Day four – Today I got up early so Lukas and I could get our smaller eelgrass plants out of the saltwater tank and into the fish tanks. I divided the 72 plants into twelve bunches of equal sized plants. Lukas arrived at 6:00 am and we carefully inserted them into the sediments. We won’t start the flushing water until we know the plants are stable and the thread for monitoring growth has been inserted.
After our initial project, we headed to the lab for the big event of the day: The Restoration. The 400 plants we harvested yesterday were removed from the saltwater tank, all equipment was loaded, and again personnel was assigned to vehicles. I went with Dr. Disney in the MDIBL truck carrying the grids, tables, and live material. At Hadley Point, we were met by our band of wonderful volunteers who quickly unloaded and carried all of the equipment to the edge of the ocean. We will have about an hour and a half at this low tide to get this work done.
Grids were placed on the tables and hands immediately began to tie on the eelgrass plants. It is a bit of a trick to tie the twenty plants at the right spot on the plant so that the rhizome lays on the sediments and the blade floats upward. As we are tying, Trillium waters the plants as we want to prevent them from drying out. Once the first five grids are finished, the transplant team heads to meet Captain George. Along with the grids, 100 plants for stapling must also be moved to the boat. The Bowdoin girls are an important part of the transplant team as they will hopefully be using these same techniques in their attempt to restores eelgrass in the Kennebec River. Lukas and Dr. Disney also wade out to the boat.
As the transplant team heads out into the bay, I stay with the volunteers to complete the other five grids that will soon be making their way to “the Bar.” Hanna places our grids temporarily in the ocean to prevent drying. Clean up is swift on this raw day and we create a makeshift waterbed in the back of the truck to transport the grids. Once the team is back, we quickly head to “the Bar.” On our way, the heat is turned on in our vehicles as this day is cold and raw and, crazy as it sounds, hypothermia is a concern.
At “the Bar,” the process is pretty smooth. The five grids are placed in the water and Lukas, Theresa, and Erik, who have the stapling down to a science, quickly get the 100 plants into the sediments. There is a small problem with the length of the biodegradable staples but they immediately come up with a solution. After the planting, the eelgrass dance is performed to appease the aquatic plant god and bring good luck to the project
Cold, but satisfied, we head back to the lab for cleanup and to finish the rest of the day’s details.