Eelgrass, a flowering marine plant that forms underwater meadows, plays a significant role in supporting food security, preventing the erosion of coastlines, mitigating climate change and supporting biodiversity. For many reasons, some eelgrass meadows along the Manchester-by-the-Sea coastline have been slowly disappearing. Manchester residents, interested in reversing eelgrass loss in our coastal community, have petitioned our local government to take action. And they listened!
Manchester’s Conservation Commission formed the Eelgrass Conservation Subcommittee and tasked them with further understanding the root causes of the loss and then working to restore these underwater habitats. Headed by Dr. Henry Oettinger, Conservation Commission Member and Brookwood Science Chair, the subcommittee has made significant strides in partnering with experts and members of the community to help solve this issue.
This past week, Dr. Oettinger convened a group of scientists from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Manchester Harbormaster and three Brookwood fifth graders to harvest eelgrass reproductive chutes containing seeds in order to sow them in more depleted areas of our coastline. More than 1,000 potential eelgrass plants were relocated to less dense areas of Manchester Harbor! The specific areas that were re-planted will be monitored again in October to assess transplant success.
In Dr. Oettinger’s classes, outdoor learning is a core component of the curriculum. Whether students are tending to beehives or examining the habitats of tidal pools, Brookwood students draw connections from the curriculum to the world around us. When classroom curriculum is interwoven with meaningful and authentic community service based on actual need, students learn civic responsibility and strengthen our communities for the common good.
It is a joy to work with students and professionals alike to use science to help make our planet a better place!