March is Seagrass Awareness Month in Florida!
Seagrasses are a valuable part of the marine environment and support our local economy. Most commercial and recreationally important fish, crabs and shrimp spend some time of their lives in seagrass beds! Not only do these underwater grass beds help keep water clean, but they also provide food and shelter for young fish, shrimp and crabs. Endangered species, such as manatees and green sea turtles, depend on seagrass beds for food! Seagrasses, clean water and natural resources play a vital role in the economy of NW Florida. To ensure a healthy environment and economy for future generations, let’s work together to limit our impacts on our natural areas!
Do your part to protect seagrasses:
• If you run aground in a seagrass bed, turn off your engine, tilt up the engine and walk or pole your boat out of the shallow water.
• Be safe and know water depths and locations of seagrass beds by studying navigational charts.
• Seagrasses are usually found in shallow water and appear as dark spots on the water. Wear polarized sunglasses (to reduce glare) to help locate these areas.
• Always choose to use a pump-out station.
• Stay in marked channels.
• To reduce pollution from entering our waterways, keep a buffer of plants along your shoreline. This will also help to protect your property from erosion and slow flood waters during storm events.
• To save money, plant native plants that don’t require lots of fertilizers and pesticides.
• Avoid seagrass beds when planning for dredging activities or pier construction.
• Maintain septic tanks.
In your community:
• Families and children can get out and snorkel these areas! Many sites are easy to access from public parks.
• Get involved with local organizations that promote nature protection.
• Working together, we can tell other community members what we have learned about seagrasses at the seagrass awareness festival.
• Don’t litter!
Extension Service programs are open to all people without regard to race, color, sex, age, handicap or national origin.