Friday, October 17, 2008

Little Ram Test Plantings continued…

This week after getting back from giving a talk at the Restore America’s Estuaries Conference in Providence Rhode Island we were able to get a little field work in.

On the top of the agenda was checking on the status of the Little Ram Island plantings off of Shelter Island. In my previous post I reported on the survival of these rock plantings into September, but I was not in the water that day and wanted to see them first hand. I also wanted to add some fall plantings to provide a better overwinter test as late spring/early summer plantings are not the norm for us.

When we arrived at the buoy and anchored we were welcomed by a curious seal that watched as we donned our gear. I was hoping to see our friend in the water, but despite how many times we have seen seals on the surface in the fall and winter, we have never seen one up close in the water. Its probably better off as we are not supposed to “harass” marine mammals regardless of how innocuous it may seem.

Once in the water, it was clear that the buoy had been moved as nothing looked right and no plants could be found. I eventually swam about 100ft. north and was able to find our plots. Once I moved the blocks and buoy over, Kim and I were able to add some additional plantings and check on the status of those from spring. Ali was on the boat for support.
I must say that I was not overly impressed with what was there (See above photo). It looked like we might have lost a few since September, which would be odd as we usually lose things in July and August, but again I wasn’t in the water last time so I’m not a good judge of what was there.

What is clear is that we added a few hundred more plants to the area to give it a better chance of overwintering and spreading. One thing we will have to watch out for is the growth of the Sargassum. There was absolutely no sign of this species in the spring and now it carpets the rocks we planted under. Surrounding rocks actually have a heavy growth of much taller Sargassum. I don’t think it will be a problem if the eelgrass can keep up, but we will have to watch. Never a dull moment…

I am scheduled to meet with the folks form Shelter Island to discuss future plans for this site, Cornelius Point and Coecles Harbor the first week in November. I am hoping that they will look favorably on our efforts on the Island and allow us to continue.