Effort to save lots of manatees goes underwater with planting of seagrass nursery

SATELLITE BEACH, Fla. — Sustaining a backyard might be exhausting work.

Attempt doing it underwater.

It might not seem like it at first look, however in a lagoon on Florida’s East Coast, there may be an underwater lawn-in-the-making – with seagrasses.

“It is lovely. It is completely lovely,” mentioned Nicholas Sanzone, environmental applications coordinator with the metropolis of Satellite tv for pc Seashore, Florida. “We’re not attempting to repair every little thing with this. We’re looking for out what works.”

The 156-mile Indian River Lagoon is generally dwelling to acres upon acres of seagrasses. But, big swaths of them have died, which is creating an even bigger downside for the creatures that depend on them.

“There’s been an enormous mortality of manatees,” mentioned Dennis Hanisak, a analysis professor at Florida Atlantic College’s Harbor Department Oceanographic Institute. “It’s extremely clear that it is on account of hunger. The principal meals of manatees is seagrass.”

Final 12 months, greater than 1,000 manatees died alongside Florida’s waters – a record-breaking quantity.

They’re ravenous as a result of runoff air pollution from farms, fertilizers from folks’s yards, amongst different issues, ultimately find yourself within the water. That runoff creates extra intense algae blooms, which block daylight from reaching seagrasses, killing them off.

“Sadly, every little thing has sort of come to a head within the final two years,” Hanisak mentioned. “However it’s been one thing that is been within the making for a very long time.”

Within the short-term, manatee rescue applications are attempting to feed the creatures lettuce to assist them survive, but it surely’s not a long-term resolution.

That is the place FAU’s Hanisak is available in: in a sequence of tanks, he and a group are rising seagrasses on the college’s campus.

Utilizing coolers, they acquire and take the seagrasses to be transplanted into the water, with assist from volunteers like registered nurse Susan Milette.

“I’ve taken care of recent mothers and new infants and labored in a nursery. And the seagrass is the nursery for all aquatic life,” she mentioned. “So, it simply segways proper into what I do: what I like professionally and what we have to do for our future.”

Utilizing oyster shells, they created a dividing line within the lagoon, between the seagrass nursery and the open water, the place the grasses have been as soon as plentiful. If it really works, this venture could possibly be utilized elsewhere.

“Australia is doing seagrass restoration,” Sanzone mentioned. “The Chesapeake Bay space has already finished a fantastic job at oyster restoration and we have realized from them.”

By Sanzone’s work, town of Satellite tv for pc Seashore is partnering with FAU on this system.

“Because the clams and oysters are filtering out the water, that helps that water high quality, which permits the seagrasses to have higher visibility, to allow them to develop with extra daylight,” he mentioned.

One potential profit may ultimately assist save the manatees and restore a stability to the waters all of us share.

“We dwell now and as a species that has a 100-year lifespan, we act in our timeframe, in our home windows,” Sanzone mentioned. “We need to ensure that it is wholesome and joyful whereas we dwell right here.”

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