Eelgrass has now, in 2007, almost totally disappeared from Little Bay and the Piscataqua River. Despite these critical losses in mid-estuary, eelgrass distribution in the Great Bay Estuary (GBE) as a whole between 2006 and 2007 experienced an overall loss of 3% in area because of the areal dominance of Great Bay itself, where most of the eelgrass that remains in the GBE is found. Eelgrass area in Great Bay itself remained about the same between 2006 and 2007, with an increase in biomass due to some of the remaining beds becoming more dense. However, Little Bay and the Piscataqua River experienced the loss of most of their remaining eelgrass between 2006 and 2007 (99% loss); only a few very small beds survive. The beds of ruppia in the Bellamy, Oyster and upper Piscataqua Rivers, diminished from 2005 to 2006, were gone in 2007 except for one large bed in the Bellamy River. The Portsmouth Harbor – Little Harbor area experienced a decrease in eelgrass area (11%) between 2006 and 2007. All of the Great Bay Estuary has severely decreased eelgrass beds compared to historic distributions. The ongoing eelgrass decline in Little Bay and the Piscataqua River, now best characterized as a nearly complete loss of eelgrass, continues to be a major concern; total loss of eelgrass from an area greatly diminishes the potential for natural recovery of beds.
Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership
Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership, Durham, NH
Short, Frederick T., "Eelgrass Distribution in the Great Bay Estuary 2007" (2008). PREP Reports & Publications. 86.