Seagrass Conservation


Indian River Lagoon seagrass sprouts back from record low 

Divers begin restoration work on a sea-grass meadow off Helsinki

Battling climate change, Japan looks to seagrass for carbon capture

Seagrass planted to tackle global warming

Like most awareness days, it’s a chance to raise awareness of why seagrasses really matter to the planet.   It’s so important to the planet that the United Nations have formally recognised World Seagrass Day.  But first of all, a question:

What are seagrasses?  

Seagrasses are flowering plants living in shallow, sheltered areas along our coast.  Their bright green leaves form large meadows under the sea, all full of life, with animals of all shapes and sizes.  Many species of animals depend on seagrass for food and shelter.  Shellfish, seahorses, manatees and sea turtles, dugong and sharks all need seagrass for food and habitat.   Seagrass absorbs huge amounts of carbon so it is important in the fight against climate change.  

Busy soundscapes of seagrass meadows and the animals that live there revealed in new recordings – podcast

Many people depend on seagrass meadows, and the meadows provide landscapes which connect. Seagrass meadows give key nutrition to nearly 3 billion people, as well as 50% of animal protein to 400 million people around the world.  They form the basis of the world’s primary fishing grounds, since they supply over 20 of the fisheries in the world.  Take a look at Fauna and Flora International  who have an article on what seagrass is, why it matters and how we can help.

Although seagrass occupies just 0.1% of the seafloor, they are responsible for 18% of the carbon buried in the ocean, according to the UN!  Seagrass meadows, mangroves and coastal wetlands capture carbon at a greater rate than tropical forests.   An article on The Conversation on 16 February 2023 says that Tropical seagrass meadows are sand factories that can help defend coral reef islands from sea-level rise

So what are the threats to seagrasses?

  • Destructive fishing
  • Climate change
  • Physical destruction
  • Coastal development
  • Poor water quality
  • Pollution

122 scientists across 28 countries have endorsed a statement calling for seagrass conservation action to give seagrass a future.  The World Seagrass Association  say there needs to be targeted action to conserve seagrass as its important role to the health of the oceans and the world is increasingly more clearly understood.

Ways to help seagrass

  • Donate to an appeal or support a charity helping to protect seagrass such as Project Seagrass
  • Watch for and report seagrass sightings - become a citizen scientist for the seagrass cause!  Seagrass Spotter is a tool to help you locate seagrass.  It helps you learn about seagrass and why it is under threat, there’s a guide to seagrass spotting whether you are under water or on foot – you can contribute to seagass conservation with just a few taps of your phone!   And there’s an amazing tool to help you identify which seagrass you are seeing!
  • Get involved in one of the organisations listed below - find out what you can do to help them.

Sponsor a seagrass pod
with the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust
1 for £20.00, 2 for £40.00
This makes a great gift for anyone who loves nature, the sea and marine life

Organisations involved in seagrass conservation

IUCN SSC Seagrass Specialist Group contributes to and encourages seagrass science and conservation, with the goal of protecting seagrass species biodiversity worldwide and preserving the functions and values of seagrass habitat, including its role in protecting threatened and endangered species that depend on seagrasses for their survival.

Seagrass-Watch Global Seagrass Observing Network is a not-for-profit organisation which accurately monitors the status and trends in seagrass condition.  It has undertaken over 5700 assessments at 418 sites across 26 countries.  You can get involved as a Seagrass Spotter.

Seagrass Watch - Long-term monitoring has been established in Indonesia as part of the Seagrass-Watch, Global Seagrass Observing Network - this will help monitor changes in the health status of seagrass meadows and encourage local communities to get involved.

Ocean Conservation Trust based in Plymouth UK is a global Ocean conservation charity working towards our vision of a healthy Ocean.  It has a seagrass reforestation project and it is partnering Royal Botanical Gardens Kew, Plymouth University, the Marine Biological Association, and Natural England. The Trust is developing techniques with the aim of large-scale reforestation of temperate seagrass meadows.  Why not take their #thinkocean challenge, a quick quiz for you to find out how you #thinkocean, and then how you can make some small changes for a big impact. 

Swansea University is leading the UK's biggest seagrass restoration project, Seagrass Ocean Rescue - find out about it here,  WWF, Carlsberg, Sky Ocean Rescue and Project Seagrass are also involved.  They are starting with 2 hectares. The project aims to restore 20,000 m2 of the marine plant in west Wales, after up to 92 per cent of the UK’s seagrass disappeared in the last century. The decline has been due to  pollution, runoff from the land, coastal development and damage from boat propellers and chain moorings.

Seawilding is pioneering Scotland’s first community-led Restoration of Seagrass for Ocean Wealth  at Loch Craignish

Restoration of Seagrass for Ocean Wealth (ReSOW UK) is a project which faciliates "informed management and restoration of seagrass for sustainable social, environmental and economc net gains for the UK." 

Project Seagrass in the UK  is in the business of planting, helping wildlife recover and getting people and communities involved.  Project Seagrass is a global facing environmental charity devoted to the conservation of seagrass ecosystems through research, community and action.

Marine Conservation Society is a partner in a huge seagrass planting programme in Plymouth Sound National Marine Park.  

Association for Coastal Ecosystem Services works with local communities in coastal regions in the developing world, especially in East Africa. It helps local people to  restore and conserve their natural coastal ecosystems

Dugong Seagrass empowers coastal communities to take the lead in protecting dugongs and seagrass in the Bazaruto Archipelago Region, Mozambique.

Find out about the Baltic Seagrass Project here 

Water Matters, Florida - they have a video about their Seagrass Mapping 2024  (June 2024)

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