Earth Tech Environmental recently completed a seagrass monitoring survey for the future dredging project that will encompass the channel from Wiggins Pass down to Water Turkey Bay. This monitoring project was implemented to help the dredging company prepare for what they need to do help avoid impacts to important resources, such as seagrass, throughout the dredge project.
ETE conducted two separate surveys to assess the seagrass in the area. After an initial droning session providing aerial imagery to assist, the first survey conducted was a presence/absence survey, which determined the general areas where seagrass was present. The second survey conducted was a quantitative assessment, which determined the density and abundance of seagrass in the same area.
Our ecologists used the same method to visually determine the amount of seagrass to the Clam Bay monitoring project conducted earlier this year, the Braun Blanquet method, in conjunction with a line intercept method along a set transect. With 15 transects and 161 quadrat locations, there was a lot of seagrass to find, and a lot of work to do!
The ecologists had several visitors throughout the workday, including manatees and dolphins checking out their progress. Some fish species they observed near the quad locations were red drum, common snook, mangrove snapper, and mullet. Visibility wasn’t the greatest, nor the combination of strong currents and winds topside.
These seagrass monitoring surveys are crucial to keep seagrass ecosystems thriving under ecosystem-altering changes, such as dredging. These surveys will supply information to help the dredgers create a plan to make the dredge efficient and as environmentally safe as possible.