Manatee Grass, also known as Syringodium filiforme, is a type of marine seagrass.
It’s found in shallow sandy or muddy locations in the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, the Bahamas, and Bermuda.
Manatee grass can grow up to 20 meters (66 feet) deep, or even deeper in very clear water.
How Does Climate Change Affect Manatee Grass?
Climate change is causing problems for manatee grass, which is a flowering plant that grows in shallow saltwater around the coast of Florida.
The changing environment is causing the decline of manatee grass worldwide. This is the first time in history that there is a chance of losing seagrass species all over the world.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed these plants as a threatened species.
Loss of Biodiversity
When seagrass species are lost, biodiversity is also lost. Manatee Grass is important for many reasons. It helps to stabilize sediments and prevent erosion of the land.
Its leaves filter nutrients from the water, which helps other ecosystems like coral reefs, mangroves, salt marshes, and oyster reefs.
Manatee Grass is also used as medicine, food, and for its ability to trap and bind sediments.
Effects of Human Development and Natural Disturbances
Human development can change the ecology of Manatee Grass, making it harder for the plant to survive.
The coast of Florida is starting to lose this important ecosystem due to human activities. Natural disturbances, like hurricanes, also play a role in habitat loss.
Increased levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) from climate change can also affect seagrasses, such as by increasing photosynthesis and growth, which can lower the pH of the water.
How Does Physical Oceanography Impact Manatee Grass?
Manatee Grass is affected by many factors in the ocean, such as salinity, temperature, sunlight, and climate.
In 2004, two hurricanes (Frances and Jeanne) caused a lot of damage to Manatee Grass beds in the Loxahatchee River estuary.
This damage was monitored for 12 to 15 months, and the grass beds showed little recovery. The main reason for this was the change in salinity caused by the hurricanes.
Loxahatchee River Estuary
The Loxahatchee River estuary covers 400 hectares and drains 700 square kilometers from the Palm Beach County watershed.
The watershed has a hydrology system that helps control flood effects for human populations.
Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne brought heavy rainfall and excessive freshwater runoff to the estuary, which negatively affected the salinity, light availability, and water quality.
This damage almost wiped out the entire Manatee Grass colony in the estuary.
Importance of Monitoring and Recovery Efforts
It’s crucial to monitor the effects of hurricanes and other disturbances on Manatee Grass beds.
These beds are essential for the survival of endangered animals like the Manatee and serve as nurseries for many other species.
Further studies and monitoring should be done to help the growth and well-being of Manatee Grass and other important ecosystems in areas like the Loxahatchee River Estuary.
You can check out what this plant looks like over here.