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FWC to transplant seagrass within St. Andrew Bay for habitat restoration

eelgrass in hand above water prior to being planted
Media contact: Ryan Sheets, 727-282-7642 or Release Date: 04-10-2024   All Articles Tags:

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will conduct aquatic habitat restoration within West Bay (St. Andrew Bay) in Panama City during April and May. FWC staff will first harvest native seagrass from abundant beds on site and transplant the collected material to the western shoreline, which has suffered significant loss over the past 60 years.

The FWC, in partnership with Ecosphere Restoration Institute and its contractor AquaTech Eco Consultants, will be transplanting approximately 28,800 native Cuban shoal grass (Halodule wrightii) planting units across six acres in April and May as part of Ecosphere’s statewide seagrass restoration initiative. The FWC will monitor survival thereafter to ensure the seagrass habitat recovers. Methods for this project will follow seagrass restoration techniques that were successfully implemented with shoal grass in West Bay in 2019 and 2021. Shoal grass is known as a seagrass pioneer species that grows quickly and stabilizes the sediment for other species to colonize. This is the most common seagrass species in West Bay and will provide excellent habitat for local fish and wildlife, sediment stabilization and water quality improvement. 

The FWC has completed a series of aquatic habitat restoration and enhancement projects since 2014 to restore approximately 200 acres of seagrass habitat loss along West Bay’s western shoreline. Starting with subtidal oyster reef construction in 2015, the FWC has since constructed approximately 5 acres of oyster reefs to improve water quality and clarity through oyster filtration, reduce suspended sediments, mitigate wind-driven wave energy, provide habitat for fish and wildlife, increase oyster populations, and facilitate seagrass recovery in the project area. Following construction of these reefs, the FWC completed successful seagrass restoration in 2019 and 2021 to further facilitate seagrass recovery through natural recruitment and transplanting efforts.

For more information about this project, contact Becca Hatchell, FWC associate research scientist, at 850-630-2866. To discover aquatic habitat restoration projects across the state, visit