Communities of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAY) are important components of many freshwater, brackish, and marine
aquatic ecosystems. They prevent erosion by baffling the impacts of waves, especially from storms. These aquatic plant
communities remove nutrients and other pollutants from river and runoff inputs to coastal areas, preventing their entry into
surrounding waters. They provide nursery habitat for fish, shrimp, and other species, as well as forage for wintering waterfowl
and endangered species such as sea turtles and manatees. Unfortunately, not only have the distribution and abundance
of seagrasses in the northern Gulf of Mexico declined precipitously during the past 50 years, most notably from widespread
deterioration of water quality, but submerged aquatic plant communities are also susceptible to long-term environmental
changes that are predicted to accompany global climate change.