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Health and Environmental Effects Research

GED Participates in Seagrass Awareness Festival

NHEERL’s Gulf Ecology Division (GED) will participate in the 12th Annual Seagrass Festival on Saturday, March 31, 2012, in Gulf Breeze, FL. GED’s Outreach Committee designed a poster describing seagrass research at GED that will be displayed, along with one of the division’s small boats, various diving gear, and water-sampling equipment. GED’s research includes studying seagrass coverage to predict future distribution and changes, evaluating factors that make seagrasses an important habitat for juvenile fishes and invertebrates, exploring how chemicals and nutrient pollution affect seagrass health, and developing computer models that predict how seagrasses react to changing environmental conditions.

March is Seagrass Awareness Month in Florida. Healthy seagrass beds reduce wave action during storms; improve water clarity by trapping sediments; stabilize the bottom with roots and rhizomes; provide food for many marine animals and birds; are vital nursery habitats for sport fish, baitfish, crustaceans, and shellfish; and enhance opportunities for sportfishing, snorkeling, and ecotourism. As part of Seagrass Awareness Month, the Santa Rosa Sea Grant Extension sponsors the annual Seagrass Awareness Festival. The festival is a family event that includes live marine life in touch tanks, games and crafts for children, seining, fishing, food, ways to explore a seagrass bed, boating safety, kayaking, and more. The festival provides a fun way for attendees to learn how seagrass is a valuable part of the marine environment and how seagrass plays a vital role in the economy of northwest Florida.

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