The acreage of seagrasses in local waters has returned to levels scientist have not seen since the 1950s.
Sarasota Bay has seen a resurgence of crucial seagrasses, which the latest data show as the most measured since the Southwest Florida Management District began its mapping program.
According to a press release from SWFWMD, seagrasses beds now cover 13,288 acres of the bay, reflecting an increase of 701 acres, or roughly 6% since 2012.
All bay segments, which includes Manatee and Sarasota county waters, gained coverage between 2012 and 2014.
The district's formal mapping program began in 1988 but, according to the release, current seagrass coverage is the largest amount measured since the 1950s.
Seagrasses are used to measure the health of estuaries every two years using aerial photographs and field surveys.
“Seagrasses are an important barometer of the bay’s health because they require relatively clean water to flourish, thus they are sensitive to changes in water clarity and quality," the release states.