A Toolkit for Inspiring Boaters to Preserve Seagrass

Worldwide, seagrass is disappearing at a rate of 8% a year. Much of this is due to poor water quality or rising temperatures, but a significant amount of seagrass damage is caused by boaters whose propellers get tangled in seagrass beds, causing what are called “prop scars.” These “prop scars” cut across large swaths of seagrass and can take years to go away, if the seagrass is able to recover at all. Prop scars are an especially large problem in areas with high amounts of recreational boating activity, such as the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

Protecting Seagrass from Propellers

At The Ocean Foundation, we want to not only plant seagrass to restore prop scars and conserve healthy seagrass beds, but also to prevent scarring and damage from happening in the first place. This is why we focus on education to the public and, importantly, to boaters whose behavior poses a threat to seagrass health.

With the support of the Turner Foundation, The Ocean Foundation has created the report, “Changing Boater Behavior to Protect Seagrass: A Toolkit for Designing and Implementing a Behavior Change Campaign for Seagrass Damage Prevention.” This toolkit takes a rigorous and comprehensive look at the history of boater outreach programs, examples of successful conservation-based behavior change campaigns, and the new and emerging tools that could aid in the development of a new behavior change campaign. In our report, we outline a multi-step process for resource managers to design their own behavior change campaigns, built on the best practice we identified through our research.

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We piloted this toolkit, following the above design process, and created our own campaign materials. We utilized Google Consumer Survey to test how effective our campaign messages were and pick the best fit for our audience: Florida Boaters. The three designs we produced, including the “winning” design, are shown below.


Design 1

Seagrass…Steer Clear to Keep it Here


Design 2

Protect Florida’s Treasure: Seagrass



Smart Boaters Know To Let Seagrass Grow

We recognize that designing a full behavior change campaign can be time and resource intensive. To make this process more accessible, we are offering our campaign designs and design elements (such as pictures of boats, seagrass, and boaters) for you to use to create your own campaign materials.