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  • Our eelgrass workday begins with an early-morning boat ride from Oyster, Virginia. The Conservancy’s Bo Lusk provides a brief orientation before we hit the water. © Mark Godfrey/TNC
  • Lusk dives down for a handful of eelgrass and separates the seed-bearing reproductive shoots. For about 10 days in late spring, the shoots are in the prime stage for seed collection. © Daniel White/TNC
  • The team from VIMS uses a barge anchored in South Bay to prepare for their day’s work. The Conservancy’s Kate Hibbard hits the water and concentrates on collecting her first bag of eelgrass shoots. © Daniel White/TNC
  • Volunteers spread out across the shallow bay toward Wreck Island, a state-owned natural area preserve. © Daniel White/TNC
  • How do volunteers collect up to 10 million eelgrass seeds during a roughly 10-day window? A handful at a time. © Mark Godfrey/TNC
  • From tiny shrimp-like amphipods to sea turtles, eelgrass meadows provide food and shelter for an intricate web of marine life. Here, a hermit crab scuttles across a horseshoe crab shell. © Bo Lusk/TNC
  • While snorkeling, volunteers encounter a variety of sea snails and shellfish, including knobbed whelks, clams and the occasional bay scallop. © Mark Godfrey/TNC
  • Scott Marion and Martin Wunderly of VIMS collect eelgrass trimmings with a boat-mounted mower. The process is similar to mowing a lawn; the eelgrass will soon grow back. © Daniel White/TNC
  • As the tide falls, most volunteers switch from snorkeling to wading. © Daniel White/TNC
  • ‘Hey JJ, you missed a seed!’ VIMS Dr. JJ Orth responds with a dive and surfaces clutching the day’s last eelgrass shoot. © Daniel White/TNC
  • We load up the day’s haul for transport back to holding tanks. The seeds will be extracted, stored in sea water until fall, and then sown back into the seaside bays. © Daniel White/TNC
  • VIMS and the Conservancy have broadcast upwards of 30 million seeds across more than 4,700 acres in four bays — the largest, most successful seagrass restoration project in the world. © Daniel White/TNC
Virginia
A Day in the Life of a Seagrass Volunteer

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