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Category for Healthy Ecosystems


What We Do


Virginia Sea Grant supports research and extension efforts to enhance ecosystem health, resilience, and sustainability.


Current work is featured below


A photo of the model displaying oyster aquaculture vulnerability in Virginia and Maryland. Dark green represents places with no threat, while red represents places where significant use conflict exists. ©Julia Robins/VASG

Mapping the Bay to Plan for Shellfish Aquaculture

Who would suspect that in a bay with as much shallow water as the Chesapeake there would be competition for space in its shallow water habitat?

The Lynnhaven River is a popular destination for recreational fishing and boating. ©Katharine Sucher/VASG

Lynnhaven River Restoration, Changing with the Times

After several hours in the sun, Emily Egginton Skeehan, Virginia Institute of Marine Science graduate student, plunges into Virginia Beach’s largest waterway. The Virginia Sea Grant Graduate Research Fellow is deploying tilt meters

There Will Be an App for That: Tracking Jellyfish in Chesapeake Bay Beaches

There Will Be an App for That: Tracking Jellyfish in Chesapeake Bay Beaches

Spring and summer blooms of comb jellies and sea nettles—two types of gelatinous zooplankton—are among the most dramatic of all seasonal changes in the Chesapeake Bay. Joshua Stone of Virginia Institute of Marine Science will use historical data to identify long-term trends in comb jelly and sea nettle abundance over the last 20 years. He […]

A. monilatum under a microscope. ©Bill Jones/VIMS

Is It Toxic? Investigating Whether a Particular Algae Might Harm Oysters

Blooms of Alexandrium monilatum have increased in both density and distribution since its first observation in 2007. Now researchers want to know, is it harmful to oyster or human health?

Restoring the Lynnhaven River—and Making It Last

Restoring the Lynnhaven River—and Making It Last

Over the next 50 years the US Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) Lynnhaven River Basin Ecosystem Restoration Plan (LRBERP) aims to construct or restore a combined 163 acres of habitat. Currently, however, the LRBERP does not account for rising global temperatures or sea level rise. Emily Egginton Skeehan of Virginia Institute of Marine Science plans […]

Martin Hall, Head of Dolphin-Tuna.

Collaborating with Fisheries to Reduce By Catch: 30 years of education

VIDEO: Martin Hall (Head of Tuna-Dolphin Program, Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission) shares lessons learned in reducing accidental catch of dolphins, turtles, and other animals.

The Asian Shore Crab is a small invasive animal that kicked out small native crabs all along the East Coast in the 1990s. Now it's on the decline. ©Susan Park/VASG/DESG

VASG Staff Ph.D. Research on Invasive Crabs in DE Bay Gains New Perspective

Delaware’s native mud crabs were on the verge of being completely edged out by invasive Asian shore crabs 10 years ago. Today, new research shows that the tables have unexpectedly turned.

Fellowship Grants Get Science Out of the Lab (Part 1)

Fellowship Grants Get Science Out of the Lab (Part 1)

Billur Celebi is studying how changing CO2 concentrations and temperatures will affect eelgrass in Virginia’s coastal waters. For the outreach portion of her project, she teamed up with Chris Witherspoon and Jovonne Vrechek of the Virginia Aquarium to develop educational programming about seagrass and ecosystem health for Aquarium guests and student programs.

Blina Kruja. ©Stephanie Chavez/VASG

Marine Policy Intern Studies Bay Management

As Virginia Sea Grant’s summer marine policy intern, Blina Kruja will investigate the relationships between different groups involved in ecosystem management in the Chesapeake Bay.

Seagrass Research: Notes From The Field

Seagrass Research: Notes From The Field

VASG-funded seagrass researchers on the Eastern Shore are studying the effects of climate change on submerged aquatic vegetation.

Aerial view of the York River near Sarah’s Creek during an algal bloom. Aug. 3, 2012. ©Kimberly Reece/VIMS

Primer Helps Shellfish Industry Navigate Harmful Algal Blooms

You’ve heard of UFOs, but what about HABs? A new publication aims to remove some of the mystery surrounding harmful algal blooms, especially when it comes to their effects on the shellfish industry. VIMS Professor Kim Reece and VIMS/VASG Commercial Shellfish Aquaculture Extension Specialist Karen Hudson prepared the short HAB Primer to help shellfish growers […]

Wendi Quidort and Katie Reece take water samples from an experiment in Sarah's Creek. ©Margaret Pizer/VASG

Graduate Research Fellow Raises the Profile of Viruses in Wastewater

Viruses tend to fly—or float—under the radar when it comes to most water quality standards, but Wendi Quidort’s research may be changing that soon. The Virginia Sea Grant Graduate Research Fellow, who is working towards her Ph.D. at Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS), has been making some interesting discoveries about what viruses released from wastewater treatment plants might be doing in Virginia’s creeks and estuaries.

Alia Al-Haj prepares to stake a light meter into the sediment at Magothy Bay. ©Janet Krenn/VASG

Researching the Path to Long-Term Success in VA’s Coastal Bays

University of Virginia graduate student and Virginia Sea Grant Fellow Alia Al-Haj researches how environmental change will affect seagrass restoration efforts.

Terrapin Files

Terrapin Files

Diamondback terrapins face a variety of threats—from coastal development to crab fishing. A team of VASG-funded researchers are mapping terrapin habitat and threats to aid in the development of effective management strategies.

Marine Scientist Jennifer Stanhope, VASG Graduate Research Fellow Annie Murphy, and Mark Luckenbach take water samples from the cores over the course of the day to measure the nutrient concentrations in the water.  ©Margaret Pizer/VASG

Nutrient Flow in Clam Aquaculture

Virginia’s hard clam industry produces between $20 and $30 million of clams annually, and individual clam farms cover areas ranging from 10’s to 100’s of acres. A Virginia Sea Grant-funded research team led by VIMS faculty members Iris Anderson, Mark Luckenbach, and Mark Brush is investigating the effects of these large-scale aquaculture operations on the flow of nutrients in Bay ecosystems. The results will help managers and clam farmers make sure the industry can function sustainably for years to come.

CO Robert Kamphaus discusses Seirios and Little Hercules, two vehicles which the Okeanos Explorer uses to gather underwater images. ©Janet Krenn/VASG

Bringing Important Deep Sea Data Ashore to Virginia

15 of Virginia’s federal and state organizations gathered on May 24 to tour the Okeanos Explorer and hear about one new success story: a collaboration that is putting deep-sea data that is usually difficult and expensive to obtain into the hands of Virginia’s management agencies.

Large algal blooms in Chesapeake Bay at the mouth of Mobjack Bay. ©Kim Reece/VIMS

Nutrient Uptake in Harmful Algal Blooms

When scientists and environmental regulators talk about nutrient pollution, they are primarily talking about additional nitrogen and phosphorus that enters the water from wastewater treatment plants, runoff, and other sources. These extra nutrients can allow algae to grow out of control, creating a phenomenon know as harmful algal blooms (HABs). However little is known about […]

Mats of Gracilaria vermiculophylla on a mudflat in a Virginia coastal bay. ©Dana Gulbransen/UVA

Effects of Invasive Seaweed on Oyster Pathogens

The seaweed Gracilaria vermiculophylla is an invasive species that has been recognized along the East Coast of the US in the last 10 years and is widespread on the eastern shore of Virginia. G. vermiculophylla can survive hot and dry conditions better than native algae, and can thus live in marsh and mudflat habitats where […]

The crew of the R/V Shearwater let out a net to trawl for flounder. ©Janet Krenn/VASG

Trawling for a Better Way to Assess Fish Health

On a warm morning last August, Ryan Schloesser and his labmate, student Lauren Nys, trawled off Oyster, VA. After a summer filled with collecting fish, they worked with experienced ease, throwing around jokes as smoothly as they tossed their nets behind the boat. What they pull up in their nets should help fisheries managers better predict the size of fish populations.

VIDEO: How to Build Oyster Gardening Equipment

VIDEO: How to Build Oyster Gardening Equipment

These videos show our friends at the Tidewater Oyster Gardeners Association (TOGA) assembling containers typically used in oyster gardening. Virginia Sea Grant is a proud partner with VIMS and TOGA. Together we train residents of coastal Virginia in the benefits, practice, and science of oyster gardening.

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