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Seagrass Restoration Efforts

The Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection (RCP) works with other agencies to find ways to better protect seagrasses and to return them to areas where they have been lost.

One of the major threats to seagrass is prop scars. The damage caused by prop scars can take years to heal. Severe or repeated prop scarring can completely denude seagrass beds. In St. Martins Marsh in Citrus County, RCP has partnered with the Nature Conservancy to stabilize and restore prop scars with sediment tubes. Sediment tubes accomplish this by returning the scarred areas to ambient elevations, preventing additional erosion and scouring by water currents, and protecting rhizomes from excessive sunlight exposure. The technique involves installing biodegradable fabric tubes filled with sediment into scarred areas that biodegrade in about 12 months. Seagrass beds can be fertilized passively to encourage regrowth through bird roosts.

RCP is experimenting with a variety of replanting methods throughout the state. These projects have been conducted in Charlotte Harbor, Indian River Lagoon, Biscayne Bay, the Big Bend, the Florida Keys, St. Joseph Bay and Big Lagoon (near Gulf Islands National Seashore). Results have been mixed, and RCP is continuing to monitor these projects and work with other researchers to find more effective ways to revegetate the bottom.

RCP also is working with the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission to develop a restoration plan for the nation's only marine plant to be listed on the ESA as 'Threatened' - Johnson's seagrass (Halophila johnsonii). With the help of Miami-Dade County Department of Environmental Resources Management, RCP has observed Johnson's seagrass outside of its known critical habitat range and has identified several areas in Biscayne Bay as potential restoration sites.

Last Modified:
November 26, 2019 - 5:09pm

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