This is a statewide, collaborative program which facilitates the collection and publication of monitoring and mapping data for Florida seagrasses in order to assess the status and trends of this vital ecosystem.
Florida seagrass beds are extremely valuable marine habitats. Many economically important fish and shellfish species depend on seagrass beds for critical stages of their life history. Seagrasses provide food and shelter for endangered mammals and turtles and play a role in nutrient cycles, sediment stabilization, coastal biodiversity, and the global carbon cycle. Seagrasses cover nearly 2.5 million acres of shallow sediments near Florida's coastline and in its estuaries and bays. An additional 2 million acres likely exist offshore in deeper waters in the Big Bend region and off the southwest Florida coast.
During the 20th century, seagrasses experienced large declines in acreage, as well as changes in species and in the density and size of beds. Recognizing the value of seagrass beds spurred agencies and governments, from local to federal, to restore and protect this resource. The FWC's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute developed the Seagrass Integrated Mapping and Monitoring (SIMM) program to protect and manage seagrasses in Florida by providing a collaborative resource for seagrass mapping, monitoring, and data sharing. The SIMM program works with scientists statewide to facilitate and coordinate mapping and monitoring of seagrasses and to report findings and assessments of seagrass health online. A statewide report and chapters on each estuary or coastal region are in an easy-to-read format that provides scientists, resource managers, legislators, and other stakeholders a summary of the status of seagrasses in Florida. Given the budget problems that many agencies face, the program also works to leverage resources and to decrease and share costs of seagrass mapping and monitoring.
View and/or download the statewide report and chapters.
Contact us with any questions or comments regarding the SIMM program.