Volunteer Snorkelers Sought for Seagrass Restoration Project

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Staff Report —

The Nature Conservancy is seeking volunteer snorkelers over the next two weeks to help with the largest seagrass restoration in the world, which happens to be on the Eastern Shore.

Volunteers snorkel to collect eelgrass seeds in the seaside bays off Oyster.

TNC is looking for a total of 16 volunteers each day between Monday, May 23, and Thursday, June 2.

Volunteers will likely not be able to collect seeds on all of the dates and TNC will let volunteers know of cancellations due to weather, turbidity, wind, underwater visibility, seeds under/over-ripe, full holding tanks, etc.

At this time, the organization can only take volunteers who are able to snorkel and collect the reproductive shoots.

Additional information will be sent to volunteers in a confirmation email, including the cancellation policy, directions, and volunteer forms to those who sign up.

Dates and Times: Monday, May 23, through Thursday, June 2. Trips will last from four to five hours. Those who have not collected before are encouraged to sign up for at least two collection days. See table below for dates and times.

Gear

Volunteers should bring:

  • Snorkel and mask.
  • Wetsuit.
    • Any volunteer with a wetsuit hood should bring it as it may get cold.
    • The water temperature will be around 65-70 degrees, which sounds warm, but after an hour, it gets chilly.
  • Drinking water and some snacks/lunch. Those with special dietary should be sure to bring everything they need.
  • Sunscreen and insect repellent.
  • Towel(s).
  • Swim suit (wear it to the eelgrass tank meeting location as there is not a good place to change on the boat or at the meeting location).
  • Water shoe, if preferred.
  • Dry/warm clothes to change into or put on top of swimsuit.

Cameras are permitted, but each volunteer is responsible for his or her personal gear.

Training: There will be on-site training each collection day. Volunteers will be trained on how to identify the reproductive shoots of the eelgrass plant and how to collect and bag them along with other related educational information. Volunteers should view the videos and slideshows found at www.nature.org/seagrassrestoration.

Location/Where to Meet: A big change this year is that volunteers will meet at TNC’s eelgrass tanks (not the boat ramp). Park in the grassy field on the left side of the road just before 6493 Sunnyside Road, Cape Charles, VA 23310. Once registered, participants will be sent a photo of the parking area from the road for reference.

If capacity for volunteers is reached on certain dates, a waitlist of volunteers will be started.

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