A recent assessment of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) monitoring programs revealed a globaldecline in the underwater plants’ abundance even though they are recognized worldwide for their many important ecological functionssuch as providing essential habitat for many commercially important species of fish, shellfish, andinvertebrates. North Carolina has the third largest total area of SAV between Maine and Texas, but thestatus and trends of this resource are largely unknown.
Researchers from the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science–along with their counterparts fromNorth Carolina State University, East Carolina University, and the state’s Department of Natural Resources–evaluated thefeasibility of video, diver, remote sensing, and acoustic techniques. They pulled their findings into acomprehensive recommendation for a statewide SAV monitoring program.
In late September, the group will submit a finalreport to the state’s Division of Marine Fisheries summarizing the three-year-long study, includingdetails of their recommendation: a monitoring program using a multi-tool, sentinel site approach. Theserecommendations will be evaluated by state resource managers and implemented, based on fundingavailability.