Springs Coast Seagrass Monitoring

Scientists are evaluating the health of seagrass beds in the Springs Coast region.
map showing seagrass sampling sites along Springs Coast, caption belowSprings Coast sampling sites (green dots)
are selected randomly, one to three
in each section of the grid.
 

In September 2012, scientists with the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) completed the first year of a three-year field sampling effort to characterize seagrass health and distribution from Anclote Key in northern Pinellas County north to Crystal River in Citrus County along Florida’s Springs Coast. Seagrass beds along the Springs Coast were not monitored prior to this project; therefore, it will help scientists close a significant information gap, as the Springs Coast is home to the third largest contiguous seagrass bed in the continental U.S.

FWRI scientists sampled 150 randomly selected points from one to 12 miles offshore. At each site, they assessed total cover of all seagrass and large algae species present, and measured salinity, water temperature, sunlight at the bottom, pH (acidity) and dissolved oxygen. They also collected water samples to analyze color; turbidity; total suspended solids; and concentrations of chlorophyll-a, nitrogen and phosphorus. This information will be used to characterize the condition of the seagrass plants and water in which they live. In 2013 and 2014, researchers will repeat the late-summer sampling and, after analyzing the information collected, provide an evaluation of the health and composition of seagrass beds along the Springs Coast.

The project is funded by a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service State Wildlife Grant and is part of FWRI’s statewide Seagrass Integrated Mapping and Monitoring Program (SIMM). For a complete report of SIMM projects, read the SIMM Report No. 1.



FWC Facts:
Fines for damaging seagrasses take into account their economic and environmental importance and the costs of assessing and repairing damage.

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