SEAGRASS AND HOW WE CAN PROTECT IT
WHAT IS IT?
Seagrasses are the only flowering plants able to live in seawater and pollinate while submerged. They require a large amount of sunlight for photosynthesis to grow and therefore are only found in shallow waters, such as bays and lagoons around the world. Seagrass has been given its name because of its long, narrow leaves, which share a resemblance to some terrestrial grasses you might come across on your country walks
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Seagrasses are a vital part of the marine ecosystem, as they:
- Provide food and habitat for other marine organisms
- Maintain water quality by helping trap fine sediments and particles that are suspended in the water column, which increases water clarity
- Support local economies
- Protect coastlines by helping slow down erosion as large meadows slow down ocean waves as well as the seagrass roots help to stabilise and strengthen sediment and so protect the coastline from erosion
Much like rainforests, seagrass meadows absorb and store huge amounts of carbon dioxide. Seagrass are commonly known as the "lungs of the sea" because just 1 square meter of seagrass can generate up to 10 liters of oxygen every day through photosynthesis. It’s been calculated that seagrass is responsible for 15% of the ocean’s total carbon absorption.
HOW CAN WE PROTECT IT?
Unfortunately seagrass is one of the most rapidly declining ecosystems on Earth. A lack of awareness about the importance of seagrass has resulted in poor conservation and management. But not all is lost. Seagrass is also one of the most resilient plants on the planet and will be able to bounce back rapidly with enough support.
Some of the ways you can help:
- Visit Seagrass conservation websites, such as Sea Grass Watch, Dugong Conservation and Project Seagrass
- Volunteer and help support seagrass conservation efforts and the wildlife that lives there
- Go visit a seagrass meadow, grab a snorkel, go for a dive and see what you can find