The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) continues its conservation of valuable seagrass beds in Florida’s coastal waters with a second edition of its statewide report.
Scientists and collaborators from agencies across Florida, including researchers with the Seagrass Integrated Mapping and Monitoring Program of the FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, published new information this month on seagrass health and status. Each of the 23 regional chapters includes color-coded status reports of seagrass health, as well as maps of the distribution of seagrass beds in each estuary or subregion.
More than 40 scientists from agencies across Florida work to map and monitor seagrasses statewide and report assessments of seagrass health online.
Using available data, researchers estimated there are approximately 2.5 million acres of seagrass in estuaries and nearshore waters of Florida. These are the largest beds of seagrasses found in the continental United States. Florida seagrass beds are extremely valuable marine habitats. Many economically important fish and shellfish species depend on seagrass beds for their survival. Seagrasses provide food and shelter for endangered mammals and turtles, and also play a vital role in the ecosystem.
The seagrass monitoring program was developed in 2009 to protect and manage seagrasses in Florida by providing a collaborative resource for seagrass mapping, monitoring and data sharing. The statewide report provides a summary of the status of seagrasses in Florida.
The report’s second edition was funded by grants from the FWC’s State Wildlife Grants Program and the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
The Seagrass Integrated Mapping and Monitoring Program’s statewide report and copies of individual regional chapters can be downloaded by going to MyFWC.com/Research, clicking “Habitat,” then “Seagrasses,” “Seagrass Projects” and “Active Projects.”