In 2016, dockside revenue for blue crabs caught in the Gulf of Mexico was in excess of 65 million dollars. Blue crabs are highly dependent on seagrass (Thalassia testudinum) habitat for their reproduction and growth. Yet the impact of hurricanes on seagrass health, and therefore blue crab economics, is unknown.
In response to this need, NOAA’s RESTORE Science Program is pleased to announce $155,538 in supplemental funding for the University of Southern Mississippi to assess the impact of Hurricane Michael on seagrass communities in the northern Gulf of Mexico. This award will build on an existing award that measured seagrass community health and blue crab mortality across Florida, Lousianna, and Texas in the season prior to Hurricane Michael. This additional work responds to input from a resource management advisory team supporting the existing award and the results from this study will be used to improve blue crab fisheries management in the wake of future hurricanes.