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Vanishing Seagrasses in Florida Coastal Waters

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On: Mon, Jul 12, 2010 at 2:30PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Most fisherman are aware of the biological importance of seagrasses, which are found not only in Florida waters, but in shallow bays and lagoons along coastal waters all over the world.

Seagrass meadows consist of one or more types of seagrasses, such as manatee grass, star grass, turtle grass, and more. These meadows play a vital part in supporting and protecting nurseries, as well as supplying an important food source to many different species of marine life.

Another important function of seagrass meadows is to improve the water quality, as well as reducing wave energy along the coastlines.

When navigating a boat around shallow estuaries and lagoons, the chance of cutting through the fragile seagrass meadows by bottoming out with the propeller is very high. But what many boaters don’t realize is that when damage occurs to the seagrass, it cannot automatically repair itself.

As a propeller makes contact with the delicate seagrass and cuts into the sand or mud floor, a trench is created which will not allow the seagrass to grow back. The trench is called a “propeller scar” and it causes immediate subsequent erosion to the area, which results in the creation of cloudy water from tidal flow and wave action that is most apparent around shallow areas of the ocean floor.

A seagrass restoration process has been organized in Miami by the Ocean Foundation, which also works to educate boaters on how to avoid damage to the seagrass. The group has also been involved in developing a process of repairing the seagrass meadows with biodegradable sediment tubes used to fill in the trenches. After the propeller scar is filled, PVC tubes are placed adjacent to the newly filled trench in order to attract seabirds that will fertilize the area around the propeller scar. Next a crew from the “Seagrass Recovery” organization will plant seagrass plugs. The entire process takes between 12 to 18 months to totally restore a propeller scar.

Boaters (and others) interested in volunteering to assist in the Seagrass Grow Project or would like more information on the Project than, please visit these internet sites: The Ocean Foundation @ , or Seagrass Recovery @

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