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Seagrass beds struggle to grow along Southwest Florida's coastline

Posted at 8:16 AM, May 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-17 08:19:08-04

BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. — It was only a short boat ride to one of the many seagrass beds Dr. James Douglass and his team are monitoring from their Florida Gulf Coast Vester Field Station in Bonita Springs.

“We’re really not doing well with our seagrass recovery here," said Dr. Douglass.

Dr. Douglass found samples of seagrass at one bed in the South Estero Bay area.

He said that area of seagrass has been struggling to grow because it's in a high boat traffic area and it also sees a lot of pollution.

“So Tampa Bay aggressively reduced their nutrient pollution to get their Bay back.”

Dr. Douglass said they accomplished this by making investments in wastewater treatment and creating regulations on fertilizer.

While those projects took time to plan, he mentioned a few things we can start doing now to make a difference. For example, he said boaters can make an impact by making a few changes while out on the water.

“You need to make sure you’re not scaring the seagrass areas with your propeller. That means learning the water and staying out of the shallows where the seagrass is.”

He also said using less fertilizer and having more native plants around your home can cut back on pollution. Dr. Douglass stressed this isn’t just important to persevere our wildlife, but it’s also important for our local economy.

“There are all kinds of little shrimp and snails that live in the seagrass that provide fish food. And that’s of course, the fish we like to catch that are important for our economy and recreation.”