Virginia Coast Reserve Restoration
See how The Nature Conservancy and partners are restoring seagrass at this coastal wilderness.
Watch a video about saving Virginia's seagrass.
The Nature Conservancy and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, along with several partners in the Seaside Heritage Seagrass Community Restoration Program, will soon begin the 2014 chapter of the largest seagrass restoration project in the world! Will you help us advance this vital conservation work?
Eelgrass is a simple seagrass that once thrived in the coastal bays of Virginia. In 1933, an outbreak of disease and a major hurricane virtually wiped it out. The Seaside Seagrass Community Restoration Program has been conducting highly successful efforts to restore eelgrass in the nearby coastal bays since 1999. Click to learn more about the Virginia Seaside Heritage Program.
Over the past three years alone, 250 volunteers have contributed more than 1,200 hours collecting reproductive shoots containing ripe seeds from the underwater plants. The shoots were measured into water tanks, and the seeds were then cured, separated, and prepared for fall planting.
Collection dates for 2014 are not yet available - look for dates to be set in early May.
How You Can Help
- Volunteer! The actual collection schedule will be dependent on weather, as well as seed ripening. We try to collect a few days before peak ripening, during peak ripening and a few days after peak ripening, all of which can be difficult to predict. Training: View the video and photo slideshows found on this site to get an idea of what you’ll be doing. On-site training will be conducted at the beginning of each workday.
- Make a donation. Can't attend the event, but still want to help our seagrass restoration efforts and other projects at the Virginia Coast Reserve? Your monetary donation will make a difference. Donate online today to support Conservancy programs on the Eastern Shore.
- Contribute gear. Donate or lend us wetsuits and/or snorkeling equipment.
- Advertise. Email or call up your friends, and post this year’s poster at a local business or around town.
Who: Volunteers. We’re looking for at least 100, preferably volunteers who have experience snorkeling, who are comfortable with being underwater, and/or who participated in past years. We can fit 10 people on our boat (see transportation section below) and can only take those who are actually collecting.
What: Collect seed-bearing reproductive shoots from underwater eelgrass plants. During low-tide collection, the water will be about waist deep. Trips will last from 5 to 6 hours.
When: Late May to Early June. Note: weather and timing are variable, and trips may change on short notice. It is important that volunteers are flexible. For those who are inexperienced, we highly encourage you to sign up for at least two collection days. The 2014 collection schedule is not yet available - look for dates to be set in early May.
CANCELLATION POLICY: It is important to note that volunteers need to be flexible, as collection trips may be canceled last minute because of weather, choppy water, wind, etc. A call in system has been set up for volunteers to check the status of the day's collection. It is the volunteer’s responsibility to determine if a collection date has been canceled. Call 757-607-6179 and listen to the message announcing the workday status. The latest we would cancel is 4 hours before collection, but typically we will make the go/no-go call by 9 p.m. No one will be answering the phone. Do not leave a message.
Where: In the seagrass meadows of South Bay off Oyster, Virginia, on the Eastern Shore. Volunteers will be leaving the dock in Oyster at varying times based on the tide.
Transportation: Volunteers board an open 24’ Carolina Skiff to get to the collection site. If it’s not too rough out, we can take as many as 10 volunteers on the boat, but we prefer only 8. On days with more than 10 volunteers, we have to find a second boat and captain which is usually a 24’ Privateer holding about 8 volunteers.
Lodging: If you need overnight accommodations please contact one of the following local businesses.
- Kiptopeke State Park: Camping, family lodges, RVs and yurts available. For information on availability of overnight accommodations, particular park amenities or to make a reservation, you can reserve online or call 1-800-933-PARK.
- Sunset Beach Resort Hotel: Call 757-331-4786 to reserve a room.
- Cape Charles House Bed and Breakfast: Call 757-331-4920 to reserve a room.
- Seagate Bed and Breakfast: Call 757-331-2206 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a room.
- Hampton Inn, Exmore: Call 757-442-7722 to reserve a room.
- Best Western, Exmore: Call 757-442-7378 to reserve a room.
Gear: You need a face mask, snorkel and towel(s). If you have a wetsuit and hood, please bring it. Water temperatures are typically 70 degrees F. We will have some wetsuits, face masks and snorkels available, but you will possibly have to share and sizes vary.
What Next? If you are interested in signing up to receive more information about the largest seagrass restoration in the world, please contact Jen Dalke, volunteer coordinator, at 434-951-0572 or email@example.com.
Thank you to our partners for making this event possible.