Sea and Shoreline is Helping Saving Florida's Marine Life with Seagrass

Business

BY ARIEL CHATES SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING THURSDAY NOV 5, 2020

The Great Barrier Reef bleached an eerie white. A lone polar bear floating on a melting ice-cap. An orangutan sitting on the single tree left in a rainforest. These are the harrowing images that are always the first to pop to mind when thinking of the world’s climate crisis. They can seem overwhelming and morbid, but they serve a greater purpose: to wake us up and motivate people to help save the planet. 

One such company dedicated to reversing the damages of our reliance on fossil fuels, is Sea & Shoreline of Ruskin, Florida. Started in 2014 by Jim Anderson, Sea & Shoreline aims to restore the seagrass habitats of Florida’s waters. His basic philosophy is, “The environment is very forgiving and if we as humans can recognize our mistakes and are willing to change, the environment will take over from there.” 

Their pilot project began in Crystal River, after noticing a significant decline in water quality. The native vegetation had been completely overrun by invasive plants and algae, destroying the natural habitat. Local residents banded together to clean up their waters by contracting with Sea & Shoreline to dredge up the harmful plants and plant new, healthy seagrass. What started as a small dream for renewal in a three-acre plot, has now grown to a full-scale operation covering forty-six acres of restoration, Sea & Shoreline’s largest project to date. 

Restoring and protecting seagrass is important because it helps to stabilize sediment; clean and add oxygen to the water; cycle nutrients; provide food, habitat, and protection for fish and animals; and sequester carbon that can impact climate change. A nursery at their Ruskin aquaculture facility grows different species and strains of seagrass collected throughout the state act that acts as a “genetic library,” where they can source the needed seagrasses for different projects.

Our neighbors in Bradenton have enlisted their services to bring twenty-fix new seagrass plants to the beach as a small seagrass patch in addition to planting clams there. This will help two-fold, by giving the beach a chance to regrow and providing the Sea & Shoreline staff with helpful information on the benefits of farm-raised clams growing in tandem with the grass. In addition to seagrass projects, the team at Sea & Shoreline also restores oyster and coral reefs, and helps fix “scars” created by boat propellers in seagrass beds. These scars grow bigger with the tides and can wipe out the entire seagrass bed further harming the eco-system.

These projects might not be front-page news, but they are a vital part of rebuilding the natural lifecycle of our marine habitats that have been injured over the years. Seagrass loss is a huge issue not only in Florida but globally, and it is reported that almost 7% is lost each year. Ryan Brushwood, Lead Biologist on Sea & Shoreline’s Aquatic Science Team hopes their efforts can, “try to reverse the negative impacts that humans have made while also giving back some positives.”

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