NewsCitrus, Hernando County


Efforts underway to restore seagrass habitat for Florida manatees

Waxler 530 pkg Manatee feeding.jpg
Posted at 5:43 PM, Dec 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-08 22:26:31-05

CITRUS COUNTY — Manatees are still an unusual sight for many people who aren’t from Florida.

“I don’t think they exist in Europe for sure," said one woman from Portugal.

“I’ve never seen a manatee until now, so it’s awesome," said another woman from Vermont.

Visitors to Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park got to see the massive marine mammals up close during a feeding frenzy Wednesday.

“Manatees, a highly endangered species. It’s great to see them trying to revive them and bring back the population and I hope it works for them," said Scott O'Dell from Ocala

Sea & Shoreline Aquatic Restoration came to Citrus County with baskets full of a seagrass snack.

But what will really help the manatees they their work at regrowing seagrass beds around the state.

“That’s the long-term goal is to restore this habitat. Create a sustainable food source for these manatees and for all the other fish and vertebrates that depend on them," said Sea & Shoreline lead biologist Ryan Brushwood.

Sea & Shoreline says Crystal River is one of their most successful restoration projects.

They’ve planted 50 acres of seagrass that’s spread to almost 200 acres around King’s Bay.

It’s the lack of seagrass, especially on Florida’s east coast that’s led to more than a thousand manatee deaths this year.

“Efforts to restore that seagrass will directly combat those algae blooms that we’re seeing and hopefully really help flip the systems and get them back to where they should be," said Brushwood.

This seagrass supply while tasty, won’t last long. Manatees can each eat about a hundred pounds of it every day.