An edition of: WaterAtlas.orgPresented By: USF Water Institute

Water-Related News

Seagrass meadows in Tampa Bay see ‘significant’ decline over last four years

TAMPA – Over the last four years, the seagrass meadows that blanket Tampa Bay have been shrinking. Since 2018, at least 6,300 acres of the plants have been lost with the majority of the decline happening in Old Tampa Bay.

Thriving seagrass is critical to the foundation of a healthy bay and good water quality. In 2018, Tampa Bay had about 41,000 acres of seagrasses.

"Unfortunately, over the past four years or so, we've seen significant declines in seagrass meadows, particularly in one part of the bay; we call it Old Tampa Bay," explained Maya Burke, the assistant director of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program.

Old Tampa Bay is 84-square-miles of open water that you see when driving on the Courtney Campbell Causeway, Howard Frankland Bridge and Gandy Bridge. In that area, more than 4,000 acres have been lost.

"Seagrasses can be vulnerable to a variety of different stressors," Burke said. "And when those stressors interact, it can make it harder for us to maintain the amount of seagrass that we'd like to see in our bay."