Local

Local conservation groups working to restore seagrass in the Indian River Lagoon

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — Eyewitness News recently joined members of the Brevard Zoo’s Restore Our Shores conservation team as they gathered up floating fragments of seagrass for a special purpose.

Olivia Escandell, the Conservation Manager for ROS told Channel 9, “We’re collecting fragments of Shoal grass. It’s the most common species of seagrass that we have in this portion of the Indian River Lagoon, in hopes of cultivating it in our newest seagrass nursery.”

The fragments, which were removed by permit, were then transported to the Melbourne Beach nursery built in partnership with the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute.

WATCH CHANNEL 9 EYEWITNESS NEWS

The zoo will have a second seagrass nursery in Rockledge, once it’s fully functional.

The Brevard Zoo is one of five organizations receiving federal funding through the Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program to increase seagrass nursery capacity, with the goal of accelerating seagrass recovery over the next 5 years.

Read: Students remember Lake Minneola High School senior who was fatally struck by school bus on campus

Dr. Duane De Freese, the Executive Director for the Indian River Lagoon NEP, said " We realized that we’re never going to plant the tens of thousands of acres we lost, but we could accelerate that recovery.”

De Freese also told Channel 9, that back in 2011, we began to have harmful algal blooms that over a nine-year period, basically killed about 90% of the biomass in this system.

Read: ‘Overjoyed’: Police say Charlotte Sena found ‘in good health’; suspect arrested

Fish and manatees rely on having healthy seagrasses. Since then, De Freese says there’s been some natural recovery, but it’s not even.  He said it’s a water quality issue and that if we don’t get the water quality right, seagrasses won’t grow, De Freese added.

Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Legislature are putting millions of dollars toward addressing that issue.

Read: Rep. Matt Gaetz files ‘motion to vacate’ against Speaker Kevin McCarthy

Click here to download our free news, weather and smart TV apps. And click here to stream Channel 9 Eyewitness News live.