Seagrass and Sea Turtles

It’s sea turtle month at the Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center and we are going to talk about seagrasses!


If you love sea turtles, you’ll love seagrasses even if you didn’t realize it! 

Seagrasses are a vital foundation of coastal ecosystems worldwide – providinghabitat and food for thousands of species, including sea turtles, while improving water quality. In nearshore habitats, seagrasses form critical habitat that sea turtles use as nursery habitat and foraging grounds. Different species of sea turtles use seagrass meadows differently. Green sea turtles of all ages feed directly on seagrasses and algae, which gives their fatty tissue a greenish color. This color is where “green” comes from in their name. Juvenile green sea turtles also spend a portion of their time utilizing seagrass meadows as habitat. Other sea turtle species feed on marine invertebrates that can be found in seagrass beds, like loggerhead sea turtles that feed on mollusks and crabs. 

The Florida Oceanographic Seagrass Training Education Restoration (F.O.S.T.E.R) program works to restore seagrasses – and help return the animals they support – to the Indian River Lagoon. We have 50 tanks dedicated to growing out seagrass for research and restoration in the lagoon. With the help of volunteers, we collect stranded seagrass fragments from local shorelines and grow these fragments out into nursery tanks for use in restoration. Currently, we are growing out 3 species of seagrass – Halodule wrightii (shoal grass), Thalassia testudinum (turtle grass), and Syringodium filiforme (manatee grass) – that are commonly found in the lagoon and can be seen in our nurseries at the Coastal Center. This process creates an important non-destructive source of seagrass for research and restoration. Restored seagrass beds will begin to function like natural seagrass meadows and over time regain all the ecosystem functions that seagrasses provide – including habitat and food for sea turtles.          


Kathryn Tiling, Ph.D. is a Research Scientist at Florida Oceanographic Society. She can be reached at

Click HERE to Learn more about the F.O.S.T.E.R. Program


Seagrass Nursery 



Manatee Grass



Shoal Grass


Seagrass Nursery 



Turtle Grass