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This Week’s Creature Feature ... Susquehanna Flats B&B Open for Business

Grass beds survived storm to welcome waterfowl, Bay babies

Housing stock is on the rise for the young fish and crabs who’ll be sheltering at the top of the Bay come spring. The vast grass-filled Susquehanna Flats, the circular area where the Susquehanna River meets the Bay, appeared unexpectedly healthy in aerial survey images made late last year.
    The valuable Bay habitats seem to have survived fall 2011’s deluge of runoff and sediment.
    That was a welcome surprise. During Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, monitors saw large tangles of all varieties of uprooted grasses floating downstream. Remembering the devastation caused by Tropical Storm Agnes almost 40 years ago, scientists feared the worst.
    “Back on those days of Tropical Storm Lee, looking at the deluge of water over the Conowingo Dam, I would’ve bet that we had lost the Flats grasses entirely,” said Rich Batiuk of the Chesapeake Bay Program.
    Had that been the case, over-wintering waterfowl would have lost a favorite table. Many juvenile Bay creatures would have been homeless come spring.
    The grasses’ survival is good news not only for the creatures that feed on and live among them, but also for the Bay.
    “That large, dense beds can survive extreme conditions is another indicator of the Bay’s resilience,” Batiuk said.