Seagrass Restoration

seagrass with heavy grounding scars
Seagrasses in the park are heavily impacted by vessel groundings.

Florida Photo

Lobster in seagrass meadow.
Spiny lobster in seagrass meadow.

A. Bourque

Seagrass meadows are found throughout the park, and are important in providing food and habitat for fish, invertebrates, manatees, and turtles. Seagrasses also help maintain water clarity and cycle nutrients.

Seagrass grounding
Vessel grounding in seagrass habitat.

Just like the grass in your yard, seagrasses have belowground roots and rhizomes. The seagrass plants use these parts for stability and to exchange nutrients with the soil. Vessel groundings on seagrass shoals can cause serious damage, especially when the roots and rhizomes are destroyed.

Blowhole in seagrass habitat.
Vessel grounding blowhole in seagrass habitat.

Vessel groundings create trenches and "blowholes", and when the soil and plants are excavated, the seagrasses have a hard time growing back. These injuries may take several years to recover! Unfortunately, many shallow shoals in Biscayne National Park are heavily impacted by vessel groundings.

Filling a blowhole.
Filling a blowhole in seagrass habitat.

A. Bourque

The park's Habitat Restoration Program conducts seagrass restoration at vessel grounding injuries, with the goal of accelerating recovery. Each year, the program tries to restore several grounding sites.

bird stakes
Bird roosting stakes provide fertilizer to a seagrass restoratio site.

A. Bourque

Commonly used restoration methods include filling excavations, applying fertilizer by using bird roosting stakes, and transplanting seagrasses. Restored sites are monitored for a period of several years to track recovery.

Parrotfish at seagrass restoration site.
Parrotfish at seagrass restoration site.

Last updated: April 14, 2015

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