Our planet is facing a climate crisis and the impact is clear to see – floods, storms, bushfires, soaring temperatures and melting ice sheets. But a tiny plant that lives in our shallow seas could help solve some of our environmental problems – and you can help us secure its future.
What is seagrass?
Seagrass is a flowering plant that lives underwater around the UK’s coast in shallow, sheltered areas. It forms marine meadows which are highly productive ecosystems and biodiversity hotspots.
Why is seagrass so important?
- Carbon storage: Seagrass is the single most important species in the sea for locking in CO2. As a habitat it is far more carbon rich, and good at absorbing carbon than an equivalent area of rainforest.
- Protecting coasts: With rising sea levels causing coastal erosion, healthy seagrass blades – often up to 1m high - can reduce the power of waves washing away our sheltered coves and beaches.
- Protection for important species: Seagrass beds are essential nurseries and egg-laying habitats for seafood species such as cod and crabs as well as other species including cuttlefish and sharks.
- A forest shelter: Seagrass is a complex ‘forest’ that hides many animals, and increases the organic enrichment of the sand and muds around the root systems. This is a vital shelter and food source for molluscs, shrimp, crustaceans, anemones and other ‘invertebrates’ to thrive in.
The problem - Seagrass is in decline
Many UK seagrass beds have decreased in size over the past century. The decline has been caused by industrial growth, modification of ports and sheltered harbours, boat traffic, increasing and stronger storm events, and more recently and most damaging of all, pollution within the water column that affects the light getting to the seagrass beds, and increases the amount of ‘fouling’ algae on the seagrass strands. Now, from global research over the past 20 years, we are more aware of the vital role seagrass plays in the environment and can now make the case for the protection and recovery of such vital inshore habitats.
How MCS is helping reverse the decline
We are part of an exciting project that seeks to enhance the technologies available to reduce the damage of seagrass beds, whilst also sowing new beds into appropriate places. Such work will enable recovery of such a vital part of our marine ecosystem at a time when the climate crisis is part and parcel of our work.
How you can help
If you’d like to help us with our Save Our Marine Meadows Appeal, your donation will help us to install advanced moorings to replace traditional, damaging anchoring methods and allow seagrass around the south coast of England to recover.
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