Florida Pays Tribute to the State's Seagrasses
Governor Scott names March 2013 Seagrass Awareness Month
Governor Rick Scott proclaimed March 2013 Seagrass Awareness Month, the 12th annual
statewide recognition from the Executive Office of the Governor. As noted in the
Governor's proclamation, "awareness of the problems facing this vital natural resource
will help to create an understanding of the way seagrass damage can impact both the
economic and ecological value of our marine resources." Recreational divers, snorkelers
and fishing enthusiasts from around the world visit Florida's coastal areas to experience
the state's world-class marine resources and more than 90% of Florida's recreational and
commercial fisheries depend on seagrasses for part of their lifespan.
"Seagrass habitat provides a variety of functions that contribute to a healthy and viable
marine ecosystem," said Coastal and Aquatic Managed Areas Director, Kevin Claridge. "These
valuable underwater grasses are one of the many natural resources that Floridians and visitors
can work together to protect and preserve now and for future generations."
Considered to be one of the most productive ecosystems in the world, seagrasses are flowering
underwater grasses found in estuaries, lagoons and shallow, open shelves along Florida's
coastline. Florida is home to seven species of seagrass. The multimillion-dollar recreational
and commercial fishing industry depends on healthy seagrasses to protect young fish and
shellfish, coral reefs and other marine wildlife, including sea turtles, manatees and wading
birds. A single acre of seagrass may support as many as 40,000 fish.
Over the years, Florida has established 41 aquatic preserves whose mission includes protecting
this essential marine resource. Education and outreach is just one element of this protection.
For example, the Gasparilla Sound-Charlotte Harbor
Aquatic Preserve program in Charlotte County monitors
seagrass health at 52 stations located on 160,000 acres.
The Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserve, which spans
more than 980,000 acres, has a monitoring project that
evaluates current conditions and identifies management
needs of this vital resource. Additionally, preservation
efforts at Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves in Miami-Dade
and Monroe counties are helping to save Johnson's
seagrass, a threatened seagrass that exists only in
Seagrass destruction is a serious problem and has become more intense and widespread. Boaters
can help to protect this vital resource by following these tips:
- Know the waters where you plan to boat.
- Use current nautical charts of the area.
- Use marked channels where they exist and stay in deep water.
- When in doubt about the depth, slow down and idle. Make sure the bow of the boat is down and
the motor is trimmed or tilted up.
- Know the tides. The greatest range of tides occurs during a full-moon and new-moon. Use extra
caution when boating on a low tide.
- If you do run into a seagrass flat, stop immediately and tilt your engine.
For more information on Florida's seagrasses, visit
To view the Governor's proclamation for Seagrass Awareness Month, visit