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TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) helps protect natural resources like seagrasses which are an invaluable component of Florida’s coastal waters and are considered to be one of the most productive ecosystems in the world. The flowering underwater grasses are found in estuaries, lagoons and shallow, open shelves along Florida’s coastline.
“Seagrass habitat provides a variety of functions that contribute to a healthy and viable marine ecosystem,” said DEP Secretary Michael W. Sole. “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.”
Florida is home to seven species of seagrasses. Recreational divers, snorkelers and fishing enthusiasts from around the world visit Florida’s coastal areas to experience the state’s world-class marine resources. A single acre of seagrass may support as many as 40,000 fish and more than 70 percent of Florida’s recreational and commercial fisheries depend on these underwater gardens for part of their lifespan. Healthy seagrasses protect young fish and shellfish, coral reefs and other marine wildlife, including sea turtles, manatees and wading birds and contribute to Florida’s multimillion-dollar recreational and commercial fishing industry.
Florida has 41 established aquatic preserves whose mission is to safeguard this essential marine resource. The following tips for boaters can help to protect the state’s fragile seagrass community:
To view the Governor’s proclamation for Seagrass Awareness Month, visit http://www.dep.state.fl.us/secretary/news/2010/03/files/seagrass.pdf
"Seagrass habitat provides a variety of functions that contribute to a healthy and viable marine ecosystem."
Michael W. Sole
Last updated: March 12, 2010