbor. That will tell us just how much of a keystone species our eelgrass really is. We look forward to seeing what results these expeditions will bring to us!
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