Seagrasses provide:
  • Productivity and Shelter
  • Sediment Stabilization
  • Water Clarity
  • Productivity and Shelter

Seagrasses are a primarily food source for many organisms including the manatee (Trichechus manatus) and
green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) both of which are endangered marine herbivores. Many marine species also
utilize seagrass habitats as feeding grounds and nursery areas. Fishes including the tarpon (Megalops
atlanticus), snook (Centropomus undecimalis), ladyfish (Elops saurus), crevalle jack (Caranx hippos), and
goliath grouper (Epinephelus itajara) forage in seagrass habitats. Gray snapper (Lutjanus griseus),
sheepshead (Archosargus probatocephalus), spotted seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus) and red drum
(Sciaenops ocellota) spend their juvenile stage in seagrass habitat, eventually moving on to mangroves as they
mature. Other commercially important species including spiny lobsters (Panulirus guttatus), pink shrimp
(Penaeus duorarum) and stone crabs (Menippe mercenaria) also use seagrasses as nurseries.

Sediment Stabilization

Seagrasses stabilize bottom sediments with their dense roots and rhizomes that form a secure mat. This
sediment stabilization and erosion prevention is especially important during storms and hurricanes that often
threaten Florida’s coastline.

Water Clarity

Seagrasses are efficient at removing dissolved nutrients from waters that often enter coastal waters as a result
of runoff from the land. Seagrasses also trap fine sediments and particles from both land and water. The settle
out of the water column, becoming trapped among the blades and roots of the seagrasses. The removal of
sediments and nutrients from the water results in high water clarity and nutrient-poor waters required for the
survival of coral reefs.

Importance of Seagrasses
In addition to commercially important species, mangroves also support a number of threatened and
endangered species.

Threatened species include:
·        American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis)
·        Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas)
·        Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta)

Endangered species include:
·        American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus)
·        Hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)
·        Atlantic ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii)
·        Eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais)
·        Atlantic saltmarsh snake (Nerodia clarkii taeniata)
·        Southern bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus leucocephalus)
·        Peregrine falcon (Falco columbarius)
·        Brown pelican (Pelicanus occidentalis)
·        Barbados yellow warbler ( Dendroica petechia petechia)
·        Key deer (Odocoileus virginianus clavium)
·        West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus)

These species utilize mangrove systems during at least some portion of their life histories, while others reside
their entire life spans, feeding and nesting within the mangroves.
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary