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Plants of the Estuary - Part 1

We've already learned about one major plant of the estuary system. Can you remember what it is? On a new notebook page labelled "Plants of the Estuary", write what you know about plants in the estuary, and any questions you have about them.

Plants are known as producers because they produce their own food. Remember photosynthesis? Plants use nutrients and sunlight to create their own food.

Plants - Part 2

Here in Puget Sound, sea grasses are a vital part of the estuary. Huge beds of eelgrasses can be found in Padilla Bay. Click on the link below to read about eelgrass.


Why is eelgrass so important to the estuary? How do other organisms use eelgrass? Write your answers in your notebook.

Padilla Bay eelgrass at low tide

Eelgrass at Bay View State Park in Padilla Bay

Plants - Part 3

Plants, like eelgrass, have a very important role in the estuary. They:
  • provide food for organisms (the Brant Goose eats eelgrass in Padilla Bay),
  • provide habitat for many animals, such as crabs, isopods, and anemones,
  • provide shelter for young fish, such as salmon,
  • help keep the sediment from eroding

In many places, eelgrass beds have been completely destroyed. Here in Washington, Padilla Bay has one of the largest eelgrass beds, but even there about 33% has been lost.

Think about the places where the eelgrass has been destroyed. What do you think happened? Write your answers to these questions in your notebook:

  1. What do you think happened to destroy the eelgrass?
  2. How do you think that loss affected the different structures of the estuary?
  3. If someone wanted to bring back the eelgrass, what could they do?

Of course, eelgrass is not the only plant that lives in the estuary. It is the most common one here in Puget Sound, though.

Be prepared for our whole-group discussion time by having your notebook filled out with the following items:
  1. What you've learned today.
  2. Any questions you still have about estuary plants.
  3. Interesting things you'd like to share (such as scientific drawings, interesting facts, etc.).

Become an estuary expert!

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