|Marine eelgrass meadow
||Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County
SubSystem: Marine Subtidal
State Rarity Rank:
Global Rarity Rank:
Did you know?
Seagrass beds are some of the most productive communities on earth. In New York, eelgrass provides critical habitat for a surprising variety of fascinating marine creatures. Seahorses, puffer fish, bay scallops, hard clams, lobster, starfish, flounder, shrimp, hermit crabs, spider crabs, skates, squid, horseshoe crabs, sea turtles, and many more species spend at least part of their lives within these protective marine eelgrass meadows (NYS Seagrass Task Force 2009, Orth 2006).
|State Ranking Justification||
There are estimated to be over 21,000 acres of eelgrass in New York; there may be as many as 30 extant occurrences of marine eelgrass meadow statewide. The few documented occurrences of this community have good viability and are somewhat protected in the waters adjacent to public or private conservation land. The community is restricted to the ocean surrounding Long Island in the North Atlantic Coast ecoregion; it is found in the Peconic Estuary, Long Island Sound, and the South Shore Estuary. The aerial extent and ecological integrity of this community is very rapidly to severely declining; an estimated 90% of New York's eelgrass meadows have been lost between 1930 and the present. Threats to the community include decreased water quality, increased nutrient inputs, physical disturbance from fishing and shellfishing gear, and harmful algal blooms.
The aerial extent and ecological integrity of this community is very rapidly to severely declining. While historical seagrass acreage in New York has not been documented, historical photography and records indicate that there may have been 200,000 acres in 1930; today, only 21,803 acres remain. This is due, in part, to effects from historical seagrass wasting disease and current increased nutrient loading, decreased water quality and clarity, harmful phytoplankton blooms, habitat degradation, and fishing and boating disturbances (New York State Seagrass Task Force 2009).
Prior to the 1930s, marine eelgrass meadows in the waters surrounding New York are assumed to have been relatively extensive (>200,000 acres) and stable (New York State Seagrass Task Force 2009).