Maryland Sea Grant

Welcome to Maryland Sea Grant! Your guide to marine research, education, and the Chesapeake region. Visit our website to learn more about our research, our magazine Chesapeake Quarterly, and much more. Read our Comments Policy:

Founded in 1977, Maryland Sea Grant links cutting-edge marine research to a broad community of decision-makers, teachers, watershed groups, seafood processors, and many more. Through a competitive grants program, we fund a range of marine research, especially focused on the Chesapeake Bay. Through our partnership with University of Maryland Extension, Maryland Sea Grant provides on-the-ground technical assistance to a broad range of stakeholders. We use reports, websites, and other outreach tools to synthesize and interpret complex environmental issues. Our signature magazine, Chesapeake Quarterly, and our award-winning documentaries tell stories of scientists and others who study, protect, or work on the Chesapeake Bay. Maryland Sea Grant is headquartered in College Park, MD, and administered by the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. It forms part of a network of Sea Grant Colleges around the country supported jointly by state funds and by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Mission: Through research, outreach and education programs, Maryland Sea Grant provides unbiased, science-based information to enhance the sustainable use and conservation of coastal and ocean resources to benefit communities, the economy, and the environment.

🐸 The gray treefrog (Hyla versicolor) is a common species of frog in the Eastern U.S. Although its common name references its gray color, it can actually change its color from gray to green or brown depending on its environment or activity. ⠀

🌳 Forests, swamps, farmland, and backyards are some common places to find gray tree frogs.⠀

🎤 You can also hear them when they emit a call to find a mate or establish a breeding territory. The call is usually heard after dusk. ⠀

❄️ When hibernating in colder months the gray treefrog can produce glycerol which lowers the freezing point of its body fluids. The glycerol is changed to glucose and circulated through the frog's cells where it acts like antifreeze, preventing ice crystals from forming in the cells!

📸: Courtesy of Matthew Amey
Text: Logan Bilbrough / MDSG⠀

Happy #WatershedWednesday! Stay tuned for a special digital version of our magazine, Chesapeake Quarterly, which will focus on groundwater.⠀

Often out of sight, out of mind, get to know the water beneath your feet!

Pictured: A freshwater depression on Assateague Island in Maryland⠀

📸: Lisa Tossey / MDSG

Job alert! We are seeking a Legal Fellow with Maryland Agriculture Law Education Initiative to provide legal research, writing, and educational assistance for our institutions.

This is an excellent opportunity to gain experience with a variety of legal, policy, and regulatory matters concerning aquaculture, environmental compliance, and land use policy, including the impacts of sea-level rise on coastal communities and governmental responses to the changing landscape.

The Legal Fellow will do the majority of the work at an office located at the University of Maryland’s Wye Research Center in Queenstown, Maryland; however, in-state travel to meetings and presentations as well as travel within the Delmarva area may be required. Candidates will ideally begin the first week of September.

Deadline to apply: July 17

Full details here >>

Has your building stood vacant due to COVID-19 closures? It's important to remember that reduced water use can lead to stagnant water inside your plumbing, potentially making water unsafe to drink or use for personal or commercial purposes.

Check out this infographic for more information!

University of Maryland Extension

Today is #WorldSeaTurtleDay - a day that highlights sea turtles, their importance, and the issues they face. ⠀

June 16 was chosen to honor the birthday of Dr. Archie Carr, who is regarded as the “father of sea turtle biology” for his dedication to their research and conservation. ⠀

Sea turtles are valuable to marine ecosystems because they help maintain healthy seagrass beds and coral reefs, which are important habitats for many species. ⠀

There are seven species of sea turtles worldwide. Six of those can be found in U.S. waters - all of which are listed and protected under the Endangered Species Act.⠀

One of the largest threats to sea turtles is pollution. Plastic bags in the water can be mistaken for jellyfish, a favorite food of several species who may ingest the bags. Entanglement in marine debris is another issue in the water, while litter on the beach can create obstacles for turtle hatchlings on land trying to reach the ocean.⠀

What can you do to celebrate sea turtles today - and every day? Help spread awareness about these amazing marine reptiles, reduce consumption of single-use plastics and plastic bags, and help keep our beaches and waterways clean.⠀

Pictured: Rehabilitated juvenile Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles being released on Assateague Island in Maryland by the National Aquarium on World Sea Turtle Day in 2016. ⠀

📸: Lisa Tossey / MDSG⠀
Text: Logan Bilbrough / MDSG @ Assateague Island National Seashore

Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum

In case you missed it - the Bernie Fowler “Sneaker Index” streamed live for first time this weekend!

See it here & find out what this year’s measurement was >>

Join us for this year's socially distant, virtual Wade In with Bernie Fowler! He got a bit more wet than usual, but thanks to Majority Leader Steny Hoyer we got our reading :)
The Calvert Recorder Chesapeake Biological Laboratory Patuxent Environmental and Aquatic Research Laboratory - PEARL Maryland Department of Planning Maryland Historical Trust SMECO
#chesapeake #patuxent #patuxentriver #wadein #berniefowler #cleanwater #cleanriver #environment #community #tradition #maryland #marylandstrong #jeftpat #jeffersonpattersonpark #jeffersonpatterson #jppm

#MDSGBackyardEcology: Swamp milkweed leaf beetle (Labidomera clivicollis)

🦋 We know butterflies depend on milkweed, but did you know there’s another insect that couldn’t live without it? Meet the swamp milkweed leaf beetle (Labidomera clivicollis)! ⠀

🌿 This beetle lays its eggs in spring on the underside of the leaves of common milkweed and swamp milkweed, frequently found in wetlands as well as on roadsides, in residential gardens, and alongside fields.⠀

🌱 Later, the beetles depend on these plants for food, but they rarely harm their host plant with their noshing, because there are typically only a few on a one plant at a time. ⠀

🐞 Though they resemble lady beetles or lady bugs, they’re actually from a different family—Chrysomelidae, commonly known as leaf beetles. ⠀

🎞: Wendy Mitman Clarke / MDSG⠀
#MDSGBackyardEcology #MacroMonday

New on the blog!

All Things Oyster: Whether studying their genomes or helping farmers grow them, Brittany Wolfe is building a career on oysters with Patuxent Environmental and Aquatic Research Laboratory - PEARL & University of Maryland Extension

This weekend!

How far can you wade in to the Chesapeake Bay before your white sneakers disappear? This "Sneaker Index" is an informal way to asses a river’s clarity, measured by Bernie Fowler in the Patuxent River every year.
The 33rd annual event will be live streamed this Sunday, June 14, at 1 p.m. here:

It’s #FishyFriday! Our latest blog post on American Eels takes a look at the impacts of dams, habitat loss, and restocking efforts:

The Eastern Ratsnake (Pantherophis alleghaniensis) is a common species of snake found throughout Maryland and the Eastern U.S. ⠀

Also commonly called the black rat snake, it has shiny black scales, a creamy white chin, and an irregular black and white checkerboard pattern on its belly.⠀

They can reach lengths up to 7 feet and are non-venomous, but they are known to rattle their tails to fool other animals into believing that they are.⠀

Don’t forget to look up! These snakes excel in climbing and spend a lot of time in trees (see pic 3) and can sometimes also be found in the rafters of outbuildings. They are beneficial visitors to yards and on farms, providing natural rodent control.⠀

📸 1 & 2: In Frederick, Maryland, J. Adam Frederick / MDSG⠀
📸 3: In Berlin, Maryland, Courtesy of Matthew Amey⠀
#MDSGBackyardEcology @ Maryland

Happy #TributaryTuesday! The mighty Choptank River has been a fundamental part of Maryland's Eastern Shore for centuries. Did you know it's the longest river on the Delmarva Peninsula?⠀

The banks of the Choptank in Dorchester and Caroline Counties once served as a guide to Harriet Tubman and other enslaved persons in their journey north along the Underground Railroad.⠀

Today, the Choptank continues to support the Eastern Shore, serving as spawning grounds for river herring and striped bass, and supports vital commercial fisheries. The river is also home to many private oyster aquaculture leases where oysters serve as habitat and filter water until they're eventually harvested for a delicious meal. ⠀

In the Choptank, we're reminded of our history, our future, and the importance of our continued dedication towards progress. ⠀

Pictured: A view of the Choptank River from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Horn Point Laboratory, which sits on over 800 acres along the river’s banks. ⠀

📸 & Text: Shannon Hood / MDSG University of Maryland Extension

Loss of habitat due to damming of rivers has contributed to steep population declines of American eels. According to the USFWS, only 12 percent of Mid-Atlantic waterways are available before eels reach a dam.

We take a look at these challenges in the latest blog post in our series on eels: American Eels: Dams, habitat loss, and restocking

🌊 Did you know? In 2003, the Maryland Geological Survey reported that based on analysis of aerial photos captured from 1988 to 1995, Maryland’s tidal shoreline, including the Chesapeake Bay, its tributaries, the Coastal Bays, and Atlantic coast, measured 7,719 miles! ⠀

🐚 Only about 32 miles of that is open ocean coastline, where Ocean City, and Assateague Island State Park and National Seashore (pictured here this morning) border the Atlantic Ocean. ⠀⠀
🐟 But all of our waterways are connected, and our research and work within the Chesapeake Bay and Maryland Coastal Bays directly impact our global ocean! ⠀⠀
🌎 You can celebrate World Ocean Day wherever you are in many simple ways today - here are just a few:⠀⠀
✔️Do a 15 minute litter clean-up in your neighborhood or favorite park to keep trash from washing into local waterways⠀⠀
✔️Plan a rain garden for your yard to keep stormwater runoff from leaving your property⠀⠀
✔️Avoid single-use plastics⠀⠀
✔️Share inspiring ocean stories and helpful tips on your own social platforms - start by commenting below with your own favorite ideas!⠀

📸: Lisa Tossey / MDSG⠀⠀

“When the ivy has found its tower, when the delicate creeper has found its strong wall, we know how the parasite plants grow and prosper.”
- Anthony Trollope⠀

English ivy (Hedera helix) was introduced to the U.S. in the early 1700s by European colonists.⠀

It is still widely sold and planted as a low maintenance groundcover due to its evergreen leaves and spreading nature. ⠀

However, it is highly invasive, outcompeting all vegetation in the area. Its vines also climb trees and gradually weakens them by enveloping limbs, adding weight and blocking light. ⠀

Ask you local garden center for good native groundcover and climbing vine alternatives! ⠀

📸: Lisa Tossey / MDSG⠀
#MDSGBackyardEcology #invasivespecies

🐦 We’re taking part in today’s #PostaBird Challenge for #BlackBirdersWeek! ⠀

🐦 Here are a couple of backyard birds our team have spotted here in Maryland: a Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) in Garrett Park followed by an Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) in Chestertown.⠀

Catbird 🎞: Fredrika Moser / MDSG⠀
Bluebird 🎞: Wendy Clarke / MDSG⠀

#BlackInNature #MDSGBackyardEcology

Did you know today is the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season? Great tips here on how to be prepared >>

Hurricane season starts June 1. During the COVID-19 pandemic, give yourself more time than usual to prepare your emergency food, water, and medical supplies. Learn more:

Closing out the beautiful weekend with a view of our Coastal Bays 🌅 What’s your favorite Maryland waterway? ⠀

🎞: Lisa Tossey / MDSG

Inching, inching, slowly inching;⠀
Inchworm loopingly inching along.⠀
Measuring, measuring, carefully measuring;⠀
Careful to measure no measurement wrong.⠀

Reaching, reaching, slowly reaching;⠀
Front-end reachingly seeking a hold.⠀
Following, following, other-end following;⠀
Follow the leader unerringly bold.⠀ ⠀

Onward, onward--ever onward;⠀
Inchworm tirelessly inching away.⠀
Answer me, answer me, measure worm, answer me,⠀
How many inches have you inched today?⠀

- William Robinson (2005)

What have you spotted in your backyard recently? ⠀

🎞: Lisa Tossey / MDSG⠀

Happy #FishyFriday! Our latest blog takes a look at how the Maryland seafood industry is working to connect directly with home cooks >>

🌷 Can you see how the tulip tree - or tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) - got its name? ⠀

🌳The tulip poplar is actually more closely related to a magnolia than either a tulip or a poplar! ⠀

✨ It is one of the tallest of the native American hardwoods and is blooming in Maryland now - just look for these distinctive green, yellow, and orange flowers! ⠀

📸: Lisa Tossey / MDSG⠀

🦪 Throwback to 1980! The first Oyster Culture in Maryland conference was held in 1979 and organizers expected about 40 attendees. Instead over 100 came. ⠀

🐟 The conference became an annual event from 1987 until 1995 and expanded to two days to include finfish and shellfish. It was supported by six states: Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Virginia.⠀

🗓 Here are some speakers from a conference session in 1980 (from left): Mike Paparella, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Extension; Bob Prier, Chesapeake Bay Seafood Industries Association; Bill Shaw, National Sea Grant College Program ; Don Webster, Maryland Sea Grant Extension⠀

📸 & Information: Courtesy of Don Webster / MDSG Extension
#TBT #ThrowbackThursday

Here’s a cute little fledgling for #WhatisitWednesday! Who can ID it with its common name? #mdsgbackyardecology

“We’re used to rolling with the punches. This is another thing to roll with, and we’ve pivoted and rolled with it pretty fast.” - Scott Budden, Orchard Point Oyster Co.

How are Maryland seafood purveyors working more directly with customers? Our new blog post takes a look!

Tributary Tuesday: Weems Creek

It’s #TributaryTuesday! Weems Creek in Annapolis is actually a stream in the heart of Maryland’s capital city. It runs east-northeast from a large commercial area, which includes the Westfield Annapolis shopping center, before emptying into the Severn River north of the Naval Academy. ⠀

Also called Weem Creek, it is named after the Weems family, which settled near it in the 1780s. ⠀

The creek has been impacted for decades by stormwater runoff and sediment pollution from the high amount of development along its banks. ⠀

A group of concerned citizens banded together in 1982 to form the Weems Creek Conservancy. The group, which is focused on preserving, restoring, and improving the Weems Creek watershed, has initiated a wide range of projects, including working with local officials to undertake scientific studies and secure grants.⠀

📸: Kate McClure / MDSG Extension

🇺🇸 In memory this #MemorialDay 🇺🇸

🦪 Shuck At Home - Episode 2: Use your freezer as an oyster shucking tool

🦪 Enjoy those great local Chesapeake Bay oysters at home this weekend! 🦪 In episode 2 of #ShuckAtHome we show you how you can use your freezer as a shucking tool! #FishyFriday

Can your freezer help you open oysters at home? Absolutely! Our own Matt Parker, an aquaculture business specialist, with Extension shows you how!

It's the International Day for Biological Diversity! Our team has been highlighting the diversity we've been seeing right here in Maryland with our #MDSGBackyardEcology posts this spring - we're curated them all right here, check them out!

Did you know plants can be fully parasitic? Meet the American cancer-root (Conopholis americana), which is only found where it can grow attached to the roots of some species of oak (Quercus spp.) trees. ⠀

Notice that it’s not green? It does not have any chlorophyll! It doesn’t need it for photosynthesis since it relies on its host plant for water and nutrients.

It is usually found in like this, in dense clumps of several stems, in shady wooded sites throughout the eastern U.S. and Canada where oak trees are present.⠀

Despite the common name of this plant, there is little evidence that it has any properties related to cancer - either as a prevention or cause! It’s believed the common name may have originated due to its parasitic tendencies. ⠀

📸: Fredrika Moser / MDSG⠀

It's National Safe Boating Week! With a holiday weekend coming up and 212,000 boats registered in Maryland, you're bound to have a lot of company on the water!

So a big part of safe boating means watching for others on the water and minding your wake. Here are some tips on how to not swamp your fellow boaters, and deal with the issue on your own craft!

#SGSafetyFirst #NationalSafeBoatingWeek

It’s #WatershedWednesday!⠀

Did you know that grass clippings and storm drains do not mix? It’s now mowing season & you may be tempted to blow those cut bits of grass into the street. But that can cause a number of issues.⠀

Cut grass and yard waste can wash down storm drains after a good rain, causing blockages that can lead to flooding. ⠀

They can also ultimately end up in local waterways, where they can cause higher levels of nutrients, which may lead to algal blooms. ⠀

Instead, leave the clippings on your yard to return the nutrients to your soil - it will make it healthier and help reduce the need for watering by building up the organic matter! ⠀

📸: Kate McClure / MDSG Extension

Videos (show all)

#MDSGBackyardEcology: Swamp milkweed leaf beetle (Labidomera clivicollis)
Tributary Tuesday: Weems Creek
#TributaryTuesday - Monocacy River
🦪 Shuck At Home - Episode 2: Use your freezer as an oyster shucking tool
Isle of Wright Bay in Ocean City, Maryland - April 2020
Beach grass on dunes in Ocean City
Ant colony
A pill bug scurries past



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