Until recently, seagrass restoration was accomplished by
labor-intensive, hand-planting methods. Mechanical installation may
speed the seagrass planting process and, potentially, allow habitat
restoration at a lower cost.
Until recently, all seagrass restoration was accomplished by
labor-intensive, hand-planting methods. However, James
Anderson, president of Seagrass Recovery, Inc., has developed a
vessel to mechanically plant bare-root bundles of seagrass. Using a
vessel Anderson named "Jeb," the mechanical installation speeds the
seagrass planting process and requires fewer man-hours than
hand-planting techniques. This method potentially allows the
habitat to be restored at a lower cost per acre than by
Although mechanical seagrass planting is promising, the pros and
cons of this technique have not been fully determined.
Additionally, the growth and survival of mechanically transplanted
seagrasses has never been compared to that of seagrass installed
using more traditional hand-planting techniques.
Jeb is a 30-foot aluminum pontoon boat that has been modified to
allow seagrasses to be planted in a semi-automated fashion. Two
aluminum planting wheels containing plant injecting nozzles can be
raised and lowered through an open well in the center of the
boat. Workers feed units into each planting nozzle as the
planting wheel turns. When the planting nozzle penetrates the
sediment, the planting unit is released from the wheel at the down
position and inserted into the sediment.
Shoalgrass (Halodule wrightii) was planted at three
locations in the Tampa Bay area of Florida (Feather Sound,
Apollo Beach, Shell Island) during June and early July 2002 using
Jeb. At the same time, adjacent plots were planted with Shoalgrass
using three hand-planting techniques (staple, peat pot, and rubber
band units). Fifteen 50m x 10m plots were established at each
planting site. Planting treatments were randomly assigned to the
various plots (three plots using each technique at each site, plus
three control plots to evaluate natural recruitment).
Using all planting techniques at every planting site will enable
us to separate site-specific successes and failures from
method-linked ones. Seagrass cover in transplant plots will be
determined using Braun-Blanquet cover/abundance analysis conducted
semi-annually for at least three years. Videotaping will also be
used to establish a permanent visual record of the progression of