Seagrass beds are important to estuarine productivity in many ways. The grass beds provide protective nursery area for juvenile fish, shrimp, and crabs, and provide a substrate for growth of algal ephiphytes which serve as food for fish and crustaceans. Manatees feed directly on seagrasses. Seagrass roots also bind soils and reduce erosion and turbidity during strong tidal currents or storms, and absorb storm energy, thereby protecting coastal habitats, property and human habitation.
Water Management Districts, in cooperation with the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), maintain data for seagrass beds and related coastal ecological features. A method of photo-interpretation using Avineon's Image Station Stereo Display is used to identify seagrass beds from 1:24,000 and 1:10,000 scale natural color aerial photography. The final results are processed in a geographic information system (GIS) that allows for the location of seagrass beds to be displayed in digital maps, such as those found in the Water Atlas Mapping Application.
Seagrass locations were analyzed using a geographic information system (GIS) in order to calculate the total acreage of patchy or continuous seagrass beds within the coastal waterbodies.
These data were not collected under the supervision of a licensed Professional Surveyor and Mapper.