Monday, May 19, 2008

Other LIS sites to report on...

I didn’t get a chance to finish reporting on the other two sites we visited during our May 14th Long Island Sound dive trip so here you go. Given the high cost of fuel, we always try and hit as many sites as we can on the same day and these are the last two.

Mulford Point is a site that we always check for a number of reasons. This is a large meadow where we often collect naturally uprooted shoots for use as transplants in our restoration work. Luckily, we don’t have to always have to go by boat as there is convenient land access where we can get a truck relatively close to shore and unload our gear.

Since Steve and Kim went in, I didn’t get a look at this site first hand, but I was happy that they reported that there were lots of loose shoots at the inshore edge of both the inner and outer bands of grass. We will be scheduling a collection date to coincide with plantings at one of our restoration sites, most likely Caumsett State Park in Huntington.

Later in the season (August) Steve and Kim will visit 6 permanent monitoring stations established at Mulford to track trends in shoot density and percent cover. This work is essential in helping us understand how LIS meadows function and it also helps us make sure that we are not impacting the donor site through our collection process.

It was also interesting to note that Steve found several plants that were heavily coated with snail eggs. The apparent culprit was the Threeline Mudsnail/New England Dog Whelk (Ilyanassa trivittata) found on the plants, but the eggs sure looked like they came from Eastern Mudsnails. This is the only site where we have observed the Dog Whelks, although they must occur at other sites. We usually see them rooting for food around the base of the shoots. I am always surprised at how fast they move and how aggressive they appear to be. Can the word “aggressive” ever be used to describe a snail?

Our final stop on this trip was a visit to our test plantings at Great Gull Island, just east of Plum Island. We planted shoots gathered from Fishers Island here a couple years ago and are happy to report that the plants are thriving. The water is deep and the wave energy is high, but the plants have really filled in despite the small number of shoots that were originally planted. As is typical for this site, seals were seen swimming at the surface, but we didn’t see any during our dive. Some day I hope to see them face to face…


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