As a result of the work being done by Save Crystal River and Sea & Shoreline, lush, native, healthy eelgrass has replaced the invasive blue green algae, Lyngbya, that once clogged and polluted the beautiful ecosystem.
This abundant grass cleans the water, provides habitat for many species, improves fish breeding grounds, and feeds the manatees that visit and live in Crystal River and Kings Bay.
But why is there so much floating grass on top of the water?
Below are answers to some frequently asked questions.
The summer boating season is a wonderful time for families and visitors to enjoy time on the water together; however, most of the floating eelgrass is due to boat propellers and anchors dragging through the grass. Boat propellers chop it into large quantities all over the river, as the grass is up to four (4) feet tall with up to 15 leaves per plant. Dragging anchors through the seagrass tears it out by the roots, damaging the grass beds and adding to the volume of floating grass in the river.
In the fall, as days get shorter and sunlight is less plentiful, you will see additional floating grass appear. The grass directs its energy into growing rootlike structures called rhizomes increasing the spread of new grass plants and will release most of their leaves, much like an oak or maple tree.
Fortunately, we have recently brought in a new, custom-designed seagrass collecting machine to gather the floating grass and remove it from the surface.
The removal of the floating seagrass has a few benefits:
It reduces the shading of the seagrass growing on the bottom, so it can continue to thrive, grow, and spread in the ecosystem.
It removes the collection of floating grass from residential areas (in areas where we are permitted). Please see maps below that show the permitted areas 1-7).
When gathered, Save Crystal River and Sea & Shoreline are making it available to feed manatees in captivity. Unlike lettuce, this is more nutritious and teaches them to forage for the same kind of food they will find in their natural environment.
Current funding and DEP permits allow planting and collection to take place only in designated areas, Phases 1-4 of the original, 92-acre restoration project. We have also received funding to begin clearing an additional 85 acres, for Phases 5-7.
Daily, via aerial drone photos, and using wind, tide, and current data, a team of biologists and aquatic experts at Sea & Shoreline monitor the movement and location of floating grass within the permitted boundariesprioritizing and addressing the areas of greatest floating grass concentration. The BEST grass collectors of all – the Manatees – do their part by eating as much of the floating grass as they can hold.
Restoring, Protecting, and Saving Crystal River takes ALL OF US.
Some things every one of us can do to help with the excess floating seagrass clippings are:
Trim props on all boats – especially at low tide.
Don’t drag anchors through the seagrass.
Get a power pole, spud anchor or mushroom anchor to prevent seagrass destruction and excess floating grass in the water.
Be good stewards of the waterways, practice responsible anchoring, and protect the restoration efforts that everyone has worked so hard for and supported for the past 10 years.
As always, your donations and volunteer efforts to Save Crystal River always help to keep moving this restoration effort forward.
We all understand the desire to focus on the areas surrounding homes, and we want to see that happen for all of our community, our citizens, and visitors.
Please trust the process and expert team working on your behalf as they continue to put forth all possible efforts to keep Crystal River, clean, safe, and beautiful for current and future generations!
For more information on current efforts, click here to view The Crystal River City Council meeting from September 12.
Kings Bay Restoration Project
PERMITTED PROJECT AREAS
Red: Restoration Areas Completed
Yellow: Restoration Areas in Progress
Blue: Restoration Areas to be completed by July, 2023
PERMITTED PROJECT AREAS
Currently seeking permitting in areas in Cedar Cove, Magnolia Cove, Crystal Shores, Indian Waters, and more to continue the restoration work in Kings Bay and Crystal River.
Save Crystal River is a 501c3 not for profit organization dedicated to preserving Florida’s waters for generations to come.