After Irma, dead seagrass 'as far as the eye can see' in Florida Bay – Miami Herald
Hurricane Irma left a massive footprint across the Florida Everglades.
From Florida Bay to Shark River, signs of the Category 4 hurricane could be seen in vast mats of floating dead seagrass, mangroves stripped of their leaves, and rafts of seaweed pushed far ashore. Along the northwest side of Cape Sable, where the powerful hurricane’s storm surge hit hardest, a newly widened beach stretches toward the wetlands.
In the Dry Tortugas, the storm knocked down a 60-foot stretch of the moat wall at Fort Jefferson. The visitor center at Flamingo, hammered by Hurricane Wilma in 2005 and in the midst of restoration, got pounded again.
After Hurricane Irma, floating mats of dead seagrass appeared near Cape Sable and Flamingo area of Everglades National Park. The mats raise concern because two years ago, a seagrass die-off that covered more than 60-square miles threatened Florida Bay.
Stephen Davis Everglades Foundation
It will be a while before Irma’s full toll on the Everglades becomes clear, but a flyover this week by Everglades Foundation wetland ecologist Stephen Davis and early surveys by park staff provided a glimpse of the storm’s vast reach.
“As far as the eye could see to the south were floating mats of uprooted seagrass,” Davis said of the bay. “For me that was the most dramatic, and I don’t want to say most concerning because of the human impacts around this storm. But we’ve been keeping an eye on Florida Bay for a couple of years since that [seagrass] die- off.”