The importance of Gulf Coast seagrasses is recognized statewide and the creation of the Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserve in 1985 placed over 984,000 acres of habitat under state management. Despite protection and management of seagrass resources in this and other parts of Florida, seagrasses in this region face multiple threats. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s State Wildlife Action Plan names seagrasses as one of the most threatened marine habitats in Florida, with the highest ranked stressors being altered water quality, habitat destruction and sedimentation.
Physical damage to seagrasses via propeller/anchor scarring and blow-holes from vessels running aground is an ongoing problem in Florida and natural recovery from physical damage can exceed ten years. Over time, erosion and scouring in scarred areas can result in reduced resilience of the seagrasses to other stressors and lead to loss of seagrasses. Propeller scarring is a wholly preventable stressor to seagrasses and reducing and reversing this impact can lead to increased seagrass resilience to other stressors, secure ecosystem services, and help improve the ecological sustainability of the tourism activities that are vital to the coastal counties in this region.