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EPA Awards Grant to Marine Lab

January 24, 2024
Seagrass Macroalgae

Thanks to a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the SCCF Marine Laboratory is initiating a study on the proliferation of macroalgae in Matlacha Pass and San Carlos Bay and its impact on seagrass.

“The most recent aerial photography images from 2021 show significant losses of seagrass in San Carlos Bay and Matlacha Pass since 2014,” said Marine Lab Director Eric Milbrandt, Ph.D. “With this EPA grant, we’ll see if those losses are related to macroalgae.”

Seagrasses play a critical role as a nursery for many species of fish and invertebrates. They also stabilize sediments and prevent some wind-driven turbidity. By producing oxygen, seagrasses also play a critical role in preventing hypoxia, which can be fatal to marine life.

A team of scientists from the lab will conduct extensive field sampling and collection of macroalgae along with seagrass surveys. Water quality surveys and stable isotope analysis will be used to identify hot spots and sources of nitrogen used by macroalgae.

To develop a seagrass restoration strategy, test plots with algae removed will be maintained to see whether it affects seagrass density and percent occurrence.

The 3-year grant from the EPA South Florida Program includes a total award of $578K.


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