Archive for November 11th, 2008

November 11, 2008

Where Is All My Seagrass?

Kelly Park doesn't even look this good!

I had a nightmare the eve of my twenty-six birthday where I went to the bathroom to wash my face and suddenly confronted a reflection full of lines, spots, white hair, and crazy Grandma-style chartreuse lipstick!  I felt similarly old today while sliding through seagrass beds in Kelly Park on Merritt Island, FL. 

Why?  Well, after consulting sketches I’d drawn on the seagrass beds at Kelly Park back in 2006, I noticed a shocking lack of seagrass bed habitat in the area today.  Enough to inspire a “back in my day..” and “when I was young..” moment in my mind. 

While seagrass beds go through seasonal cycles and can fluctuate a bit from year to year I remember, in 2006, walking through large lush fields of shoal grass (Halodule wrightii) and widgeon grass (Ruppia maritima).  Today, there is practically no coverage.  I went probing around in the sediment trying to locate rhizomes that had lost leaves or gone dormant in the previous weeks of 68-71F water temperatures, but couldn’t find any rhizomes. 

I have relative landscape maps on the scale and distribution of these beds from 2006 and 2007, so I’m fairly certain I didn’t dream them up.  I only wish I’d been conducting an all out scientific survey down to the square centimeter in this area.  Truly the decline of the beds is nothing short of concerning. 

Echoing the loss of seagrass the diversity in the area, as surveyed by seine net, has also gone south.  In previous years – even in mid-November – we routinely pulled up a wide array of fish and invertebrates from this site that typify seagrass habitat: pipefish, two species of seahorse, blue crabs, sheepshead minnows, sailfin mollies, anchovy, mojarra, juvenile mullet, pinfish, sea robins, juvenile snapper, and even juvenile lookdowns.  Today the catch was dominated by comb jellies, bay anchovy, mangrove killifish, and a few very tiny bay pipefish. 

I hope I’m overreacting and that my memories are playing tricks on me but I’m very aware that such a seemingly incredible shift in so few years is not exactly a sign of high health for the lagoon. function fbs_click() {u=location.href;t=document.title;window.open(‘http://www.facebook.com/sharer.php?u=’+encodeURIComponent(u)+’&t=’+encodeURIComponent(t),’sharer’,’toolbar=0,status=0,width=626,height=436′);return false;} html .fb_share_button { display: -moz-inline-block; display:inline-block; padding:1px 20px 0 5px; height:15px; border:1px solid #d8dfea; background:url(http://static.ak.fbcdn.net/images/share/facebook_share_icon.gif?2:26981) no-repeat top right; } html .fb_share_button:hover { color:#fff; border-color:#295582; background:#3b5998 url(http://static.ak.fbcdn.net/images/share/facebook_share_icon.gif?2:26981) no-repeat top right; text-decoration:none; }

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November 11, 2008

Oceana's Awesome Acid Primer

(c) Oceana.org

Have you heard of ocean acidification and found yourself bewildered by what exactly it is and what it means for ocean wildlife and ocean conservation?  Are you curious to know what you could do about increasing carbon dioxide in the oceans?  Oceana – always brilliant – just posted an awesome report on the situation to their website.  Read it, digest, and discuss with your representatives.