2022 county Seagrass Survey to be conducted on April 30 at Sarasota Sailing Squadron’s location on Ken Thompson Parkway

Free nature festival to follow survey

Image courtesy Sarasota County

The 2022 Sarasota County Seagrass Survey will be conducted on Saturday, April 30, at the Sarasota Sailing Squadron, which is located at 1717 Ken Thompson Parkway, county staff has announced.

The Seagrass Survey is a free, “citizen-science event that encourages community members to explore Sarasota Bay’s beautiful, life-giving seagrass habitats and emphasizes the importance of water resources in Sarasota County,” a news release explains.

Although the Seagrass Survey is open to the public, “snorkelers with boats are especially needed,” the release points out. Further, the release notes, students can receive community service hours for their participation in the activity.

To sign up for the survey, visit this link.

Additionally, a YouTube video shows interested persons how to conduct the seagrass survey: https://youtu.be/9KSI1tIRUdo

This year, for the first time, volunteers have been able to get a head start, thanks to the organizers allowing two weeks of flexible surveying prior to the festival, the release points out. Since April 16, any individual or team has been able to pick a zone to survey anywhere within Sarasota County, the release adds. “This flexible scheduling allows you to survey when and where you are most interested!” the release emphasizes.

“All information collected during the event will help scientists at Sarasota County understand the health of our prized seagrass and water quality of our Bays,” the release says.

Following the conclusion of the Seagrass Survey on April 30, a free nature festival will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., featuring educational exhibits with hands-on activities, live music, and other activities, the release adds.

This chart shows changes in seagrass coverage in Sarasota Bay, as shown in the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program’s 2021 ‘report card.’ Image courtesy of the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program

“A single acre of seagrass can support as many as 40,000 fish,” county staff points out. Seagrass beds are frequently referred to as the rainforests of the waterways, “because of the abundance of life they support. Seagrasses provide multiple environmental benefits,” which contribute to the health of bays and estuaries across Florida, the release continues. “Their extensive root systems help improve water clarity by stabilizing sediments and reducing erosion. This shoreline stabilization is especially important during storms and hurricanes that often threaten Florida’s coastline,” staff adds.

“Seagrasses also improve water quality by absorbing dissolved nutrients that can enter coastal systems as a result of stormwater runoff from land,” staff notes.

“Volunteers help county staff monitor seagrass habitats in every bay in Sarasota County twice a year,” staff adds. Through this program, a lot has been learned about the species distribution of seagrass and algae cover — plus other information “that can be used to help environmental managers better understand these complex environments,” the release points out.