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Clean Up & Restoration
Beneath the surface Lyngbya and organic waste choke the seagrass and underwater landscapes. Before the ecosystem can be restored, decades of decay and muck must be removed. Biologists remove the grime and clean down to the sand, removing nitrogen and phosphorous, which opens spring vents and creates a healthy environment for planting seagrass.
Through donations and government support, we are able to move forward with rehabilitation and removal of the muck. Several species of eelgrass are carefully planted with protective cages until they are rooted and flourish. Seagrass cleans the water, absorbs more carbon from the atmosphere than the rainforest, and is the primary food source for manatees and other sea life.
Manatees eat 10 - 15% of their body weight every day. That's 100 - 150 pounds of seagrass and other vegetation!
Manatees can hold their breath for up to 20 minutes while traveling the waterways. That's a whole Netflix episode!
Planting is not the finish line - it is but a starting point. Biologists then return regularly to clean the cages and ensure the grass is growing. The canals are monitored and maintenance is performed on all the enclosed and exposed seagrass (scientifically known as "submerged aquatic vegetation, or SAV."
Once the sandy bottom is cleared, varieties of seagrass including "Rockstar" and "Salty Dog" are planted with protective cages; this new seagrass is the primary food source for manatees and other sea life as well as a habitat for many fish, crabs and invertebrates.