are unique because they are the only flowering plant that spends its
entire life cycle in seawater and is one of the most important
inhabitants of the Indian River Lagoon. These communities are highly
productive, full of fauna, and an ecologically and economically
valuable habitat by acting as nurseries, food, and homes for many
aquatic species found in the lagoon such as juvenile fish, shrimp,
manatees, and sea turtles. Seagrasses also add dissolved oxygen to the
water thus allowing aquatic animals to breathe. Due to these
activities, seagrasses are the basis for a $1 billion a year
recreational and commercial fishing industry in the Indian River
addition to these important features, seagrasses improve the water
quality by filtering some pollutants from the water and stabilizing
the loose sediment with their roots and rhizomes.
seagrass populations in the Indian River Lagoon have been declining.
From Stuart to
major reason for this decline is the reduction of the water quality of
the lagoon. Storm water runoff carries nonpoint source pollution from
commercial, residential, and agricultural areas into the lagoon. The
runoff contains chemicals, fertilizers, silt, and debris. These
pollutants negatively impact the seagrass meadows by increasing water
turbidity, algal blooms, and toxicity.