White seagrass found on Longboat

 

White seagrass found on Longboat

 

Date: June 12, 2009
by: Kurt Schultheis | City Editor

 
 

A bleached out, spaghetti-shaped seagrass called manatee grass made its way to the shores of Longboat Key Wednesday, June 10.

Seaplace resident Barbara Koetsier was surprised to find the brittle manatee grass on the shore just north of The Colony Beach and Tennis Resort.

“It’s the first time I have ever seen it on the beach,” Koetsier said.

The white blades of grass are cylindrical, rather than flat, and are 4 to 12 inches in length.

Hayley Rutger, public relations specialist for Mote Marine Laboratory, said Mote scientists are uncertain as to why large deposits of the grass have washed up on shore.

“We do know it’s white, because by the time it makes its way to shore, it’s bleached out,” said Rutger, who explained that manatee grass is completely harmless and odorless.

Manatee grass is a shallow species of grass that thrives at depths of 2 to 3 feet, but can also live in areas with a depth of up to 60 feet. The grass got its name from manatees, which munch on the grass as a source of food.

Public Works Director Juan Florensa said the town only cleans up remnants of red tide or foul-smelling seaweed that washes ashore on Longboat Key.

The manatee grass is expected to wash out with the tide – eventually.

Contact Kurt Schultheis at kschultheis@yourobserver.com.

 

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