These are just a sampling of the juvenile marine creatures that depend on the vast submerged prairies of seagrass that extend outward from our Big Bend region of Florida. My students netted these (and released them) on our recent field trip. It's only a minute sampling of the young creatures we saw that day.
The key word there is "YOUNG". The turtle grass, manatee grass, and shoal grass that coats the shallow bottom on this quiet coast is one vast nursery of sealife.
It's really quite incredible and so very productive.
The top picture is a full grown grass shrimp carrying her precious cargo of eggs beneath her abdomen.
My hand will provide the scale in these pics, so you can understand just how tiny these innocents are.
A young crab like the one above will spend it's youth in the deep grasses, hunting and trying to avoid ... well everything. Who doesn't like crab? Even if he moves out of the grass as an adult, he needs the sheltering blades to survive the very vulnerable early stages of his development.