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NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — Underwater grasses that provide vital places for fish and crab to dwell and hide from predators covered more than 100,000 acres of the Chesapeake Bay last year.

News outlets reported Tuesday that the Virginia Institute of Marine Science found more than 104,000 acres of grasses across the estuary. It was a third straight year grass acreage grew, gaining by 5 percent from 2016 to 2017.

Chesapeake Bay Program officials say survey results show that its work with bay watershed states to limit pollution flowing into the waterways is working.

The grasses are a key element of the bay ecosystem. They absorb excess nutrients and trap suspended sediment, among other things.

Some Pollutants can cloud water, blocking sunlight from reaching the grasses and stunting their growth, if not killing them.