An official website of the United States government.
Official websites
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.
Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Seagrass Conservation on Florida’s Nature Coast

Seagrass conservation through actionable research: Management areas for prevention of scarring (SCAR MAPS)

Damage to seagrasses by propeller scarring in aquatic preserves of Florida’s Nature Coast is a growing issue that is of increasing concern to managers and stakeholders. The project team will collect geographic, biological, logistical, and socioeconomic data to pair with stakeholder guidance through a co-production model to address data gaps and inform how and where to manage propeller scarring.

Lead Investigator:  Savanna Barry, University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Nature Coast Biological Station and Florida Sea Grant (

Natural Resource Manager: Timothy Jones; Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection, Big Bend Seagrasses and St. Martins Marsh Aquatic Preserves

Project Team: Laura Reynolds, University of Florida; Mark Clark, University of Florida; Edward Camp, University of Florida; Kelly Grogan, University of Florida; Micheal Allen, University of Florida; Josh Patterson, University of Florida; Holly Abeels, University of Florida; Tom Ankersen, University of Florida – Emeritus; Capt. John Bazo, Homosassa Guides Association; Capt. William Toney, Homosassa Guides Association

Technical Monitors: Mark Sramek ( and Steve Giordano (

Federal Program Officer/Point of Contact: Frank Parker (

Award Amount: $1,850,864

Award Period: October 2023 – September 2028

Why it matters: Recreational fisheries are an important part of Florida’s economy, but those fisheries are dependent on the availability of high-quality habitat. Seagrass habitat with clear, shallow waters are important for for-hire fishing captains who guide clients through seagrass habitat in pursuit of redfish, seatrout, tarpon, and snook. But power boat propellers frequently damage seagrass beds, leading to seagrass scarring. Resource managers must understand where seagrass scarring is concentrated, how seagrass scarring impacts the food that recreational fish consume, and the potential economic impacts of management actions such as pole-troll zones.

What the team is doing: This project will improve our understanding of seagrass scarring in Florida’s Nature Coast by first using drones and surveys to produce a comprehensive map of seagrass scars in shallow coastal waters. Investigators will use this map to find seagrass scar hotspots along the coast, and then collect fish, invertebrate, and water quality information in hotspots and compare it to areas without seagrass scars. This information will give resource managers information on how seagrass scars impact habitat quality for economically important recreational fish. The team will also form a stakeholder advisory council, who will provide feedback on research and implementation of findings. Finally, the project team will survey recreational anglers to determine how pole-troll  zones would impact their behavior and economic livelihood. 

Expected outcome: Project investigators will compile the data collected and make recommendations to resource managers about potential management actions that optimize both ecosystem and economic outcomes, such as priority seagrass restoration locations, restoration strategies, stakeholder-supported enforcement, and policy action plans.