90.7 WMFE and 89.5 WMFV are Central Florida's primary provider of NPR programming and Classical Music. Part of the community since 1965, providing quality national and local news and programming. We inspire and empower all Central Floridians to discover, grow and engage within and beyond their world.
Support for 90.7 WMFE is provided by

Projects aim to restore Indian River Lagoon seagrass as manatees starve

Two orphaned calves ended up at a SeaWorld rehabilitation center, where they faced a long recovery. Photo by Amy Green

An unprecedented die-off of manatees this year in Florida is renewing focus on the animal’s habitat.  

In the Indian River Lagoon several projects are underway to restore a widespread loss of seagrass, the manatee’s favorite food. 

Ongoing water quality problems have wiped out more than half of the seagrass in the northern Indian River Lagoon. In the Banana River some 96% of the seagrass is gone.  

The City of Satellite Beach replanted an acre of seagrass. Nick Sanzone works for the city. He says the project also calls for clams and oysters, natural water filters. 

“We know that the salinity, the temperature, the depth of the bottom and the visibility were all at one time the right conditions for seagrasses. So therefore they should be again.”

Brian Lapointe of the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute says the project is a good start but will struggle until the lagoon’s nutrient pollution is addressed, a much bigger job.

“We’re starting to see this vision that we really need to focus our efforts on restoring the water quality. And only then are we going to be able to successfully restore seagrasses.”

Seagrass also has been replanted north of the Merritt Island Airport, and plans call for another project along the Titusville Causeway. 

Laurilee Thompson, a local businesswoman and conservationist, says the project north of the airport began five years ago.

“There are patches of grass that are still there in the area, and that is compared to other areas of the system that are a complete desert now. There is no grass at all, zero, none, zilch.” 

Some 974 manatees have died this year in Florida. More than half of the deaths have been in the Indian River Lagoon. The animal was downlisted in 2017 from endangered to threatened. 


Get The 90.7 WMFE Newsletter

Your trusted news source for the latest Central Florida news, updates on special programs and more.

Stay tuned in to our local news coverage: Listen to 90.7 WMFE on your FM or HD radio, the WMFE mobile app or your smart speaker — say “Alexa, play NPR” and you’ll be connected.

WMFE Journalistic Ethics Code | Public Media Code of Integrity

Amy Green

About Amy Green

Reporter and Producer

Amy Green covers the environment and climate change at WMFE News. She is an award-winning journalist and author whose extensive reporting on the Everglades is featured in the book MOVING WATER, published by Johns Hopkins University Press, and podcast DRAINED, available wherever you get your podcasts. Amy’s ... Read Full Bio »