Do you love the underwater marine life around the UK and further afield? Ever fancied yourself as a marine scientist? Now’s your chance to do your bit for the ocean by contributing to a ‘real life’ scientific project!
Project Seagrass is a UK-based charity that is dedicated to the global conservation of seagrass using research, influence, education and positive actions. They are based at the Sustainable Places Research Institute in Cardiff and are now in their fourth year of operations.
‘Seagrass … boring! Where are the fish/sharks/dugongs/turtles?’ I can hear some of you say. So, here’s a few facts to help you fall in love with this fascinating underwater plant (yes, it’s a plant … there’s fact number one!):
- Seagrass meadows act as a natural sea defence by trapping sediment and slowing down currents and waves;
- Seagrass provides a home for many baby fish, playing the part of a nursery area (no place for baby fish to grow, no more big fish!);
- Seagrass meadows are crucial in the fight against climate change because they absorb and store vast amounts of carbon (more than rainforests!);
- Seagrass absorbs nutrients, pollutants and bacteria, helping to keep our coastal waters clean;
- Seagrass is an important food source for many marine creatures like dugongs and turtles, and the meadows are used for resting and hunting by other creatures;
- The value of seagrass for us humans is estimated at around $40,000 per hectare and, looking at the wonderful things these meadows do for us, it’s not surprising!
Seagrass is such an important part of our oceans but it is disappearing at a rate of knots! It is estimated that more than the area of a football field is lost every hour and us divers are in a frontline position to give a helping hand.
Project Seagrass have developed a tool called the Seagrass Spotter that is available as a mobile app or via website. All you need to do is register yourself, take photos of seagrass when you’re diving or snorkelling, upload them, record the location, and add any other details you can. Quick and simple!
Joining the Team Seagrass Community and uploading a sighting helps to track where and why seagrass is growing or disappearing. This is a big step towards conserving our ocean, for the creatures that call the ocean home and for us visitors to continue to enjoy.