Have you ever seen a seagrass flower?
With July behind us, local Eyes on Seagrass volunteers have completed their seagrass surveys in upper Charlotte Harbor. This was the first year of our new citizen science survey, which involved trained volunteers collecting seagrass and seaweed information at 30 different sites during a two-week period in April and again in July.
This survey is important because increasing abundances of seaweed (scientists call it macroalgae) is growing concern for many estuary communities, including Charlotte Harbor. We chose April and July to survey because in Florida estuaries, macroalgae often display seasonal abundance patterns, peaking in spring and declining in the summer.
Of course, I say often, not always — and in our first survey, this seasonal pattern did not hold up. Where we had macroalgae in April, we also had it in July. Maybe not as thick, but we saw it over a wider area.
What this means, we don’t know yet. This was our first survey, so we have nothing to compare our results to. But we will be back out next year in April and July to do it all over again. And, as we finished up our annual surveys, the Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserve began their fall seagrass surveys using similar but expanded methods. Over time, we hope to better understand macroalgal bloom dynamics in shallow seagrass areas.