If you were at Miracle Beach Park over the weekend, you may have noticed a dive boat and divers working just offshore.
The divers were working on transplanting subtidal eelgrass in barren areas off of the park. The project is part of a larger coastal restoration project being led by the Comox Valley Project Watershed.
Recently, Project Watershed completed a coastal mapping inventory of 120 kilometres of coastline, from the Oyster River estuary to the Annie Creek watershed.
The objective of this work was to assess changes in distribution of nearshore eelgrass, saltmarsh and kelp habitats in order to prioritize sites for restoration. It was determined that the subtidal area off of Miracle Beach Park was a good candidate for an eelgrass restoration project. This site was prioritized due to the close proximity of healthy eelgrass beds, where donor stock could be harvested from, as well as the fact that the area already has some protection, due to the adjacent upland park.
Divers harvested eelgrass shoots from lush beds near the restoration site. The eelgrass was then transported via boat to the Oyster River/Pacific Playgrounds marina where volunteers will prepare the shoots with anchors for the divers to transplant.
A total transplant of 1,000 m2 is planned, dived into five 200 m2 plots. Post-transplant, the eelgrass team will be returning to the site to monitor the success of the transplanted areas. Marker floats attached to lead lines will be left in place to identify the transplant areas.
For more information check the Project Watershed website: www.projectwatershed.ca