Florida Plays Host to Abundant Seagrass

Protection of these important habitats is vital for coastal economies

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Romona Robbins

Along Florida’s west coast, seagrass meadows bolster economic activity by nurturing commercially important fish, stone crabs, and shrimp and drawing tourists from around the world for manatee watching, scalloping, fishing, snorkeling, and paddle sports. A seagrass habitat of about 400,000 acres along the state’s Nature Coast—which encompasses the Gulf of Mexico shorelines of Citrus, Hernando, and Pasco counties north of Tampa—is one of the healthiest in the state. But it faces growing threats, including degraded water quality, changing ocean conditions, and damage from careless boaters. Conserving Florida’s seagrass is vital for the economies and way of life of coastal communities in the region.

HOMOSASSA, FLORIDA
HOMOSASSA, FLORIDA
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Community Voices Are Key to Florida's Coast

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Florida’s Nature Coast Aquatic Preserve, created in June 2020, spans spans more than 700 square miles along the coasts of Citrus, Hernando, and Pasco counties and protects coastal habitat, including part of the Gulf of Mexico’s largest seagrass meadow, as well as sponge fields, mangrove forests, oyster reefs, and salt marshes. These ecosystems provide habitat for a vast array of marine animals and form the backbone of the region’s coastal economy.

CRYSTAL RIVER, FLORIDA
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Healthy Seagrass Harbors Diverse Marine Life

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Seagrass meadows are home to an astounding array of ocean life. Manatees and turtles nourish themselves on the swaying blades. Young fish begin life there, and shrimp and crabs find shelter.

Seagrass
Seagrass
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9 Facts About One of Earth’s Most Vital Habitats

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Seagrass—underwater plants that form dense beds extending for miles—play host to animals ranging from scallops and fish to crabs and shrimp, all of which are vital to marine ecosystems and many coastal businesses.

Seagrass
Seagrass
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Seagrass Is Vital to Wildlife and Ocean Health

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An approximately 400,000-acre habitat along Florida’s Nature Coast—which encompasses the shorelines of Citrus, Hernando, and Pasco counties bordering the Gulf of Mexico north of Tampa—is one of the healthiest seagrass habitats in the state.

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