Grass beds in the Chesapeake Bay's shallow waters are known as submerged aquatic vegetation or SAV. The Chesapeake Bay has more than a dozen native species, including wild celery, common waterweed, and redhead grass. Species vary according to salinity, among other factors. The wild celery is a freshwater species, while wigeon grass tolerates very brackish water and eel grass can live in pure seawater. Eel grass is a variety of subaquatic vegetation that is present in the Chesapeake Bay in both Maryland and Virginia. Eel grass is also commonly known as wild celery or tape grass, despite these being of the names of other varieties of SAV. It is able to tolerate a wide range of salinities, but it is typically found in the soft sediments of the lower intertidal zones of the Chesapeake Bay, estuaries and slights with over lying waters and low turbulence. Eel grass naturally filters and traps sediment flowing through the ecosystem, it reduces shoreline erosion by minimizing wave energy.
The grass beds in the Chesapeake Bay have been extremely hard hit in the past several decades. An overall decline in water quality and higher sedimentation have been major contributors to the decline. Additionally, nutrients from car exhausts and power plant emissions are carried for miles in air currents and settle in the bay. Such nutrients include carbon and nitrogen which are emitted into the air. The federal and local governments have made progress in slowing this point-source pollution "pollution that comes from an obvious source such as a factory's smokestack or a certain underground pipe. The nonpoint sources such as fertilized farms and lawns, animal and human waste, and construction sites are much harder to identify as the individual source, they can only be generalized. Pollution from these sources runs off into waterways or seeps into groundwater, often traveling many miles from the point of origin to reach the bay.