An edition of: WaterAtlas.orgPresented By: Sarasota County, USF Water Institute

Water-Related News

‘Eyes on Seagrass’ volunteers collect valuable data in Sarasota Bay

SBEP uses multiple measurements, or indicators, of bay health to assess the overall ecological condition of our estuaries. Some indicators, like seagrass coverage and total nitrogen concentration, have a long period of record that we can use to assess bay health over time. Other indicators, however, have patchier datasets. In recent years, interest in seaweeds, or macroalgae, as a barometer of bay health has grown. Yet seaweeds have not been consistently monitored throughout SBEP's study area.

To fill this data gap, SBEP turned to community science. We recently adopted the Eyes on Seagrass volunteer monitoring program that was originally developed by Florida Sea Grant in Charlotte Harbor. The program is similar to the annual Sarasota County Seagrass Survey with an additional focus on seaweeds and a broader geographic scope.

In June, SBEP intern Race Stryker trained volunteers to collect macroalgae and seagrass data. Volunteers successfully sampled 38 sites in Sarasota Bay and surrounding embayments. SBEP will use the data volunteers collected to build a new indicator of bay health for the Sarasota Bay report card. Race wrapped up his internship last week. Now he's off to graduate school in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Bon voyage, Race!

Interested in volunteering for the next round of Eyes on Seagrass in spring 2022? Contact Darcy Young at