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BayQuest — A Journey of Exploration

Teacher's Guide

Scripts of Activities and Video Transcripts

Please note: These transcripts are taken from conversations Alice Jane and Bob Lippson had with our staff. Some of the sentence constructions are not those found in formal writing or presentations; instead, they represent the actual words these noted experts said. If you use this page with students, you should make them aware of this.

Seagrass Meadows and Weedbeds

Ever wonder . . . Where do blue crabs hide?
We’re looking down, and it’s not clear, we’re seeing green plants underneath our boat. And these are the rooted aquatic beds, or we call them seaweed beds … sort of similar terms for these areas that are extremely important in Chesapeake Bay. Why are they important? Well, if you look closer, you will see all sorts of animals living within these beds. This is where the blue crabs like to come to shed. They have some protection, because, you know, when a crab comes out of its shell, if you’ve ever touched it, you’d realize how soft it is, and how vulnerable it would be to any predator that decided to grab a tasty morsel from that crab. It’s also the place that tiny little fish like to come because they also find protection among the leaves.

Ever wonder . . . Why are weed beds important?
The leaves form a basis for attachment for many of the same, actually, sometimes different organisms that you might find attached on a pier, piling, or a rock. It also is important as the food for the waterfowl that come to the Bay in great flocks each year.

Ever wonder . . . What lives in the weed beds, besides weeds?
I think that the creature that a lot of people are surprised to find out is that seahorses live in the Chesapeake Bay … and, that their habitat, that you will find, is weed beds. And, if you look a the seahorse, and you think about the shape of the seahorse, and you see that curly tail, you can see that it has a function, because this allows them to anchor themselves around a frond, a seabed frond, so that they can stabilize themselves in the water.

Ever wonder . . . Where are all the weed beds?
Unfortunately, the rooted aquatic beds in Chesapeake Bay have really disappeared over the last few years. When the English first came, there were probably ten times more aquatic beds than there are now. The decline has come from the fact that there’s a lot of sediment in the Bay, and when there’s a lot of sediment, and a lot of algae activity from over-fertilization, the amount of sunlight is limited that can pass through the water, and the leaves have to have sunlight. The plants have to have sunlight to photosynthesize. As the Bay got murkier, the weed beds declined.

Ever wonder . . . Why are weed beds called “nurseries”?
They call sea beds and these rooted areas nurseries because that is what they are! This is where the small fish, the small striped bass, the small white perch, the small spot, the small herrings, not only can they find refuge in these weed beds, but they also can find food. They can find food from the rich diversity of life that’s on the plants and in the bottoms. Also, it’s a nursery for small crabs. Again, they find food there and they find protection.

Ever wonder . . . Can you swim in the weeds?
Swimming through a weed bed would not be too much fun. First of all, it would feel pretty slimy because these, these plants are not clean. They’ve got all this algae scum on them. Second of all, a little toe could get too close to a crab and you might be nipped.

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