Save Our Seagrass Education Campaign
Underwater seagrass beds are a vital habitat for juvenile fish, shrimp and crabs in Alabama's coastal waters. (Photo Credit: Dauphin Island Sea Lab)
The Alabama Coastal Foundation is tasked by the Islands of Perdido Foundation to work with them and additional partners (see a full list below) to protect local seagrass beds in the Orange Beach area. These important seagrass beds are located near and around Robinson, Walker, Rabbit, Gilchrist, and Bird Islands. Click here for a map of the area that includes the seagrass beds. The most common types are Shoal and Widgeon grass; additional grasses include: Turtle, Manatee, and Tape. Seagrass beds are a vital habitat for the health of coastal communities globally and all marine life.
Seagrass provides us with oxygen, damage prevention from storms and sea level rise, water clarity and beneficial economic impacts. Beyond that, seagrass beds provide protection, nursery grounds, food, and breeding habitat for an array of incredibly diverse marine animals throughout their entire lives. Some examples of the marine life that cannot live without seagrass beds include juvenile sportfish such as red snapper & drum, crabs, turtles, manatees, tiny invertebrates, seahorses, and other marine mammals and birds.
The main threat to seagrass bed loss is the direct and indirect effects of human activity. By providing new boat launch signs at Cotton Bayou and Boggy Point boat launches, engaging local boat and jet-ski rental shops, and conducting lesson plans for 5th grade students, seagrass bed loss due to human disturbance should decline. Although seagrass takes years to recover from incidences such as prop scarring, the new stewardship habits formed will be long lasting and warrant hope for seagrass recovery. It is estimated that 50-80% of coastal Alabama’s seagrass has been lost and therefore it is critical to protect it and return it to the flourishing ecosystem it is meant to be.
The seagrass beds in focus are the Islands of the Perdido Pass area in Orange Beach, Alabama. In Perdido Bay & Orange Beach there are approximately 340 acres of seagrass or 260 football fields. Click here for a Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Report from the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program. Check out The Islands of Perdido Foundation’s website by clicking here to learn more about the Islands, view aerial photos, and find helpful information.
Partners of the campaign include: Alabama Coastal Foundation, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, City of Orange Beach, Dauphin Island Sea Lab, Gulf Shores Orange Beach Tourism, Islands of Perdido Foundation, Mobile Bay National Estuary Program, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, State of Alabama State Lands Division, and The Nature Conservancy.
Dwarf Seahorse Video by Ben Raines.
Click here for the full article about these amazing creatures and the crisis they face.
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