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The Unsung Superhero of the Sea: Seagrass Awareness Month

In the azure waters off Florida’s coast, a silent hero thrives, often overlooked but indispensable to the health of our marine ecosystems: seagrass. These underwater meadows, teeming with life, are not just beautiful; they are crucial to the balance of our coastal environments.

Seagrass may not garner the same attention as coral reefs or mangrove forests, but its impact is just as important. These lush underwater gardens provide a nursery for a vast array of marine species, including fish, crustaceans, and mollusks. Juvenile fish seek refuge in the protective blades of seagrass, while manatees graze on its blades, relying on it for sustenance.

The restoration of Florida’s rapidly depleting seagrass meadows is vital to marine wildlife and the state’s economy. “Underwater plants are the lungs of the lagoon,” said Foundation Board Chair Carlos Alfonso. “Two-and-a-half acres of seagrass supports as many as 100,000 fish and 100 million invertebrates, in addition to providing manatees with a crucial food source.”

Beyond its role as a habitat, seagrass plays a vital role in maintaining water quality. Its dense root systems trap sediment, helping to stabilize the sea floor and prevent erosion. Seagrass absorbs nutrients and pollutants, acting as a natural filter that improves water clarity and quality. It also captures and stores carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, making it a powerful ally in mitigating the effects of climate change. In fact, acre for acre, seagrass meadows can sequester more carbon than many terrestrial forests.

Our Foundation is one of several groups working hard to restore Florida’s vital seagrass meadows. In Indian River Lagoon on Florida’s east coast, nutrient runoff and pollution have created toxic algae blooms that choked aquatic plants. We are committed to the long-term work of restoring the lagoon’s overall health by replanting vegetation at eight sites with promising water quality. Check out the progress of our planting site in the Loxahatchee River here!

In honor of Seagrass Awareness Month, support these projects by donating to our Marine Mammal Fund.

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