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Helgoland Marine Research

Open Access

Environmental management of a highly impacted, urbanized tropical estuary: rehabilitation and restoration

  • A. Thorhaug1
Helgoländer Meeresuntersuchungen33:614


The principles of the dynamics and interrelationships within the dominant subtropical and tropical Caribbean seagrass community have been studied previously before, during, and after impact. From these and scores of observations of damage and recovery patterns inThalassia ecosystems, a sense of management recovery strategy has emerged. Artificial restoring ofThalassia testudinum seeds into areas cut off from stock (fruit, seeds) appeared feasible on a large scale after the Turkey Point (Biscayne Bay, Miami, Florida) restoration and test sampling throughout North Biscayne Bay. Two large-scale seeding attempts were made; after 11 months they compared favorably with Turkey Point specimens with regard to growth parameters, despite the turbidity and other persistent pollution. Thus, the possible areas in whichThalassia seed restoration can be used has increased to include estuaries of multiple impact still in various stages of recovery after physical and sewage pollution. This technique should be especially useful to “developing” nations where important nearshore fisheries nurseries based onThalassia ecosystems have been heavily damaged and now lie barren. Man's impact on the estuary where seed restoration was attempted includes the following activities: 50% of the bay bottom directly dredged or filled (leaving much unconsolidated sediment); 50 million gallons of domestic waste dumped directly into a low flushing part of the bay for 20 years; seven major causeways transecting the bay, restricting circulation and flushing; two artificial inlets made into navigational channels; freshwater sheet flow drastically changed due to channelization by flood-control canals; urban runoff from a million people entering the bay. Most of the impacts have now abated; however, their long-term effects remain.