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A few facts about sea grasses

By Staff | Oct 27, 2010

To the editor,

Now that the dock issue has been decided because of so-called expert and conservation-minded people who unfortunately hardly knew the true facts about sea grass and docks, let me inform you of a few facts I have learned about sea grass and docks as a fishing guide of almost 50 years on Sanibel and Captiva waters.

If anyone would take the time to look at a map along the area between the Lighthouse and Woodring’s Point, you will notice the shoreline is miniscule compared to the area of San Carlos Bay and Pine Island Sound. The largest grass flats begin east and north of Woodring’s Point and continue well past Cayo Costa.

There are thousands of acres of grass flats. But some areas of these grass flats do change from time to time. Areas that were once grass flats sometimes turn sandy, and then just the opposite happens. As this occurs over the years, this is why fishing guides make better conclusions about the water environment than most people, simply because they are the people who are out on the water almost every day. They are not people behind desks with theories, or people who want to be known as conservationists, but in most instances without the knowledge to go along with it.

Because I was a fishing guide for almost 50 years, I consider myself an expert on the health and welfare of the waters surrounding Sanibel and Captiva. So, when this dock issue came to light, the first thing I thought of was: Docks that were built would be a good environmental addition to San Carlos Bay. Why do I think this way? Because any structure in the bay creates habitat!

To those who think docks will prevent sea grass from growing under them could be right — if the docks were 50 feet wide and extended about a mile into the sound. But docks are narrow and fairly short, and sunlight moves from side to side… so what’s the problem?

The people against any more docks act as if the docks are built side by side, when in fact they are separated on the average of 80 to 100 feet, depending on lot size. So there is plenty of space between them for any sea grass to grow, if in fact conditions are favorable enough for that to happen.

And then, of course, there is the fact sea grass is rarely seen in over six feet of water.

In the 1950s and 1960s, there was a narrow stretch of sea graa along the bay side shoreline from the ferry landing to Woodring’s Point. Over the years, these grass flats slowly disappeared and at the time there were only a couple of docks along this whole shoreline. The disappearance of these grass flats was a natural occurrance without the help of man.

To those who say the building of docks will change the pristine atmosphere of Sanibel, all I can think of is what did they think building their home on Sanibel did?

And to those who want to keep Sanibel “Sanibel,” all I can say is that ended with the first causeway to the Island of Sanibel. Just think, if we who lived on Sanibel and Captiva before the causeway had the same mindset and political connections of today, I wouldn’t be writing this and you wouldn’t be reading it.

Capt. Bob Sabatino