Zostera marina is a seagrass species, commonly known as eelgrass, that is found on both coasts of the United States, as well as in Europe. Unfortunately, Zostera is disappearing all over the place, including right here in New York. This could have devastating impacts on animals that rely on eelgrass as foraging grounds, or, as is the case with scallops, use it as a refuge from predation.
Bay scallops used to support vibrant fisheries in NY, and those populations crashed due to harmful algal blooms. The populations did not recover naturally. One reason is that eelgrass also declined during the brown tide blooms, potentially leading to suitable habitat being a limiting factor to scallop recovery (among other reasons).
Current eelgrass landscape, and potential availability of suitable alternate habitats, will play important roles on growing bay scallop populations moving forward.
This is the story, as seen through the eyes of an aspiring graduate student…
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