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Seagrasses Declining In Local Waters

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Seagrasses are suffering sharp losses in coastal bays on the Eastern Shore, according to a new survey released by Maryland and Virginia officials.

Seagrasses are important because they provide food and shelter for many species, and are an indicator of water quality. Seagrass acreage dropped 35 percent between July 2010 and May 2011, according to the figures released this week. Water quality and high summer temperatures were blamed for the drop, which coincided with decreases in the lower Chesapeake Bay.

The Chincoteague Bay lost the greatest amount with a decline of more than 2,700 acres or about 27 percent of grasses, split nearly equally between Maryland and Virginia.

Assawoman Bay and the Isle of Wight, lost nearly all of their grasses, and the St. Martin River lost its last 1.6 acres.

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