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West Galveston Bay Seagrass Restoration Project

Seagrasses are nurseries for many marine species, often supporting faunal densities much greater than those found in bare sand or mud habitats. In the western portion of the Galveston Bay estuary, seagrass acreage declined from 8.90 square km in 1956 to zero by 1989. Most of these seagrass meadows (primarily shoalgrass) grew along the barrier island edges of western West Bay. The only remaining seagrass beds still in existence are found in Christmas Bay, a semi-isolated embayment adjoining West Bay. Seagrass loss has been attributed primarily to direct and indirect effects of dredging canals for housing developments, increased turbidity and increased wave action after bulkheading.

Successful restoration of seagrass beds will increase habitat for species of commercial and recreational importance such as penaeid shrimp, blue crab and spotted sea trout as well as their prey, and it will also stabilize shorelines and slow erosion. Because of increased water clarity in the West Bay (due to decreased dredging) and the area's history of supporting lush seagrass beds, restoration now appears to be possible. However, natural recolonization has been hindered by the lack of nearby propagule or seed source; therefore, efforts were made to restore approximately 0.004 square km of viable shoalgrass in West Bay. The objectives were to determine survival and growth rates of transplanted shoalgrass planted at various densities and depths and to obtain evidence of increased faunal densities above those in neighboring non-vegetated substrates.

Principal Investigator(s) or Program Chair:
Sheridan, Pete

United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Fish and Wildlife
Texas General Land Office
Texas A&M University
Dillard University
Galveston Bay Foundation

Field of Focus:
Seagrass restoration

Study Site:   Galveston Bay

Award Amount:   $75,000

Award Period:   1994 - 1995


Keywords:   Submerged aquatic vegetation, Seagrass, Restoration, Estuarine habitat

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