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Report: Chesapeake Bay underwater grasses declined last year

ANNAPOLIS — A new report says that underwater grasses in the Chesapeake Bay have declined by nearly 40 percent.

The Chesapeake Bay Program released a report last week that said a factor in the decline could be attributed to more water flowing from rivers into the bay following record rainfalls.

Underwater grasses are a key indicator of the bay’s health and help to protect wildlife such as crabs. The increase in fresh water can reduce clarity in the bay and block sunlight from reaching the underwater grasses.

The report found that there were may have been as much as 108,000 acres of underwater grasses in 2018. But last year there was an estimated 66,000 acres.

Brooke Landry, chair of the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Workgroup, said in a statement that underwater grasses have actually been building resilience since efforts have been put in place to reduce pollution from flowing into the bay.

But she said “there’s still much more work to do in order to mitigate unpredictable impacts from climate change.”

The Chesapeake Bay Program is a regional partnership of various organizations that are focused on restoring the bay’s health.

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