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Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV)

What is Submerged Aquatic Vegetation?

Submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) species, are vascular plants that live underwater and are found throughout Maryland's tidal and non-tidal waters. Approximately fifteen varieties of SAV are typically found in the Chesapeake Bay and surrounding bodies of water.

submerged aquatic vegeatation photo

Unlike terrestrial plants which have rigid stems and leaves, bay grasses have specialized cells which provide buoyancy in the water environment. Aquatic grasses serve many important ecological roles such as improving water quality, providing food and shelter for other species as well as stabilizing sediment at the bottom of the water column.

Recent declines in water quality in the Bay caused by excess nutrients and sediment has caused significant losses of SAV populations. Because of their importance, the restoration of SAV in the Chesapeake and Coastal Bays is a priority for the department as well as the other Bay partners.

Dive Deeper into SAV:

Importance of SAV

Why is submerged aquatic vegetation so critical to the health of the Chesapeake?

Identifying SAV

Our identification guide and key will help you figure out what aquatic grass species you saw, or might have growing near you.

SAV Coverage

A visual timeline of the fluctuations of SAV abundance in the Chesapeake.

Maryland SAV Basin Map

View maps and charts of SAV coverage data for Maryland tributaries.

SAV Factors

What factors affect SAV growth and health?

SAV Permits & Regulations

SAV is protected from disruption by three laws, and in most cases a permit is required for SAV collection or removal.