Seagrass beds are some of the most valuable habitats on Earth.

They provide essential food and nursery areas for sea turtles, manatees, and countless species of fish and invertebrates. Seagrasses help trap fine sediments and particles that are suspended in the water, increasing water clarity, as well as filter nutrients from land-based industrial discharge and water runoff.

In addition to these important ecological services, seagrass beds have a tremendous economic impact by providing rich eco-tourism destinations and hosting over 70 percent of Florida’s fish species who spend at least one part of their lives there.

However, seagrasses are some of the most threatened habitats in Florida, largely due to scars from boat propellers.

In an effort to increase seagrass awareness among boaters and inform them of best boating practices in the seagrass beds of St. Joseph Bay, the Friends of St. Joseph State Parks partnered with Jon Brucker, manager of St. Joseph Bay Aquatic Preserve, to provide funding for a new seagrass sign at Eagle Harbor in St. Joseph Peninsula State Park.

This eye-catching sign reminds boaters that “Scars Hurt,” and encourages them to use navigation channels or deeper water, trim motors up over seagrass beds, and to turn off motors and push boats to safer depths when they run aground.

Although seagrass damage is considerable throughout Florida, it is 100 percent preventable with good boating habits and etiquette, and in time, scarring can be reversed.

Visit BeSeagrassSafe.com to learn more about how to keep local seagrass beds healthy and boating enjoyable for everyone.