The NSRWA’s and MassBays Partnership Program’s annual Eelgrass Survey is right around the corner, and both boat captains and citizen science volunteers are still needed.  This research helps us to gain a better understanding of eelgrass (Zostera marina) in the Duxbury, Kingston, and Plymouth (DKP) harbors. 

A critical part of our marine ecosystems, eelgrass is part of the base of the marine food chain, and provides habitat to countless marine species, like small fish and crustaceans. However, despite its vital role, eelgrass populations in the DKP harbors have seen over a 75% decline since 1950. 

Since 2018, we have partnered with MassBays and the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries to study the eelgrass in the DKP harbors, in an attempt to diagnose the causes of such a rapid and concerning decline. Surveys have taken place every year since, with approximately 120 sites sampled each year. The data collected accounts for numerous potential causes to narrow in on what is causing eelgrass to die off.

Each year, we rely on our amazing volunteers to help us with this critical research. Boat captains with small (~15-25’) boats bring teams of 3-4 citizen science volunteers out in the harbors for roughly 6 hours each day. While out on the water, these teams will navigate to the GPS coordinates of our sampling sites, and use underwater cameras and other equipment to take samples of eelgrass and gather data on the oceanic and atmospheric conditions.

The Eelgrass Survey will be conducted on several dates throughout this summer:

  • Wednesday, July 19 – Friday, July 21
  • Monday, July 31 – Sunday, August 6
  • Saturday, August 12 – Friday, August 18

We are still looking for volunteers for this summer’s survey. Both boat captains and citizen science volunteers are still needed. If you or someone you know has a 15-25 ft. boat or a passion for researching our local waters, and is available to volunteer on the dates listed above, please fill out one of our volunteer surveys (linked below) or email or

Because only together will we be able to save our eelgrass!

Eelgrass Volunteer Survey

Eelgrass Boat Captain Survey