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Friday, 29 November 2013 15:21

Loss of $eagrass Indian River Lagoon

Written by  Marty Baum, Indian Riverkeeper


Indian River Lagoon, cont'd.

Loss of seagrass meadows
By Marty Baum
Indian Riverkeeper


The seagrass meadows we have in the Indian River lagoon... 156 miles from Jupiter to Ponce inlets, are the lifeblood of our diversity. The IRL is, maybe was, the most diverse estuarine ecosystem in all of North America. This is due largely from the richness of our 7 different kinds of seagrasses. A tropical seagrass meadow is the third most diverse ecosystem on planet Earth, only tropical rainforests, and tropical coral reefs are richer.
Let me give you an example of the difference that it makes. If you examine one square inch of sandy or mucky bottom, you will find about five thousand organisms. Add a couple blades of seagrass to that inch, and it now contains several HUNDRED thousand organisms. Each square meter contributes about five pounds of detritus, organic litter (read “energy”) back into the meadow, that is twice the amount of a mangrove forest/swamp, another nursery that needs addressing. Dr. Gilmore tells me that 10,000 fish per acre is a reasonable estimate for healthy seagrass meadows here. That is in addition to the 400 specie of marine organisms that use meadows as a primary habitat. The 2008 study by Hayson/Sawyer determined that one acre of seagrass is worth 5-10 thousand dollars an acre to local economies. Some studies go as high as 20,000 per acre, but even lowball is significant. Lowball is a 150-300 million dollar impact on our local economies.
The Indian River gives to us all and this death and destruction being imposed on OUR Indian River lagoon is getting worse. The estimated annual economic value of the Indian River lagoon is $3,725,900,000. (That’s billions with a “b”) That is a staggering economic impact that affects both the communities and economies from New Smyrna all the way down to Jupiter.  Everyone along Indian River lagoon is directly dependant upon the health and vigor of the ecosystem. We must demand clean water. Every single one of us via our, property values, wages, tax bases, services, recreation or our direct livelihoods, benefits from our association with the lagoon. Essentially, everything about our way of life here is enhanced and given greater value due to the influence of the Indian River lagoon. Every salesman, clerk, realtor, car or boat dealership, bank, grocery store, mom and pop enterprise, auto repair and sandwich shop is touched by, and lives better, because of that money. Every one should be demanding clean water. Much of our economy is driven by new home construction. Historically, we have been the last to suffer, and first to recover in times of recession, and it’s because of the Indian River lagoon.
Seagrass meadows are imperative to the diversity of the IRL, and clean water is what is needed for them to flourish. The “self” re-growth of seagrasses is slow. The other alternative is to replant by hand. This is an expensive ordeal, and comes with its own difficulties. Dr. Gilmore tells me that “farm raised” seagrasses do not readily, or successfully transplant. Currently, the most effective way is to plug healthy grass, and relocate it. Think that through.



Last modified on Thursday, 23 January 2014 19:14
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