Seagrass Awareness Month

A listing of the animals seen in the slideshow is at the end of this post.

IGOR chip- habitat 150March is Seagrass Awareness Month, so it seems a fitting time to share some photos we took last fall.  Seagrass beds are an under-appreciated habitat; they’re very productive and are more important than meets the eye (here I admit that neither seagrass beds or salt marshes seemed all that interesting to me until I actually went into them and took a closer look).  Here are a few quick facts:

  • Approximately 85% of commercial and recreationally fished species in Florida spend some time in a seagrass bed.
  • Of the 60 or so seagrass species, turtlegrass (Thalassia testudinum) is the dominant in Florida- it’s the species of grass in the slideshow above.
  • Seagrass meadows absorb 10-15% of the carbon absorbed by the ocean, which overall absorbs about 25% of global carbon emissions.
  • Like salt marshes, seagrass beds slow waves and accrue sediment.  The wave absorption protects shorelines from being battered and the sediment filtered from the water helps clean it.
  • As sited earlier by Randall, a recent study has shown that 58% of seagrass habitats are in decline.  If you look at all of the services provided by these habitats, you can see that this is cause for concern.

We should have a video on seagrass beds soon, as part of a new endeavor we are undertaking (stay tuned).  In the meantime, I refer you back to Randall’s post on seagrass beds and epiphytic algae, and her post (with a video hosted by graduate student Emily Field) on Emily’s study of seagrass wrack, the blades of grass that slough off and impact other systems such as salt marshes.  For more information Seagrass Awareness Month, visit the Florida Department of Environmental Protection web site.

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The animals in the slideshow above are, in order (and excluding fish):

  1. Bay Scallop (4th pic)
  2. Sea Star (5th and 6th pics)
  3. Spider Crab (8th and 9th pics)
  4. Crown Conch (10th pic)
  5. Lightning Whelk egg case (11th pic- these are similar to crown conch egg cases)
  6. Sea Urchin (14th pic)
  7. Horse Conch (15th pic)

We will have a Meet the Species page for North Florida Seagrass Beds up soon.

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About Rob Diaz de Villegas

Rob Diaz de Villegas is a senior producer for WFSU-TV, covering outdoors and ecology. Early in his television career, Rob focused on music production. After a couple of years of producing and editing Spanish and bilingual music video shows in San Antonio, Rob returned to Tallahassee in 2002 to resume production of his local music performance show, OutLoud. From that, he transitioned to local music documentaries, until one day he found himself standing in a muddy salt marsh with a camera, and his life was changed forever. Rob created this blog for a National Science Foundation funded marine biology project called In the Grass, On the Reef. No one asked Rob to expand on this work and cover all ecology in our area, but it seemed like a good thing to do. Subsequent projects under the Ecology Blog umbrella include EcoShakespeare (funded by WNET and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting) and Roaming the Red Hills (funded by Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy). His most recent documentary follows the lives of four red wolf pups born at the Tallahassee Museum, apex predators that once hunted in our local wild spaces. Rob is married with two young sons, and they try to have outdoor family adventures as often as possible (you might see them on the blog from time to time).