A record amount of underwater grass has been reported in the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake Bay.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources said Thursday that there are 59,277 acres of underwater grass in the state's portion of the nation's largest estuary.
Underwater grass is important, because it is a key indicator of improving water clarity and quality. It is the fourth straight year bay grasses have increased.
The latest finding represents a 10 percent increase from 2015. The agency also says it surpasses Maryland's 2017 restoration goal of 57,000 acres, one year ahead of schedule.
Underwater grasses absorb and filter out nutrients and sediment, reduce shoreline erosion and provide habitat and protection for species like the blue crab and largemouth bass.