St. Andrew Bay Watch Seagrass Monitoring & Restoration Program - St. Andrew Bay, Bay County, FL
Program Coordinator Dr. Linda M. Fitzhugh firstname.lastname@example.org or 769-1551 X2863
Dr. Fitzhugh, who has taught at Gulf Coast State College for the past 18 years, earned her doctorate degree in Oceanography from FSU. Her research focuses on water quality and seagrass productivity. Since 1995, Dr. Fitzhugh has been volunteering for RMA. She noticed that water quality in different areas of the St. Andrew Bay system were markedly different. This prompted her, in the year 2000, to start the community based seagrass monitoring program for RMA. Her goal was to better understand the impact of water quality on the biological resources of the bay.
How higher turbidities and nutrient concentrations in West Bay have affected seagrass productivity and how deteriorating seagrass beds affect sea life such as the once abundant scallops in our bays
Seagrass bed coverge in the bay is monitored anually at fixed transects to determine if they are expanding or contracting. This gives RMA an idea of how seagrass cover is changing basin-wide. Because aerial mapping is infrequent and because collecting data at set transects only provides data at those specific sites, RMA is looking at other ways to monitor seagrass cover across the entire bay.
Seagrass restoration in West Bay (details below)
Seagrass Restoration in West Bay The seagrass program received a small grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Coastal Program to conduct a pilot seagrass restorationproject in West Bay. Funds from the grant are being used to calibrate a water quality model initially created for Chesapeake Bay so that the model can be used for the St. Andrew Bay system. Seagrasses used in the project are from the Department of Environmental Protection’s Seagrass Restoration Program (DEP). The seagrass mats, about the size of placemats, are created using sprigs of Ruppia maritima. The DEP clones the plants to produce thousands of sprigs and places these on top of coconut fiber mats. The sprigs eventually grow through the mats so when the mats are placed on top of the sediment and secured using landscape fabric staples, the roots grow into the sediment.
Seagrasses will be planted in 48 plots in West Bay, half of which will be surrounded by several bags of oyster shell to reduce sediment movement. Each of the 48 plots will contain six seagrass mats so each plot will cover approximately 1 square meter. Although the patches of new seagrass will cover less than a third of an acre of bay bottom, the purpose of the project is to see if seagrass mats will survive in this area of West Bay that has notsupported seagrass growth since the 1960s. Another purpose of the project is to determine if the oyster shell improves the survival rate of the seagrasses.
Restoration began in Spring of 2012.
For more information about our Seagrass Progam, contact Linda Fitzhugh at email@example.com or 769-1551 X2863
Seagrass Monitoring in Bay County, FL
Publications and Presentations (in adobe acrobat format)