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High seagrass levels contributing to Sarasota Bay's clean waters

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- A new study from the Southwest Florida Management District shows there's been a dramatic increase in the amount of seagrass in the bay. Seagrass levels are important to the bay's overall health, along with the wildlife, marine life and residents who depend on it.

"A clean bay just makes you feel good," said Charles Newman.

Newman is feeling good after a great fishing adventure on Sarasota Bay. Not only did he and his group catch plenty of fish, but they also got a close look at just how clean the bay is.

"People are becoming more aware of polluting and that sort of thing and those things that are detrimental to the health," said Newman.

Officials with the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program say the 50 miles of Sarasota Bay have seen an increase of seagrass over the years from 8,500 acres to 13,288 acres today. That's a 36 percent increase.

"Seagrass is extremely important to the ecology because it's the basis of the food chain," said Mark Alderson, Executive Director of the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program. "The small fish are in the seagrasses, they grow up, they go offshore, then they end up on our dinner table."

Alderson says that a lot of the success at Sarasota Bay can be attributed to folks doing a much better job treating our wastewater.

"Wastewater has nitrogen in it and that nitrogen harms the grasses because it reduces the clarity," he said.

A seagrass study at Sarasota Bay is done every two years. The last one was done back in 2014. The next study will be done later this year.