Good news in seagrass recovery in Tampa Bay, Sarasota Bay, Charlotte Harbor

Good news in seagrass recovery in Tampa Bay, Sarasota Bay, Charlotte Harbor

Saturday, May 14, 2016

"Seagrass coverage across Tampa Bay, Sarasota Bay, and Charlotte Harbor has recovered and surpassed levels not seen since the 1950s," write the respective heads of the three National Estuary Programs named for those areas in a May 12 guest column in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

The significance of that recovery is detailed in their column as well as an accompanying Herald-Tribune editorial, which notes, "Seagrass coverage is one of the key indicators of the inshore marine environment." For example, seagrass provides food and shelter for 70 percent of local fishery species in these regions.

The pieces go on to list such highlights as:

  • seagrass coverage in Tampa Bay has nearly doubled since 1982;
  • coverage in Sarasota Bay has increased 41 percent over restorable 1950s acreage;
  • and Charlotte Harbor has seen an increase in coverage of 22 percent since 1999, as well as increases in every segment of the Harbor since 2008. (Recent gains in Charlotte Harbor are also discussed in this news release from the Southwest Florida Water Management District.)

While seagrass coverage is not currently among the environmental indicators tracked on this site, it is nonetheless an important indicator of the health of our marine environment, with implications for our regional economy and quality of life. To learn about other Gulf Coast environmental indicators, including beach contamination rates and land dedicated to conservation, go here.