Shoal Markers Set Out To Protect Seagrass Beds At Biscayne National Park

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Shoal markers have been set out in Biscayne Bay to warn boaters away from fragile seagrass beds. NPS graphic.

To better protect fragile seagrass shoals and improve boater safety, Biscayne National Park recently completed the installation of 14 fixed shoal markers around the Featherbed Banks in southern Biscayne Bay.

The installation of the shoal markers was made possible in part with funding from the South Florida National Parks Trust.

Vessel groundings cause extensive damage to seagrass and coral reef habitat in the park, and boaters running aground risk personal injury and property damage.

Seagrass and mixed seagrass-coral shoals such as the Featherbed Banks perform critical ecosystem functions and provide habitat for many important species, including protected species such as manatees, sea turtles, and dolphins. When seagrass roots are destroyed it takes years for them to grow back.

The shallow Featherbed Banks support vibrant seagrass communities, but unfortunately are vessel grounding hotspots due to their central location in the park. Until now, the Featherbeds area lacked sufficient markers to warn boaters of the danger.

The park hopes that the new shoal markers, in addition to existing markers and navigational aids, will result in fewer vessel groundings in the area. Boaters are advised to keep a look out for the new markers, which are white diamond-shaped signs with an orange border, marked with "Danger Shoal" in black letters.

Always plan your route across the bay in advance, but if you come upon a shoal marker, reduce your speed and go around the shoal.