A male blue crab swims in the redhead grasses near Swan Point in Round Bay.

Beneath the Surface

Photographer Jay Fleming dives deep on underwater Bay grasses

Photographer Jay Fleming dives deep on underwater Bay grasses

Over years of steady decline, the Chesapeake Bay has lost roughly 80 percent of its submerged aquatic vegetation. Those underwater grasses add oxygen to the water, improve water clarity by filtering silt, shelter fish and crabs, and provide food for waterfowl while reducing shoreline erosion due to wave action. Their prevalence is a key indicator of Chesapeake Bay health. In 2018, the federal Chesapeake Bay Program reported that underwater grasses covered more than 100,000 acres of the Bay for the first time in more than a decade of monitoring, a resurgence scientists link to the reduction of harmful nutrients in the Bay. This spring, reports of extraordinary grass growth and water clarity in some upper Bay rivers came into CBM. Indefatigable photographer/environmentalist/adventurer Jay Fleming ventured out and into the Severn River to witness and record the phenomenon. Could this be a sign of success and reason for optimism?

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