Restoring eelgrass in West Falmouth Harbor by installing conservation moorings

The effort to improve water quality in West Falmouth Harbor turned to a new front this fall with the first steps to replace roughly 20 percent of the boat moorings in outer West Falmouth Harbor to conservation moorings.

Conventional boat moorings include an anchor and chain that typically rest on the floor of the harbor and shift with the tide, dragging across the bottom and killing eelgrass in the process. By contrast, conservation moorings are designed to prevent damage to the harbor bottom, thus allowing plants to flourish and nitrogen-laden mud to stay in place providing another benefit.

These photos—taken by Maureen Thomas, the Coalition’s Water Resources Specialist—show the installation process conducted by Todd Taylor of West Falmouth Mooring Services (green shirt) and Ben Karson of Karson Marine Mooring Service (diving suit) to place the first pieces of equipment for the moorings.

Heading out to work
Payload of helix anchors
Prepping for installation
Anchor away
Into the water
Suiting up
Anchor driving time
Eelgrass growing
West Falmouth Harbor morning
Heading out to work

In collaboration with the Town of Falmouth and Harbormaster Gregg Fraser, the Buzzards Bay Coalition is organizing the effort to replace the moorings with grant funding from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Natural Resource Damages Restoration Fund, which was established as part of the settlement for the 2003 Bouchard B-120 oil spill in Buzzards Bay.

The model conservation moorings project is part of a larger effort by the Buzzards Bay Coalition to restore West Falmouth Harbor. Over the past four years, the organization has been facilitating the installation of nitrogen-reducing septic systems in environmentally sensitive areas around the harbor. The Coalition recently completed the effort to install 30 of these systems as a model for  significantly reducing sources of nitrogen pollution to the harbor.

Category: On the Bay

Working to Save Buzzards Bay

The Buzzards Bay Coalition is a membership-supported organization dedicated to improving the health of the Buzzards Bay ecosystem for all through education, conservation, research, and advocacy.

We work to protect clean water on the Bay and on the land: