Biscayne National Park, near Miami, Florida, started an unconventional seagrass restoration project in November. Seagrass beds are vitally-important habitat to Miami's Biscayne Bay, as they provide nurseries and homes for numerous species of gamefish and invertebrates.
Prop scars and grounded boats kill seagrass, especially in populated areas like Miami with high amounts of boater traffic. As an example, in 2007, an estimated 217 reported boat groundings occurred in the Keys National Sanctuary, south of Miami, with approximately 80 percent occurring on seagrass beds.
So how can Miami's seagrass regrow?
The November Biscayne project centers around temporary installation of bird stakes, PVC perches that allow birds such as pelicans and cormorants to sit and "provide natural fertilizer" to injured seagrass beds. To be blunt, their poop enhances seagrass growth with its nutrient-rich content. Restoration techniques such as replanting seagrass and bird stakes have proven to speed recovery time of injured seagrass.
The bird stakes are constructed of 3/4-inch PVC poles and 4 inch x 4 inch x 2 inch wood blocks attached to poles. They are placed throughout the injury areas at 6.6 feet intervals. Restricted Area signs are posted at the restored areas for approximately 12 to 18 months to allow the seagrass to grow. The aluminum signs are 46-cm wide x 36-cm tall, with a white reflective background.
By physically placing signs and stakes, project managers hope that the boaters will see the injured areas of seagrass and not run over them. Plus, when the stakes are finally removed, boaters will know to continue not to run in those shallow grassy areas.
Be mindful of these locations where the stakes are being placed:
2 Bird Stakes, 1 Sign
35 Bird Stakes, 2 Signs
80 Bird stakes, 5 Signs
Below, this video of Seagrass Restoration in the Keys is similar to the techniques being used in Miami's Biscayne Bay: