About 175 volunteers got down in the sand Saturday morning behind the Sirata Beach Resort, working to plant 5,000 sea oats to prevent beach erosion.
"Sea oats are a native plant that grows down here on Florida beaches," said Adam Duff, manager of volunteer services at The Florida Aquarium. "They're drought tolerant and they're great. They actually hold the sand in."
Sea oats, Duff said, will hold sand dunes back, preventing wind and water from eroding sand.
Prior to Tropical Storm Debby, which recently hammered the Tampa area, the aquarium teamed with St. Pete Beach and the resort, at 5300 Gulf Blvd.
"Debby came about a week ago and really showed us the importance of doing this exact project," Duff said. "The type of erosion caused by tropical storms and hurricanes is exactly what we're trying to prevent by planting these native plants."
Thanks to the sea oats, in a year people will see more sand and native vegetation in the area, Duff said. "You will absolutely notice a difference."
Aquarium member Terri Lord and her two children were among Saturday's volunteers. "We think it's really important to do all we can to protect the environment," she said, "especially with the storm that just went by."