How much do you know about the marine powerhouse that is seagrass?
Everyone knows the flashy, beautiful coral reef but very few recognize the incredible power of its' less showy cousin, seagrass. Working hard in the background, seagrass meadows go underappreciated for all they do in regulating our environment and ocean habitats. Not only do seagrass host the perfect place for the growth of baby fish but they also help absorb lethal carbon into the seabed. Despite their lack of attention, seagrass meadows are critical to the wellbeing of the ocean.
To put into perspective just how hard these meadows work, seagrass produce carbon capture storage rates up to 100 times greater than those of rainforests. In addition, one hectare (107, 639 sq. feet) can accommodate 80,000 fish while producing up to 100,000 liters of oxygen each day.
In a recent study by Plymouth University, researchers found that Mediterranean seagrass meadows contribute 190 million euros, or 221,311,050 US dollars to the local fisheries. Unfortunately, however, we are losing seagrass at the rate of two football pitches per hour. While similar to the rainforest loss rate, the valuable seagrass meadows receive only a fraction of the attention. Some of the threats to seagrass include, anchorings and moorings that uproot the grasses as well as coastal development and pollution that inhibit proper sunlight needed for growth.
In hopes of combatting the loss of this critical marine species, a new program called Community Seagrass Initiative has been launched in southwest England out of Plymouth's National Aquarium. The project covers 191 miles of coastline. Similarly, Wales has put into action Project Seagrass, a charity dedicated to conserving these invaluable ecosystems globally through "education, influence, research and action." For more information on seagrass conservation or to take part in conservation efforts check out Blue Planet Society.
Picture credit: Blue Planet Society