Estimates of seagrass loss prior to 2021 rise significantly, experts say

Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 8:50 PM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Earlier this year, in April, the Southwest Florida Water Management District released data indicating Tampa Bay lost 13% of its seagrass over two years ending in 2020. However, the district recently found that the percent was actually higher.

Last week, the district announced the loss of seagrass was actually 16% (6,353 acres) rather than the 13% (5,285 acres).

Further down the coast, in Sarasota, the bay had lost 18% -- and in Charlotte Harbor, the losses are a staggering 23%.

Justin Bloom, the found of Suncoast Waterkeeper, explained “that it kind of signals the really bad case scenario that we are afraid of.” He further explained that “our estuaries are facing the same progression of worsening conditions that we saw over in Indian River Lagoon, which has just crashed.”

Indian River Lagoon’s conditions and loss of seagrass lead to 300 manatee deaths. The death rates continued to soar and shatter the record. As of Sept. 3, the death total was at 937.

This has become a dire issue as seagrass provides not only a food source but also a habitat.

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