H-MORRO BAY

Aug 21, 2013 6:23 PM by Keli Moore, KSBY News

Divers plant eelgrass in Morro Bay

An underwater meadow in Morro Bay is getting some help. Eelgrass, which has declined dramatically in the past six years, is being moved from one part of the bay to another.

"It's a flowering grass that lives under the water, and fish and invertebrates all live there, and it's very important the health of the estuary in general," said Adrienne Harris, Morro Bay National Estuary Program.

Volunteer divers are gathering eelgrass from the bay floor, taking it ashore where it's bundled, then taking those bundles into the back bay.

Harris says the back bay lacks this vital component to our ecosystem.

"Once we plant some, it will grow and expand where historically we had eelgrass," she said.

In 2007, there were roughly 344 acres of eelgrass in the harbor. Today, fewer than 20 acres remain.

"What we've been seeing impact the eelgrass is not from the dredging project," Harris said.

She says there are a number of causes, including disease and runoff that ends up in the harbor.

"It needs a lot of light, so if we have a lot of sediment coming down from the watershed making it turn in the water, not enough light is penetrating," she said.

The Morro Bay Eelgrass Recovery Program was created last year and will continue for a total of five years. The program is funded by local organizations and funds from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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