Seagrass Recovery in Tampa Bay, Florida (USA)
In Tampa Bay, Florida, USA, reduction in wastewater nutrient loading of approximately 90% in the late 1970s resulted in rapid reduction of more than 50% of external total nitrogen loading. Continuing nutrient management actions from public and private sectors are associated with a steadily declining TN load rate since the mid-1980s—despite an increase of more than 1M people living within the Tampa Bay metropolitan area since then—and with concomitant reduction in chlorophyll-a concentrations and ambient nutrient concentrations.
Seagrass extent has increased by more than 65% since the 1980s, and in 2014 exceeded the recovery goal adopted in 1996. There is evidence that Tampa Bay’s successful seagrass recovery may provide additional benefits, including buffering of global ocean acidification trends and increased carbon sequestration, both of which can be important to compensate for negative impacts of CO2 emissions.
Maintaining Tampa Bay’s positive trajectory towards recovery will require continued watershed-based nutrient management and community involvement.