SCCF Marine Lab reports on seaweed observations
In early March, Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation researchers found a diverse and abundant seaweed community in the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. Back at the lab, the sample was sorted by species, dried in the oven, and will be weighed to determine biomass at each site when the lab reopens. As part of a long-standing partnership with the refuge, the SCCF Marine Laboratory conducts routine monitoring of nutrients, water quality, seagrass, and macroalgae or seaweed at 10 sites. Generally, higher abundances but fewer species of seaweed are observed dominating in the sites closest to the Tarpon Bay. Further west, near Wulfert Flats, lower abundances and more diversity of up to nine species are observed. SCCF research shows that excess nitrogen from freshwater runoff and discharges from the Caloosahatchee can fuel the growth of a couple of dominant species and lessen the biodiversity. Overgrowth of seaweed can be detrimental to the overall ecosystem, including shrimp, crabs and fish that thrive in healthy seagrass communities.