Grasses, Grasses Everywhere – Background
The grasses in the schoolyard and grasses that grow underwater are alike in many ways. Both of them require certain elements from their environments in order to survive, and both give back to their environments by providing ecological balance and life-sustaining elements for other organisms.
Like other green plants, the grasses in the schoolyard require light, nutrients, and water in order to survive. They provide habitat and food for small organisms. Grasses give off oxygen and thus contribute to the survival of all organisms on earth. The roots of grasses offer stability to the soil and help prevent erosion. Grass, like other types of vegetation, also works as a natural water filter. As rainwater flows over it, grass catches pollutants and sediment before these harmful elements enter creeks and streams.
Likewise, submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) provides an essential link in the balanced health of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Like grass in the schoolyard, SAV requires light, water, and nutrients to survive. In turn, these grasses produce the oxygen necessary for the survival of underwater organisms. Underwater grasses, such as wild celery, eelgrass, and widgeon grass, provide shelter for fish, shellfish, and many other invertebrates. SAV provides food for waterfowl as well as for the animals it shelters. SAV helps to maintain water quality and clarity, working as a natural filter to trap sediment. SAV roots provide stability to the bottom of the Bay and its tributaries, playing a vital link in preventing erosion and further sediment pollution. SAV absorbs nutrients for its own benefit, and this in turn benefits the underwater environment by helping to keep nutrient levels in check.