While you’re cruising around in your rental boat this weekend, you may notice that you’re encountering more than just fish, dolphins and fellow boaters. Yes, the Indian River Lagoon is a one-of-a-kind estuary full of life. While most people only think they only share the lagoon with fish, birds, and marine mammals, the truth is there is a vast array of marine vegetation living down in that brackish water that keeps the river alive.
Here’s a quick field guide to the plant life that helps the Indian River Lagoon thrive.
Seagrass – Seagrass is the most important plant in the lagoon. It provides shelter and food for fish, manatees, and turtles. There are seven kinds of seagrass in the Indian River:
- Turtle Grass
- Shoal Grass
- Manatee Grass
- Star Grass
- Johnson’s Sea Grass
- Paddle Grass
- Widgeon Grass
American Beautyberry – Beautyberries are the shrubs with the bright purple berries that bloom in the fall. The fruit provides food for birds that call the Indian River Home.
Black, Red, and White Mangroves – Mangroves grow in the area between water and land. The mangrove roots hiding spots and shelter for the many fish and mollusks that live in the Indian River. Their roots prevent erosion.
Railroad Vine – Railroad vine is a really cool flowering plant that grows on the banks of the Indian River. They can get 30 feet long and can have big purple flowers that can reach five inches in diameter. Their roots also prevent erosion.
These are only a few of the 2,100 species of plant life that grows along the Indian River Lagoon. Next time you’re drinking in the beauty of the sparkling water from your pontoon boat, take a look at the shore, or down in the water and appreciate the cool plants that keep this estuary alive. If you want to check out these plants sooner than later, give us a call to reserve your boat for this weekend. Put that boat club membership to work!