How to Protect Seagrass

Overview

Oxygen producing seagrasses live underwater. They help to clarify water by trapping sediments and protect small fish by offering a refuge. Their root system stabilizes the ocean floor, and they provide food for sea mammals. Throughout the world, 52 species of seagrass exist, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Found in the ocean, seagrass also grows in lagoons and bays. Despite their widespread value to the environment, seagrass is destroyed by a wide range of sources, many of them human caused. Seagrass can be protected through a few simple measures.

Step 1

Reduce or eliminate the use of chemical fertilizers. Chemical fertilizers applied to fields, lawns and ornamental landscape plants run off during heavy rains into storm drains and into the ocean. As the chemicals accumulate in the waterways, the seagrass suffers severe die-back.

Step 2

Catch and release large fish back into the ocean. Large fish consume tiny pinfish. When overfishing occurs the large fish are removed from the ocean area, so the pinfish thrive and grow. The pinfish consume grazer fish types, which makes the seagrass suffer overgrowth and extreme shading. When seagrass suffers weak growth it is more susceptible to storm damage and being uprooted.

Step 3

Boat carefully through areas of seagrass. A boat's propeller does significant damage to seagrass so limit the use of the propeller in such areas. Use oars or avoid seagrass areas completely. Consider drifting or using a pole to maneuver the boat. Use a shallow trolling motor to limit damage.

Step 4

Use only designated boat lanes in areas with boat lanes. Do not venture out of the lanes or the seagrass could sustain damage.

Step 5

Cease building docks on seaside homes. Docks shade the seagrass and causes it to die from lack of light. If a dock must be built, then use grafting to allow the light to reach the seagrass and build the dock 5 feet above water.

Step 6

Wear polarized sunglasses when boating in areas with seagrass. The glasses will help see beneath the seas surface by reducing the sun's glare. This helps make seagrass more visible so it can be avoided.

Things You'll Need

  • Polarized sunglasses

References

  • Florida Department of Environment: Protecting Seagrasses
  • Amy H. Remley Foundation: Protecting Seagrasses
  • The Nature Conservatory: Nature Conservancy pilot project to protect seagrass for sport fish in upper Laguna Madre
  • Texas Parks and Wildlife: Seagrass Protection Regulation
  • Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission: Help Protect Seagrass

Who Can Help

  • CRC Reef Research Center: Seagrasses in Queenslands Waters
Keywords: saving seagrass, seagrass protection, protecting seagrasses

About this Author

Kimberly Sharpe is a freelance writer with a diverse background. She has worked as a Web writer for the past four years. She writes extensively for Associated Content where she is both a featured home improvement contributor (with special emphasis on gardening) and a parenting contributor. She also writes for Helium. She has worked professionally in the animal care and gardening fields.