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.
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.
Although seagrass occupies just 0.1% of the seafloor, they are responsible for 11% of the carbon buried in the ocean! Seagrass meadows, mangroves and coastal wetlands capture carbon at a greater rate than tropical forests.
At the moment, it is thought we are losing an area of seagrass that is equivalent to two football pitches, every hour. But why?
Threats to seagrass
- Destructive fishing
- Climate change
- Physical destruction
- Coastal development
- Poor water quality
Ways to help seagrass
- Donate to an appeal - a number of the Wildlife Trusts have appeals
- 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!
- Support the #OneHectare campaign - did you know that ine hectare of seagrass can produce 100,000 litres of oxygen a year? Or that ine hectare of seagrass can absorb 35 times more CO2 than a pristine area of rainforest
- Get involved in one of the organisations listed below - find out what you can do to help them.
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.
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. https://oceanconservationtrust.org/project/our-years-of-seagrass-work/
Seagrass conservation working group on BC coast We work to conserve and restore the ecological integrity of seagrass and other nearshore ecosystems in British Columbia by promoting research, inventories, communication and partnerships.
Association for https://aces-org.co.uk/goals-and-objectives/ East African coast
Restoration of Seagrass for Ocean Wealth (ReSOW UK)
Project Seagrass in the UK is in the business of planting, helping wildlife recover and getting people and communities involved.