Save Our Seagrass Education Campaign
We are working with a variety of partners (full list below) to preserve and protect the seagrass beds in the Perdido Pass area. These important seagrass beds are located near and around Robinson, Walker, Rabbit, Gilchrist, and Bird Islands. Click here for a map of the area that includes the seagrass beds. The most common types are Shoal and Widgeon grass; additional grasses include: Turtle, Manatee, and Tape. It is estimated that 50-80% of coastal Alabama’s seagrass has been lost and therefore it is critical to protect it and return it to the flourishing ecosystem it is meant to be.
There are 3 strategy areas for this campaign:
1) Create signage at Boggy Point & Cotton Bayou Boat Launches educating boaters and jet skiers about these critical habitats and where the No Motor Zone areas are.
2) Engage local rental shops to ensure renters are aware of the purpose of protecting seagrass and to avoid these sensitive habitats while out recreating.
3) Educate local 5th grade students about the value of seagrass and the importance of protecting it for future generations.
Seagrass beds are highly productive habitats, in terms of the grass themselves as well as the animals they support. They are the nurseries of sea, where juvenile fish and shellfish find refuge to thrive and grow to adulthood. Many commercially and recreationally important species like red drum, speckled trout, and blue crabs all call the seagrass beds their nursery home. They are also an important food source for many animals including our favorite megaherbivores such as manatees that travel through this area every year and for green turtles that are increasing in abundance in our area. Seagrass beds protect shoreline and reduce coastal erosion by trapping and stabilizing the sediment, which also helps to keep the water clear (and keeps our visitors coming).
The main threat to seagrass bed loss is the direct and indirect effects of human activity. Although seagrass takes years to recover from incidences such as prop scarring, the new stewardship habits formed through this campaign will be long lasting and warrant hope for seagrass recovery. In Perdido Bay & Orange Beach there are approximately 340 acres of seagrass or 260 football fields. Click here for a Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Report from the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program.
Partners of the campaign include: Alabama Coastal Foundation, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, City of Orange Beach, Dauphin Island Sea Lab, Gulf Shores Orange Beach Tourism, Islands of Perdido Foundation, Mobile Bay National Estuary Program, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, State of Alabama State Lands Division, and The Nature Conservancy.
Friday, April 7, 2017 was officially designated as Orange Beach Seagrass Day by the City of Orange Beach and Mayor Tony Kennon. Click here to read an article about this day by the Mullet Wrapper and read the full proclamation below.
Orange Beach Seagrass Day Proclamation
WHEREAS, the seagrass beds of Orange Beach, Alabama support a healthy local ecosystem and economy;
WHEREAS, seagrass habitat is ranked number one in nursery value because they provide food and protection for juvenile fish and shellfish;
WHEREAS, seagrass beds are a sanctuary throughout the life cycle of marine animals providing vital feeding and breeding grounds;
WHEREAS, seagrass health is directly proportional to the health and status of many important commercial and recreational seafood species;
WHEREAS, seagrass beds reduce the destructive impacts of storm surge and sea level rise;
WHERAS, manatee, turtles, sea horses and many types of waterfowl feed on seagrass;
WHEREAS, local businesses and the economy depend on the health of the seagrass beds to be profitable; and
WHEREAS, it is in everyone's interest to keep seagrass beds healthy;
NOW, THEREFORE, it is proclaimed by the Orange Beach City Council and Mayor that April 7, 2017, is: Orange Beach Seagrass Day.
Photo Credit: Mobile Bay National Estuary Program
Click the picture above to save it and print a handout about Alabama's seagrass.
Councilman Jeff Silvers and Islands of Perdido Foundation Board Member Tracy Holiday proudly display the proclamation.