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UF/IFAS and Florida Sea Grant Researchers Test Water Quality Following Harmful Algal Blooms Using Wild Sponges

UF/IFAS and Florida Sea Grant researchers have tracked over a 15-20 year period how wild sponge populations in Florida Bay recover from harmful algal blooms.

Healthy sponge populations in the Florida Keys maintain good water quality and flourishing habitat for spiny lobsters and stone crabs. A a series of harmful algal blooms has essentially eliminated once-thriving sponge communities over large areas of Florida Bay and the Keys. Are they too far gone? With Florida Sea Grant funding, researchers are now testing techniques to see if they can accelerate the restoration process.

This information has played an important role in fishery management decisions and has helped guide efforts to restore marine sponge populations. Outcomes effectively demonstrate the way that unique university expertise and partnerships with a variety of state and federal partners can make a measurable improvement for water quality.

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Written by Dorothy Zimmerman