Seagrasses and Light in the Chesapeake Bay

Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

Seagrasses growing on the seafloor of the Chesapeake Bay rely on light to grow—but, thanks to pollution, that sunlight has become more scarce. Nutrient runoff from fertilizers causes microscopic algae (phytoplankton) to grow rapidly at the surface and, when the algae bloom in large enough numbers, the collection of tiny particles can actually block sunlight from reaching the seafloor. And this is a serious problem: historically, seagrasses grew deeper than two meters underwater, but now they don't grow much deeper than one meter.

In the Chesapeake Bay, scientists at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) are studying phytoplankton and other small particles in the water that block light to learn how to restore seagrasses. In this video, join SERC scientists on their research boat and in their lab, and find out more about seagrass in the Chesapeake at the Ecosystems on the Edge site.