Monday, July 14, 2008

The Robins Island Plots Continue to do well…

As the water temps increase and vis plummets, regular monitoring visits to our test planting sites begin to show us which are the “good” sites and which are the “bad” sites. If we are lucky we have more good than bad, but during a typical year our “good” sites number less than the bad. If this was as easy as just throwing some plants in the bottom…everyone would be doing it!

Well, fortunately, the Robins Island plots seem to fit nicely, so far, in the “good” category. On July10th Kim and I visited the site to count shoots and take a bunch of pictures. We hadn’t counted during the June visit and I was interested to see how things have faired since May 29th counts.

As we expected, the flowers are mostly spent and many have detached. Kim didn’t count them as they were a mess. However, counts of the vegetative shoots showed an approximately 10% increase since May 29th. This is very good news since in my last post about this site I predicted a loss given that the flowers would soon detach. I should caution that Kim reported that counting was a little difficult, but the increase was consistent across the four plots.

The vis was pretty bad given the bloom in the water and the fact that it was low tide stirring up things a little. We have also had some fairly constant winds for the last few days that seem to have deposited silt and flock on the leaves, especially in the epiphyte fuzz. When kim bent over the tops of the plants as she counted them, the water became clouded with silt and flock.

This is the first time we have observed a fairly heavy coat of epiphytes on the older leaves giving the plants an ugly “fuzzy” look. The base of the plants and the new leaves looked great, however.
It was also interesting to note that there were decent numbers of small to medium sized mud snails in the plots, but most appeared to be concentrated on the bottom apparently eating the remains of dead lady crabs. It was definitely too warm for Lacuna snails and they will not be any help here until the fall, if and when they recruit as larvae. Seeing the fouling makes me want to import a large number of adult mud snails as they usually do a good job of cleaning things up. We still may try that this week.

We are not out of the woods yet with regard to this site or any other test plot site for that matter. It’s not until late August that we will know for sure whether the plots will persist. However, we have learned to many times that there no guarantees.....except in Long Island Sound!
Check back to see how this and other sites fair.


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