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Why Seagrass is Worth Protecting

Photo by Jimmy White of Bradenton

BRADENTON -- The importance of seagrass is easy to overlook because its unseen at the bottom of various waterways. Being mostly out of sight doesn't diminish its importance to ecology, fishing, aquatic life, and the fragile Sarasota Bay ecosystem.

Sarasota Bay is the home to five species of seagrass: shoal grass, turtle grass, manatee grass, widgeon grass, and star grass. The habitat rebounded by 25 percent since 1950 following dredging operations that destroyed seagrass to accommodate the development of channels for boats as well as private homes and boat slips for large watercraft.

The total number of seagrass acres in Sarasota Bay is estimated to be more than 12,500. In 1988, the total was 8,650 acres. A recent report from the Southwest Florida Water Management District's Surface Water Improvement Management Program (SWIM) reports a one percent decrease in coverage over the past couple years. The report said the decrease was within the statistical margin of error.


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