Mangroves and seagrass provide food and shelter for a range of organisms

conch on a seagrass bed in the sanctuary

Mangrove and seagrass habitats are intricately connected to the coral reef ecosystem. Small critters find refuge within the tangle of mangrove roots, and many reef fish use the mangrove habitat as a nursery. Almost all fish and shellfish caught by commercial and recreational anglers spend some part of their life cycles in or near mangroves. And many animals such as Key deer and great white heron call the mangrove habitat home.

Seagrass communities, in turn, serve as the link between wetland and mangrove communities and hardbottom and coral reefs. Queen conch, Bahama sea stars, manatees, green sea turtles, and egrets are just a few of the many animals that live in seagrass meadows. By providing food and shelter to a range of fish, in 2010, seagrass beds supported an estimated $13.9 million in stone crab, spiny lobster, shrimp, yellowtail snapper, gray snapper, and blue crab harvests for Monroe County.

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