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Water-Related News

Seagrass in Sarasota Bay drops to 12-year low

Data show an 18% decrease in Sarasota Bay, or a loss of 2,300 acres of sea grass.

Following a variety of environmental and man-made factors, Sarasota Bay is experiencing a 12-year low in seagrass growth.

Preliminary results from the Southwest Florida Water Management District show an 18% decline in seagrass across Sarasota Bay, Roberts Bay and Little Sarasota Bay from 2018 to 2020. The loss equates to a total loss of 2,300 acres of sea grass.

Blackburn Bay showed a slight increase of about 13 acres, but the total acreage of seagrass coverage in the area is down from 12,853 in 2018 to 10,540 in 2020, officials reported. Seagrass levels have not been so low since 2008.

Seagrass is an important indicator of water quality and ecosystem health because it serves a variety of purposes.

Seagrass act as a carbon filter and buffer against climate change by reducing pollutants from the water. It also supports 70% of commercial fish species in Florida and provides food and shelter for other marine organisms.

Although there are many reasons for the loss, factors such as red tide, Hurricane Irma and various human impacts have increased the level of harmful nutrients in the bay.