“June grass” is a floating marine algae that occurs in blooms along the coast of the northern Gulf of Mexico. There are extensive anecdotal reports of June grass blooms in the Florida Panhandle and south Alabama. The biology of June grass is not currently understood and persistent blooms have raised ecological and economic concerns. When June grass accumulates in large concentrations along the shore and begins to decompose it may contribute to anoxia, lack of oxygen, in coastal waters. This process can be harmful to fish and other marine life because bacteria that are decomposing the alga can deplete the oxygen. Additionally, such accumulations of June grass could have negative effects on local recreation and hospitality industries, with potential impacts on beach-dependent economies.
The June Grass Working group is a collaboration between public, private, and academic entities to learn more about the June grass phenomenon. Partners include UF/IFAS Extension, Mattie Kelley Environmental Institute at Northwest Florida State College, and volunteers.
The initial objectives of the June Grass Working Group are:
- Identify the species of algae observed during June grass blooms
- Establish a quantitative sampling program to document June grass distribution and prevalence
- Develop citizen science outreach for the continued monitoring of June Grass blooms
- Create student research opportunities within the June Grass monitoring framework
- Provide information on June Grass blooms to stakeholders