Seagrasses, Too!

SEAGRASSES ARE THE GRASSY EQUIVALENTS OF MANGROVES, essential to the health of the reefs, the oceans, Mother Earth and humankind. And, again, found in shallow coastal waters worldwide. And, again, threatened.

They provide many of the same benefits as mangroves – offering food and shelter to juvenile fishes, small finfishes and to crustaceans, mollusks and other invertebrates. They stabilize coastal areas and sequester carbon carbon dioxide.

AND CLEAN, TOO!  A recently published study has identified another way the world’s 60 or so species of seagrasses help the environment – by producing chemicals that can fight seawater pollutants like bacteria produced by humans and by fishes and other marine organisms. The study, “Seagrass ecosystems reduce exposure to bacterial pathogens of humans, fishes, and invertebrates,” conducted by a team of scientists from the United States, Australia, Monaco and Indonesia, was published in Science Magazine.

THE 50 PERCENT FACTOR  In “Underwater grasslands can cut concentrations of harmful bacteria in half,”  in Science Magazine’s daily newsfeed, science writer Michael Price takes a straightforward approach to this research, noting that the presence of bacterial pathogens harmful to human and marine life were reduced by about 50 percent around seagrass meadows. Corals near seagrass meadows were half as likely to be affected by some deadly pathogens, as well.

HELPFUL, AND LOSING A FOOTBALL FIELD’S WORTH EVERY 30 MINUTES  In Disappearing Seagrass Protects Against Pathogens, Even Climate Change, Scientists Find,” New York Times science writer Carl Zimmer writes about the extent, role and benefits of seagrasses and the fact that they are disappearing from the planet at a rate of 30 football fields a day

If you want to learn more about the importance – and need to preserved seagrass – sites like Project Seagrass have more information.