Eel Grass Project Shows Promise on Caloosahatchee River

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Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program

Efforts to restore lost seagrasses in the Caloosahatchee River are proving promising, with planting taking hold, growing and flowering. The toxic algae bloom prevented monitoring of the plantings for months; however, surveys of them last week revealed the following:

Site 1: (furthest downstream site): Eelgrass was observed in four of the five GrowSAV Herbivory Exclusion Devices The protective coverings were not removed during the initial inspection, but most likely has grazed upon grass inside as well.

Site 2 & 3: Eight of the ten planting sites had very dense Eelgrass! The grass is expanding outside of the GrowSAV Herbivory Exclusion Devices and flowering inside. A total of two flowers appeared to have been germinated and are producing seeds. It is believe that this is the first time in the 21st century where there has been seed pods growing in the lower river!

Site 4: The one planting site (of five total) where the GrowSAV Herbivory Exclusion Devices was secured to the bottom had eelgrass growing. The other four sites were compromised by grazers.

Site 5 (furthest upstream site): Sparse eelgrass was present, though this area appears to be negatively impacted by water depth and grazing from Blue Crabs.

"Making progress in restoring the seed source for the lost seagrass beds in the tidal Caloosahatchee is a tremendous achievement. Seagrasses are the base of our aquatic food chain, supporting everything from crabs to endangered manatees. Continuing this project to learn how and where we can replenish them will have a significant impact in improving our ability to restore water quality and the ecology in the area." said Jennifer Hecker, Executive Director of the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program.