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Seagrass Light Monitoring Network for Florida Bay

light monitor underwater

Since 1991, sediment resuspension and phytoplankton blooms have caused drastic declines in water column transparency in the western half of Florida Bay. Reduced light levels, in turn, have stressed seagrasses and macroalgae that survived initial die-off episodes between 1987 and 1990.

In 1990 Everglades National Park (ENP) personnel constructed platforms to hold monitoring equipment. In 1991, light monitoring was suspended for several years. Beginning in 1996, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute staff, in collaboration with ENP, stocked seven of these platforms with equipment to continuously monitor the photosynthetically active radiation (light) present at different depths of the water column.

This program is a long-term effort to measure sunlight available to seagrass at sites spread across Florida Bay. In addition, seasonal and episodic changes in water clarity due to phytoplankton blooms and sediment resuspension will be recorded.

Information from the light monitoring network will be used to calibrate optical models of water quality for Florida Bay to discern the relative contributions of color, chlorophyll, and sediment resuspension to light attenuation.