Seagrass for People and Nature
Sometimes called “the prairies of the sea”, seagrasses are found throughout shallow bays and inlets around the globe. Helping improve water clarity, dampening wave action, preventing shoreline erosion and providing valuable nurseries and feeding grounds for fish and other marine life that support commercial and recreational fishermen.
But seagrass beds are dying at an alarming rate – reduced by as much as 90 percent in some bays across the Gulf of Mexico. Globally, scientists estimate that we may be losing a seagrass meadow the size of a soccer field every 30 minutes.
Restoring seagrass can yield big returns.
Scientists working with The Conservancy recently found that an acre of seagrass in some bays may produce as much as $8,000 in commercially important fish per year. Seagrass beds are most helpful to fish populations early in the life cycle when larvae are maturing into young (and vulnerable) fish. The authors analyzed more than 400 published studies for comparisons of juvenile fish populations in seagrass habitat and in nearby areas of bare seafloor. By understanding the contribution seagrass meadows can make to local economies, coastal planners and restoration experts can better weigh development and conservation investments.
To help restore and protect seagrasses around the world, the Conservancy continues to pioneer restoration techniques, from bird stakes to planting. Over the past three years alone, 250 volunteers have contributed more than 1,200 hours collecting reproductive shoots containing ripe seeds from the underwater plants. The shoots were measured into water tanks, and the seeds were then cured, separated, and prepared for fall planting.
Scientists find an acre of seagrass can produce as much as $8,000 in fish a year.
What is it like to participate in the world’s most successful seagrass restoration project?
From 400 acres to 5,000 – restoring seagrass and now the fish are coming back too.
Approach and mapping tools for coastal planners, and helping people and nature adapt to sea level rise and other coastal hazards.
Highlights from a Decade of Partnership between The Nature Conservancy and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Restoration Center.