Eelgrass in Canada

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Eelgrass (Zostera marina) is a common seagrass species that plays an important role in coastal and estuarine ecosystems. Eelgrass beds provide a variety of ecosystem services, including stabilizing sediments and reducing the force of waves, and they are habitats for various types of animals including fish and invertebrates. They also form a substrate for other plants, are food for various marine organisms and are an efficient carbon sink. The maps below show compiled information on the distribution of eelgrass sites in Canada, including historical observations. They provide a snapshot of where eelgrass has been studied in Canada.

Results

Key results

  • Eelgrass is widespread on the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic (Hudson Bay) coasts of Canada
  • Most of the mapped eelgrass sites in James Bay (Hudson Bay) are in recovery following major declines
  • For the information included, the majority of eelgrass sites in Canada are single observations or sites for which the most recent observations are more than 10 years old (historical)Footnote 1 

Eelgrass sites in Canada, 2020

Eelgrass sites in Canada, 2020 (See data table below for the long description)
Data table for the long description
Eelgrass sites in Canada, 2020
Site Province Latitude Longitude Status
Agamemnon Channel BC 49.649 -124.071 Historical observation
Ahousaht BC 49.274 -126.065 Single observation
Alert Bay BC 50.599 -126.932 Restored
Ahousaht BC 49.278 -126.054 Restored
Arakun BC 49.170 -125.889 Multiple observations
Atleo BC 49.373 -126.062 Single observation
Auseth BC 49.119 -125.786 Multiple observations
Bag Harbour (Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site) BC 52.359 -131.348 Single observation
Baikie Slough BC 50.038 -125.265 Multiple observations
Banks Island, inlet of outer coast on northwest end of island BC 53.607 -130.535 Historical observation
Banks Island, Rawlinson Anchorage, outer coast, northwest end of island; south side of Anchorage BC 53.576 -130.543 Historical observation
Bawden Bay BC 49.288 -126.006 Single observation
Beaumont BC 48.754 -123.240 Single observation
Beck BC 49.160 -125.904 Multiple observations
Bedwell Bay BC 49.316 -122.915 Multiple observations
Bella Bella BC 52.138 -128.144 Multiple observations
Bish Cove, Kitimat BC 53.921 -128.750 Single observation
Boundary Bay BC 49.030 -122.960 Historical observation
Boundary Bay BC 49.005 -123.034 Historical observation
Broken Group Islands BC 48.900 -125.310 Multiple observations
Cabbage Island BC 48.798 -123.089 Single observation
Calmus BC 49.209 -125.960 Multiple observations
Campbell River; White Rock, mouth of river BC 49.017 -122.783 Historical observation
Cannery Bay BC 49.142 -125.670 Single observation
Choked Pass BC 51.675 -128.119 Multiple observations
Clarke BC 48.888 -125.380 Multiple observations
Columbia Beach BC 49.355 -124.378 Historical observation
Comox BC 49.661 -124.941 Historical observation
Condos BC 49.153 -125.898 Historical observation
Coode Island BC 50.027 -124.744 Historical observation
Cortes Island BC 50.058 -124.893 Historical observation
Cove west of Beulah Island BC 50.057 -124.800 Historical observation
Cowichan Bay BC 48.745 -123.624 Multiple observations
Denman Island; Denman Point, offshore, north of Denman Point BC 49.567 -124.833 Historical observation
Ducking BC 49.139 -125.865 Multiple observations
Duthie Bay BC 52.780 -128.215 Restored
East Okeover BC 49.978 -124.685 Historical observation
East Trevenen Bay BC 50.020 -124.737 Historical observation
Effingham BC 48.876 -125.304 Multiple observations
Effingham south BC 48.874 -125.309 Single observation
Elbow Bank BC 49.195 -125.943 Multiple observations
Feather Bay BC 50.063 -124.822 Historical observation
Felice BC 49.156 -125.921 Multiple observations
Float dock BC 49.155 -125.909 Historical observation
Gibsons Harbour BC 49.399 -123.503 Multiple observations
Goat Cove BC 52.781 -128.397 Restored
Gobeil Bay BC 53.876 -128.670 Multiple observations
Goose southeast BC 51.925 -128.454 Multiple observations
Goose southwest BC 51.923 -128.465 Multiple observations
Haines BC 48.834 -125.196 Historical observation
Hammond Bay BC 49.230 -123.960 Multiple observations
Hand Island BC 48.951 -125.313 Multiple observations
Hand Island, north BC 48.953 -125.319 Single observation
Head of Bamfield Inlet BC 49.105 -125.749 Historical observation
Head of Okeover Inlet BC 49.969 -124.683 Historical observation
Head of Penrose Bay BC 50.010 -124.730 Historical observation
Hootlakootla BC 49.363 -126.229 Single observation
Hotsprings BC 49.377 -126.269 Single observation
Howe Sound mainland BC 49.487 -123.297 Single observation
Hyacinthe Bay BC 50.118 -125.226 Historical observation
Indian BC 49.112 -125.775 Multiple observations
Irish Bay BC 48.820 -123.208 Single observation
James Bay BC 48.843 -123.400 Single observation
Jamie's Whaling Station BC 49.152 -125.897 Historical observation
Jaques-Jarvis Lagoon BC 48.921 -125.276 Multiple observations
Joe's Bay BC 48.913 -125.318 Multiple observations
Kennedy Cove BC 49.139 -125.675 Single observation
Kitkatla BC 53.795 -130.438 Historical observation
Kitsilano Beach BC 49.274 -123.189 Restored
Koeye Estuary BC 51.780 -127.871 Multiple observations
Kootowis BC 49.105 -125.749 Multiple observations
Larsen Island, northwest of Banks Island BC 53.608 -130.575 Historical observation
Larson Bay BC 49.362 -123.283 Single observation
Lyall Harbour BC 48.797 -123.185 Single observation
Malksope River, estuary BC 50.133 -127.417 Historical observation
Mayne Bay BC 48.974 -125.311 Multiple observations
McMullin North BC 52.062 -128.412 Multiple observations
McMullin South BC 52.052 -128.403 Multiple observations
Mikes BC 49.133 -125.866 Historical observation
Minette Bay BC 54.019 -128.632 Restored
Monas BC 49.184 -125.885 Historical observation
Moresby East BC 48.719 -123.300 Single observation
Morse Basin BC 54.269 -130.236 Historical observation
Mouth of Theodosia BC 50.067 -124.702 Historical observation
Mud Bay BC 49.185 -125.956 Multiple observations
North of Lucy Rock BC 49.977 -124.691 Historical observation
North of Public Dock BC 49.994 -124.715 Historical observation
Nanaimo BC 49.180 -123.943 Historical observation
Nanaimo BC 49.158 -123.910 Multiple observations
Nanaimo Estuary BC 49.153 -123.926 Restored
Nettle BC 48.935 -125.248 Multiple observations
North Vancouver BC 49.297 -123.001 Multiple observations
Olive Point/Boswell Inlet BC 51.336 -127.586 Historical observation
Opitisaht BC 49.172 -125.910 Restored
Parks dock BC 48.827 -125.137 Historical observation
Pat Bay BC 48.660 -123.451 Historical observation
Pinkerton BC 48.963 -125.279 Multiple observations
Pooley Island BC 52.785 -128.220 Historical observation
Porcher Island, east side of isthmus between Serpentine Inlet and outer coast BC 53.946 -130.682 Historical observation
Port Clements BC 53.697 -132.173 Multiple observations
Powell River BC 49.850 -124.529 Restored
Pruth Bay BC 51.645 -128.119 Multiple observations
Quadra BC 50.060 -125.224 Multiple observations
Queen Charlotte City, Skidegate, 2 kilometers south of Skidegate mission at the Haida museum, 0.5 kilometers north of Image Point BC 53.250 -132.000 Historical observation
Rassier Point BC 49.184 -125.939 Historical observation
Reynard Point BC 48.730 -123.331 Single observation
Robber Passage BC 48.893 -125.119 Single observation
Roberts Bank BC 49.030 -123.130 Historical observation
Roberts Bank BC 49.019 -123.106 Multiple observations
Roberts Point BC 49.217 -125.931 Multiple observations
Roquefeuil Bay BC 48.863 -125.106 Single observation
South of Myrmidon Point BC 50.060 -124.804 Historical observation
Salt Spring BC 48.775 -123.370 Historical observation
Saturna Beach BC 48.783 -123.203 Single observation
Sedgwick Bay, Lyell Island BC 52.633 -131.567 Historical observation
Selby Cove BC 48.833 -123.397 Single observation
Sharp BC 49.193 -125.862 Multiple observations
Sidney BC 48.653 -123.396 Multiple observations
Sidney BC 48.649 -123.393 Restored
Sidney Island BC 48.618 -123.302 Multiple observations
Sidney Island North BC 48.642 -123.338 Historical observation
Sidney Spit BC 48.630 -123.331 Single observation
Sooke BC 48.378 -123.691 Historical observation
South Bay BC 49.126 -125.811 Historical observation
Southern Clayoquot Sound BC 49.139 -125.867 Multiple observations
Steamer Cove BC 49.375 -126.193 Single observation
Stubbs BC 49.160 -125.925 Historical observation
Sushi bar BC 49.155 -125.906 Historical observation
Tsawwassen BC 49.056 -123.123 Historical observation
Taylor Bay BC 48.887 -123.327 Restored
Thors Cove BC 50.058 -124.707 Historical observation
Tip of Coode Pen BC 50.006 -124.723 Historical observation
Tofino BC 49.154 -125.912 Historical observation
Tofino BC 49.154 -125.911 Restored
Tofino, Frank Island, Cox Bay BC 49.108 -125.900 Historical observation
Triquet Bay BC 51.809 -128.236 Multiple observations
Triquet North BC 51.809 -128.247 Multiple observations
Trout Bay BC 52.591 -128.523 Restored
Tumbo East BC 48.794 -123.057 Single observation
Turret BC 48.899 -125.343 Multiple observations
West of Beulah Island BC 50.057 -124.796 Historical observation
West Trevenen Bay BC 50.016 -124.737 Historical observation
West government dock BC 48.829 -125.140 Historical observation
Whaler Bay BC 48.885 -123.327 Multiple observations
Wizard BC 48.864 -125.361 Historical observation
Wouwer BC 48.861 -125.359 Multiple observations
Aldouane NB 46.710 -64.897 Multiple observations
Baie de Bouctouche NB 46.500 -64.677 Multiple observations
Baie de Lamèque NB 47.796 -64.675 Multiple observations
Baie Sainte-Anne NB 47.054 -64.956 Historical observation
Baie St. Simon Sud (Saint-Simon) NB 47.786 -64.778 Multiple observations
Baie Verte NB 46.019 -64.060 Historical observation
Bedec NB 46.682 -64.774 Multiple observations
Bouctouche NB 46.500 -64.650 Single observation
Bras d'Or NB 46.064 -60.891 Single observation
Caraquet Harbour NB 47.804 -64.966 Single observation
Charlo Estuary NB 47.986 -66.278 Historical observation
Cocagne Harbour NB 46.339 -64.574 Multiple observations
Jaquet River NB 47.922 -66.024 Historical observation
Kouchibouguac Bay NB 46.842 -64.938 Multiple observations
Kouchibouguac National Park NB 46.751 -64.865 Single observation
Kouchibouguacis Estuary NB 46.779 -64.895 Historical observation
Miscou NB 47.900 -64.550 Single observation
Neguac NB 47.250 -65.030 Single observation
Richibucto NB 46.700 -64.800 Single observation
Shediac NB 46.259 -64.552 Single observation
Shediac Bay NB 46.269 -64.528 Single observation
Shippagan NB 47.741 -64.840 Single observation
Tabusintac NB 47.319 -64.944 Single observation
Tabusintac Bay NB 47.370 -64.940 Multiple observations
Tracadie North NB 47.550 -64.890 Single observation
Tracadie South NB 47.469 -64.888 Single observation
Beach Cove NL 48.651 -53.918 Single observation
Bellevue NL 47.637 -53.744 Historical observation
Big Brook NL 48.551 -53.965 Multiple observations
Big Cold East NL 48.571 -53.832 Single observation
Bread Cove NL 48.480 -53.923 Single observation
Bridgeport NL 49.555 -54.828 Historical observation
Broad Cove NL 48.651 -53.896 Single observation
Broad Lake-Bellevue NL 47.631 -53.759 Historical observation
Buckley Cove NL 48.590 -53.915 Multiple observations
Cannings Cove NL 48.570 -53.922 Multiple observations
Cannings Cove/Long Tom Cove NL 48.445 -53.847 Historical observation
Champney's Cove NL 48.390 -53.298 Historical observation
Clarenville NL 48.186 -53.973 Historical observation
Clay Cove NL 48.586 -53.783 Single observation
Davidsville, Notre Dame Bay NL 49.350 -54.430 Historical observation
Deep Bight NL 48.098 -53.944 Historical observation
Deer Harbour NL 47.904 -53.814 Historical observation
Dockside NL 48.559 -53.964 Multiple observations
Dumpling Cove NL 48.484 -53.903 Single observation
Flat Bay NL 48.408 -58.579 Historical observation
Fortune Harbour (Fox Cove 2) NL 49.522 -55.275 Multiple observations
Fortune Harbour (northwest bottom) NL 49.528 -55.283 Historical observation
Fortune Harbour (southeast bottom) NL 49.500 -55.217 Multiple observations
Fortune Harbour (southwest bottom) NL 49.508 -55.267 Historical observation
Fox Island NL 49.405 -54.478 Historical observation
Glenburnie NL 49.439 -57.887 Historical observation
Goose Arm NL 49.172 -57.860 Historical observation
Goose Bay NL 48.373 -53.852 Single observation
Goose Cove NL 48.368 -53.475 Historical observation
Grassy Island NL 49.402 -54.413 Historical observation
Green's Harbour NL 47.640 -53.508 Historical observation
Half Island NL 47.185 -53.532 Historical observation
Hawks Bay NL 50.611 -57.171 Historical observation
Hefferns Cove NL 48.563 -53.891 Multiple observations
Hurloc Head Cove NL 48.563 -53.729 Single observation
Indian Bay NL 49.013 -53.777 Historical observation
Julies Harbour NL 49.447 -55.710 Historical observation
Lark Harbour NL 49.100 -58.382 Single observation
Little Cold East NL 48.573 -53.818 Single observation
Little Heart's Ease NL 48.019 -53.683 Historical observation
Little Mosquito NL 47.841 -53.899 Historical observation
Little Mosquito Cove NL 47.842 -53.898 Multiple observations
Little Port Harmon NL 48.514 -58.537 Single observation
Little South Broad Cove NL 48.571 -53.871 Single observation
Lockston's Arm NL 48.392 -53.372 Multiple observations
Lower Wolfe Cove NL 49.492 -56.065 Historical observation
Luke's Arm NL 49.522 -54.815 Historical observation
Man Point NL 48.428 -53.850 Historical observation
Manual’s NL 49.126 -57.928 Single observation
Mill Cove NL 48.657 -53.932 Single observation
Milton NL 48.224 -53.958 Historical observation
Minchin Cove NL 48.564 -53.878 Multiple observations
Mistaken Cove NL 48.587 -53.918 Multiple observations
Mount Stamford NL 48.571 -53.910 Multiple observations
Musgravetown, Bonavista Bay NL 48.400 -53.880 Historical observation
Near Hillview NL 48.202 -53.923 Historical observation
Near Trinity NL 48.379 -53.380 Historical observation
New Bridge Cove NL 48.582 -53.929 Multiple observations
New Harbour NL 47.586 -53.543 Historical observation
North Harbour (bottom) NL 47.160 -53.648 Historical observation
Old Shop NL 47.525 -53.573 Historical observation
Overs Islands NL 48.529 -53.752 Single observation
Park Harbour NL 48.534 -53.802 Single observation
Parson's Pond NL 50.026 -57.708 Historical observation
Piccadilly NL 48.577 -58.904 Single observation
Placentia Bay NL 47.343 -53.934 Multiple observations
Platter Island NL 48.454 -53.947 Single observation
Plum Point/St. Genevieve NL 51.235 -56.871 Historical observation
Port Au Port NL 48.564 -58.893 Historical observation
Seal Island NL 49.433 -54.468 Historical observation
Ship Cove NL 48.570 -53.802 Single observation
Shoal Harbour NL 48.202 -53.959 Historical observation
Simmonds Cove NL 48.601 -53.763 Single observation
South Broad Cove NL 48.558 -53.857 Multiple observations
Southwest Arm NL 48.624 -53.964 Single observation
Southwest Brook NL 48.508 -58.288 Single observation
Spread Eagle Bay NL 47.536 -53.596 Historical observation
St. Andrew's NL 47.758 -59.302 Historical observation
St. Chads NL 48.661 -53.757 Single observation
St. Paul’s inner gut NL 49.857 -57.797 Single observation
St. Paul’s outer gut NL 49.857 -57.804 Single observation
Sunnyside NL 47.864 -53.937 Historical observation
Sunnyside, Trinity Bay NL 47.850 -53.900 Historical observation
Sweet Bay NL 48.436 -53.655 Single observation
Terra Nova Visitor Center NL 48.580 -53.946 Single observation
Trepassey NL 47.752 -53.365 Historical observation
Trinity NL 48.396 -53.373 Historical observation
Two Guts Pond NL 48.645 -58.655 Single observation
White Rock NL 48.565 -53.960 Multiple observations
Woodford Arm (bottom)/Miles Cove #3 NL 49.492 -55.065 Multiple observations
Woodford Arm (outcrops)/Miles Cove #1 NL 49.520 -55.853 Multiple observations
Antigonish Harbour NS 45.716 -61.898 Historical observation
Aspy Bay NS 46.921 -60.481 Single observation
Benoit Cove, Tracadie Harbour NS 45.632 -61.628 Historical observation
Boat Harbour NS 45.685 -62.668 Single observation
Cable Island NS 44.747 -62.793 Single observation
Canso NS 45.315 -60.981 Single observation
Cape LaHave Island NS 44.222 -64.381 Single observation
Captain’s Island NS 45.686 -61.899 Historical observation
Caribou NS 45.769 -62.728 Historical observation
Carters Beach — Port Mouton Bay NS 43.908 -64.819 Single observation
Cheticamp NS 46.626 -61.018 Single observation
Chezzetcook Inlet NS 44.703 -63.241 Single observation
Clam Harbour NS 44.719 -62.884 Single observation
Cole Harbour NS 44.657 -63.433 Single observation
Cow Bay NS 44.607 -63.434 Single observation
Crescent Beach NS 44.238 -64.406 Multiple observations
Croucher Island NS 44.642 -63.957 Single observation
East Petpeswick NS 44.712 -63.166 Single observation
False Passage NS 44.744 -62.797 Multiple observations
Franks George NS 44.593 -63.944 Multiple observations
Gegogan Harbour NS 45.050 -61.950 Single observation
Gooseberrry Island, Antigonish NS 44.760 -62.660 Historical observation
Halifax (Inner Harbour) NS 44.627 -63.529 Historical observation
Inner Sambro Island NS 44.455 -63.588 Multiple observations
Jackies Island — Port Mouton Bay NS 43.901 -64.781 Single observation
Jordan Bay — Green Bay NS 43.718 -65.166 Single observation
Kejimkujik National Park Seaside, Little Port Joli NS 43.872 -64.823 Multiple observations
Lawrencetown NS 44.667 -63.410 Single observation
Little Harbour NS 45.654 -62.539 Single observation
Lobster Bay NS 43.688 -65.879 Single observation
Lobster Bay, Yarmouth County NS 43.680 -65.820 Historical observation
Lockeport NS 43.700 -65.055 Single observation
Lower Three Fathom Harbour NS 44.635 -63.294 Multiple observations
Mabou NS 46.082 -61.460 Single observation
Mahone Bay NS 44.450 -64.379 Single observation
Mason's Island NS 44.391 -64.279 Single observation
Merigomish NS 45.632 -62.448 Historical observation
Merigomish NS 45.644 -62.414 Single observation
Miramichi NS 47.061 -65.428 Single observation
Morien Bay NS 46.134 -59.852 Single observation
Musquodoboit Harbour NS 44.705 -63.092 Historical observation
Negro Harbour NS 43.562 -65.427 Single observation
Old Wharf — Port Mouton Bay NS 43.927 -64.846 Single observation
Petpeswick NS 44.690 -63.138 Historical observation
Pomquet NS 45.639 -61.833 Historical observation
Port Joli muddy NS 43.876 -64.901 Multiple observations
Port Joli sandy NS 43.872 -64.895 Single observation
Port l'Hebert NS 43.868 -64.963 Multiple observations
Port Mouton — Carters Beach NS 43.909 -64.823 Single observation
Port Mouton Island — Port Mouton Bay NS 43.908 -64.779 Single observation
Pugwash/River Phillip NS 45.838 -63.683 Single observation
Ragged Harbour NS 44.096 -64.557 Single observation
Round Bay NS 43.594 -65.349 Single observation
Sacrifice Island NS 44.397 -64.236 Single observation
Second Peninsula NS 44.402 -64.281 Multiple observations
Spectacle Island — Port Mouton Bay NS 43.915 -64.807 Single observation
St. Catherine's River Estuary NS 43.848 -64.830 Multiple observations
Strawberry Island NS 44.648 -63.952 Single observation
Tatamagouche NS 45.719 -63.296 Historical observation
Taylor's Head NS 44.820 -62.572 Single observation
Bedeque Bay PEI 46.368 -63.868 Historical observation
Cascumpec PEI 46.753 -64.076 Historical observation
Freeland River Estuary PEI 46.685 -63.938 Historical observation
Hillsborough Bay PEI 46.160 -63.121 Historical observation
Kildare River Estuary PEI 46.831 -64.048 Historical observation
Malpeque Bay PEI 46.524 -63.697 Single observation
Midgell River Estuary PEI 46.420 -62.649 Historical observation
Mill River Estuary PEI 46.768 -64.082 Historical observation
Rustico PEI 46.454 -63.295 Historical observation
Southwest River Estuary PEI 46.480 -63.500 Historical observation
St. Mary's PEI 46.337 -62.273 Historical observation
Stanley-Trout River Estuary PEI 46.470 -63.460 Historical observation
Anse à la Cave QC 48.290 -69.450 Historical observation
Anse au Homard QC 48.830 -64.460 Historical observation
Anse aux Gascons QC 48.190 -64.850 Historical observation
Anse du Chafaud aux Basques QC 48.020 -69.770 Historical observation
Anse du Petit Mitis QC 48.680 -68.030 Historical observation
Anse-aux-Cousins QC 48.850 -64.510 Historical observation
Aylmer Sound Bay QC 50.600 -59.440 Historical observation
Baie aux Outardes QC 49.030 -68.560 Historical observation
Baie d’Escuminac, Pointe-à-la-Garde QC 48.070 -66.540 Historical observation
Baie de Bon-Désir QC 48.270 -69.480 Historical observation
Baie de Cascapédia QC 48.180 -65.940 Historical observation
Baie de Mille-Vaches, Petits-Escoumins QC 48.430 -69.300 Historical observation
Baie de Mille-Vaches, Pointe-à-Emile QC 48.570 -69.200 Historical observation
Baie des Belles Amours west to Blanc-Sablon QC 51.480 -57.260 Historical observation
Baie des Grandes Bergeronnes QC 48.230 -69.550 Historical observation
Baie des Homards QC 49.830 -67.090 Historical observation
Baie des Petites Bergeronnes QC 48.220 -69.580 Historical observation
Baie des Plongeurs QC 48.770 -68.990 Historical observation
Baie des Sept Îles QC 50.230 -66.510 Single observation
Baie Didier QC 48.770 -69.010 Historical observation
Baie Ellis, Anticosti Island QC 49.820 -64.380 Historical observation
Baie Laval QC 48.760 -69.050 Historical observation
Baie of Many Islands (Baie James) QC 54.136 -79.151 Multiple observations
Baie Plate, Tête à la Baleine sector QC 50.690 -59.310 Historical observation
Baie St-Ludger QC 49.087 -68.320 Historical observation
Baie Tees (Baie James) QC 53.731 -79.069 Multiple observations
Barre de Sandy Beach QC 48.840 -64.410 Historical observation
Barre Portneuf, Ste Anne de Portneuf QC 48.620 -69.090 Historical observation
Bassin aux Huîtres QC 47.551 -61.517 Single observation
Bassin de la Rivière Nouvelle QC 48.100 -66.280 Historical observation
Bassin de Sud-Ouest, Havre du Gaspé QC 48.810 -64.490 Historical observation
Batture aux Outardes QC 49.040 -68.480 Historical observation
Bonaventure Barachois QC 48.040 -65.530 Historical observation
Cacouna (Cacouna-Sud) QC 47. 95 -69.480 Single observation
Cap-aux-Os QC 48.840 -64.350 Historical observation
Cap-Chat QC 49.110 -66.650 Historical observation
Carleton Barachois QC 48.100 -66.110 Historical observation
Champlain Beach QC 49.205 -68.141 Historical observation
Cloridorme QC 49.180 -64.830 Historical observation
Coves at Newport QC 48.265 -64.742 Historical observation
Dead Duck II (Baie James) QC 53.583 -78.982 Multiple observations
Fleurant QC 48.110 -66.400 Historical observation
Gaspé, Pointe Jacques Cartier QC 48.840 -64.480 Historical observation
Barachois du Grand Pabos QC 48.330 -64.720 Historical observation
Gros-Morne QC 49.250 -65.550 Historical observation
Havre Bluff QC 50.220 -60.520 Historical observation
Hopetown QC 48.060 -65.140 Historical observation
Île Crescent QC 50.640 -59.390 Historical observation
Îles de Mai, west of Sept-Îles QC 49.920 -66.970 Historical observation
Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Anse du Bassin QC 47.240 -61.830 Historical observation
Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Baie du Havre aux Basques QC 47.270 -61.950 Historical observation
Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Havre-aux-Maisons QC 47.440 -61.770 Historical observation
Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Lagune de la Grande Entrée QC 47.600 -61.500 Historical observation
Îlets Boisés QC 48.413 -69.314 Historical observation
Îlets Jérémis QC 48.890 -68.780 Historical observation
Inner barachois at Port-Daniel QC 48.190 -64.970 Historical observation
Kégaska sector, Anse aux Huîtres QC 50.190 -61.280 Historical observation
Kégaska sector, Baie aux Huîtres QC 50.190 -61.297 Historical observation
Kégaska sector, Baie Pepihtnahu QC 50.200 -61.100 Historical observation
Kégaska sector, Baie St-Augustin QC 51.210 -58.610 Historical observation
Kégaska sector, Baie Tertiary Shell QC 50.240 -60.280 Historical observation
Kégaska sector, Coacoachou QC 50.250 -60.290 Historical observation
Kégaska sector, Rivière Mistassini QC 50.195 -61.169 Historical observation
L’Anse-Pleureuse QC 49.250 -65.660 Historical observation
L’Isle-Verte QC 48.040 -69.340 Historical observation
La Grande Anse QC 48.160 -69.650 Historical observation
L'Anse-McInnes QC 48.180 -64.940 Historical observation
Les Escoumins QC 48.350 -69.390 Historical observation
Les Prairies QC 47.350 -70.520 Historical observation
Malbaie Barachois QC 48.610 -64.290 Historical observation
Mouth of Rivière Mitis QC 48.640 -69.140 Historical observation
New-Carlisle QC 48.000 -65.400 Historical observation
Parc des Pionniers QC 49.222 -68.140 Historical observation
Paspébiac QC 48.020 -65.250 Historical observation
Patte de Lièvre QC 48.710 -69.080 Historical observation
Paul Bay to Baie des Oies (Baie James) QC 54.010 -79.050 Multiple observations
Penouille QC 48.850 -64.420 Single observation
Petit-Pabos QC 48.370 -64.590 Historical observation
Petits-Capucins QC 49.060 -66.790 Historical observation
Pointe à Émile QC 48.596 -69.106 Historical observation
Pointe Attikuan QC 54.290 -79.500 Multiple observations
Pointe de Miguasha QC 48.070 -66.300 Historical observation
Pointe des Oblats à la rivière Conn QC 52.685 -78.753 Multiple observations
Pointe Kakassituq QC 54.196 -79.363 Multiple observations
Pointe Shave to Rivière au Phoque QC 54.586 -79.605 Multiple observations
Pointe-au-Père QC 48.510 -68.480 Historical observation
Pointe-aux-Outardes QC 49.060 -68.364 Historical observation
Pointe-Manicouagan QC 49.118 -68.176 Historical observation
Rimouski Bay QC 48.451 -68.555 Single observation
Rivière au Castor QC 53.386 -78.975 Multiple observations
Rivière Blanche Estuary QC 48.820 -68.928 Historical observation
Rivière du Sud-Ouest in Bic QC 48.370 -68.740 Historical observation
Rivière Roggan QC 54.449 -79.490 Multiple observations
Rivière Romaine QC 50.280 -63.770 Single observation
Rivière Saint-Jean QC 48.780 -64.400 Historical observation
Rivière-Caplan QC 48.100 -65.680 Historical observation
Rose-Bridge QC 48.860 -64.480 Historical observation
Saint-Fabien Bay QC 48.323 -68.866 Historical observation
Saint-Nicolas Bay QC 49.300 -67.760 Historical observation
Saint-Siméon QC 48.060 -65.530 Historical observation
Sandy Beach QC 48.820 -64.430 Historical observation
Sept-Îles Bay QC 50.170 -66.105 Single observation
Southwestern sector of the Manicouagan Peninsula QC 49.030 -68.430 Historical observation
Trois-Pistoles QC 48.110 -69.220 Historical observation

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How this indicator was calculated

Note: The eelgrass distribution maps presented here should not be considered complete, as eelgrass is known to occur in other locations. The maps are a reflection of collected and published material on eelgrass, as of March 2020. Various data sources, with different data collection dates, have been combined. Eelgrass site categories include historical sites (data more than 10 years old), single observations and multiple observations within the last ten years, and sites where restoration efforts have occurred. In addition, site designations may represent individual eelgrass beds or larger areas with multiple eelgrass beds. See Table 1. Status of eelgrass sites for more information. Additional details are available in the detailed data table (Excel/CSV; 136 KB).
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2020).

The importance of eelgrass to ecosystems was shown after a widespread wasting disease outbreak along the Atlantic coast of North America in the 1930s resulted in a 90% loss of eelgrass. It is estimated that populations of migratory Brant geese along the Atlantic coast, which rely heavily on eelgrass outside the breeding season, declined by as much as 90%.Footnote 2 Declines of clams, lobsters, crabs, scallops, cod and flounder were also reported following the loss of eelgrass.Footnote 3

Eelgrass beds are highly productive and several studies have indicated that eelgrass beds contribute to the sequestration of "blue carbon" in marine sediments, providing a valuable ecosystem service in coastal areas.Footnote 4,Footnote 5

Eelgrass decreases can be associated with a number of environmental stressors that can work together to cause cumulative effects. Examples of environmental stressors include, physical disturbances from human activities or storm events and increased water temperature due to climate change. Other stressors, such as excessive nutrients causing an increase in algae and sedimentation can smother eelgrass or reduce light penetration. Invasive species, like European green crab, can also negatively affect eelgrass distribution.

Canada does not have a national scientific monitoring program with standardized methodologies for assessing eelgrass sites. Eelgrass data collection is ongoing, with data collected from many different sources using various methods. Data trends are difficult to detect as there is high natural variability in eelgrass beds over time and the interpretation of observed changes may not be consistent between measured variables. For example, a common stress response of eelgrass plants is to flower, thereby dispersing their seeds. This response may lead to an increase in eelgrass distribution that could mask the detection of the initial stress.

For the majority of documented eelgrass sites in Canada, there is only a single observation indicating the species' presence at a specific location. Some sites have monitoring data that include information about measures such as extent, shoot density, biomass and leaf length over multiple years.

About the indicator

About the indicator

What the indicator measures

The indicator shows compiled information on the distribution of eelgrass sites in Canada, including historical observations. It provides a snapshot of the locations where eelgrass has been studied in Canada.

Why this indicator is important

Eelgrass is a common seagrass species in Canadian coastal waters and has been described as an ecosystem engineer, because it physically changes its environment creating habitat and resources for other species. Eelgrass health is well-correlated with the success of many commercially harvested fish species, as eelgrass beds serve as nursery areas for juveniles.Footnote 6 Changes in eelgrass growth and distribution can have significant effects on coastal marine and estuarine (where fresh water meets sea water) ecosystems. Given the many ecosystem services provided including carbon sequestration, eelgrass has been designated an ecologically significant species in Canada. However, despite the environmental and economic benefits of seagrasses in general, their populations are declining globally.Footnote 7 

Healthy coasts and oceans

This indicator supports the measurement of progress towards the following 2019 to 2022 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy long-term goal: Coasts and oceans support healthy, resilient and productive ecosystems.

Related indicators

The Canadian species index indicator tracks average population trends for vertebrate species in Canada (including marine vertebrates) and is a good proxy measure of overall biodiversity trends.

The Status of major fish stocks and the Sustainable fish harvest indicators address the condition and management of wild fish stocks.

Canada's conserved areas indicators report the amount and proportion of Canada's terrestrial and marine area that is conserved.

Data sources and methods

Data sources and methods

Data sources

Eelgrass data used in this indicator were gathered and provided to Environment and Climate Change Canada by academic, government and community sources and were combined into a single inventory. 

More information

There is no national monitoring program for eelgrass. Scientists, managers and local communities collect data in different ways for different purposes. The presence of eelgrass can be detected using satellite images and aerial photos, however, for the information compiled to date most of the observations were obtained from field studies.

All Canadian eelgrass sites reported by data holders or found in the scientific literature were included in this indicator. When more than one series of observations existed for the same site, the most recent assessments were used. Site observations may be single observations or include information on multiple observations over time. Eelgrass sites are studied using different methods for different purposes.

The indicator reflects the state of knowledge as of March 2020.

Methods

Eelgrass sites were mapped using location and site history information. 

More information

Reported data may include measured variables such as shoot density, extent or biomass. When information for a site was available from more than one source, the site was considered to have multiple observations. Table 1 provides information on how the eelgrass beds were classified.

Table 1. Status of eelgrass sites
Status Description
Multiple observations Eelgrass presence at the site has been confirmed in multiple years within the last ten years.
Restored Site has been subject to restoration efforts.
Single observation Only 1 observation is available for the site.
Historical observation The latest observation at the site was made more than 10 years ago.

Caveats and limitations

The indicator contains information on eelgrass sites for which data has been provided. Other eelgrass sites exist.

Seasonal and annual variation in eelgrass beds is large. Furthermore, changes may not be consistent between measured variables: as an example, below-ground biomass can decrease while above-ground biomass is increasing. Structural differences in eelgrass beds occur along environmental gradients. Trends are, therefore, difficult to determine, and require several years of data. Note that an increase in leaf length or canopy height is a common response to light limitation and is a sign of stress, although such an increase can also occur in plants growing at the furthest extent of their potential depth range.

Data are collected from many different sources, each potentially using different methodologies. As such, considerable care must be taken when comparing and interpreting data from eelgrass sites.

Data quality and the geographical precision of mapping varies between data providers.

Resources

Resources

References

Department of Fisheries and Oceans (2009) Does Eelgrass (Zostera marina) meet the criteria as an ecologically significant species? Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat Science Advisory Report 2009/018. Retrieved on September 10, 2018.

Ganter B (2000) Seagrass (Zostera spp.) as food for brent geese (Branta bernicla): an overview. Helgoland Marine Research 54: 63–70. Retrieved on October 5, 2020.

Greiner JT, McGlathery KJ, Gunnell J, McKee BA (2013) Seagrass Restoration Enhances "Blue Carbon" Sequestration in Coastal Waters. PLOS ONE 8(8): e72469. Retrieved on October 5, 2020.

Hitchcock JK, Courtenay SC, Coffin MRS, Pater CC and van den Heuvel MR (2017) Eelgrass bed structure, leaf nutrient and leaf isotope responses to natural and anthropogenic gradients in estuaries of the Southern Gulf of St Lawrence, Canada. Estuaries and Coasts 40: 1653. Retrieved on September 10, 2018.

Muehlstein LK (1989) Perspectives on the wasting disease of eelgrass Zostera marina. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 7:211-221. Retrieved on October 5, 2020.

Poppe Katrina L, Rybczyk John M (2017) Carbon sequestration in a Pacific Northwest eelgrass (Zostera marina) meadow. Northwest Science 92(2): 80-91. Retrieved on October 5, 2020.

Postlethwaite VR, McGowan AE, Kohfeld KE, Robinson CLK, Pellatt MG (2018) Low blue carbon storage in eelgrass (Zostera marina) meadows on the Pacific Coast of Canada. PLOS ONE 13(6): e0198348. Retrieved on October 5, 2020.

Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (2018) Rhode Island's Coastal Habitats. Retrieved on October 5, 2018.

Smithsonian Institution (2018) Seagrass and Seagrass Beds. Retrieved on September 10, 2018.

Unsworth RKF, Nordlund LM, Cullen‐Unsworth LC (2018) Seagrass meadows support global fisheries production. Conservation Letters 12: e12566. Retrieved on September 10, 2018.

Related information

North American Blue Carbon, 2017

SeagrassNet, Global Seagrass Monitoring Network

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