The Nature Conservancy Is Mobilizing the World’s Largest Seagrass Restoration Project along Virginia’s Eastern Shore

Eelgrass is important habitat for scallops, crabs and other life in our ocean and bays

Oyster, VA | May 10, 2012

More than 100 volunteers will help The Nature Conservancy, Virginia Institute of Marine Science and several partners in the Seaside Heritage Seagrass Community Restoration Program collect millions of eelgrass seeds for cultivation and replanting along the Eastern Shore of Virginia. The world’s largest seagrass restoration project, with support from NOAA’s restoration program, reduces the threat of storm surge to the marshes while providing important habitat for crabs, scallops and other marine life.

Over the past four years, more than 300 volunteers have collected shoots containing ripe seeds from underwater plants. The seeds are then cured and prepared for planting in the fall. Collectively we have broadcast more than 30 million seeds across hundreds of acres. Restoration efforts have accelerated the natural spread of eelgrass, which now covers more than 5,000 acres in South, Spider Crab, Hog Island and Cobb Island bays.

Who/What: 100+ volunteers during three weeks collect seed-bearing eelgrass shoots while snorkeling in waist-deep waters just south of Oyster, Virginia. Volunteers will take a short boat ride to the collection site.

Where/When: Begins May 14, with volunteer opportunities through the end of May. Times and dates are dependent on weather and tides. For details and a final schedule, please visit:, and volunteers must register with Jennifer Dalke:

Eelgrass is a seagrass that once thrived in the coastal bays of Virginia. In 1933, an outbreak of disease and a major hurricane combined to virtually wipe it out. The Seaside Seagrass Community Restoration Program has been conducting highly successful efforts to restore eelgrass in the nearby coastal bays since 1999. 


  • Volunteers can check the status of the day's collection by calling 757-350-1896. The latest we would cancel is 4 hours before collection.
  • Trips will last five to six hours, and volunteers should bring a towel, lunch, drinking water and sun block.
  • Please bring your own gear if you have it: Face masks, snorkels and wetsuits are available in limited quantities and sizes.

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at

Contact information

Tom McCann
703- 841-5317

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