Alarming rates of seagrass loss observed around the globe
The accelerated loss of seagrass observed in oceans around the world has reached alarming proportions. According to a recent study, there is only 177,000 sq. km. of these valuable marine plants remaining globally. The current rate of depletion has been placed at 110 sq. km. a year.
Seagrasses are flowering plants found in shallow waters and their photosynthetic productivity or their ability to convert CO2 into oxygen has been compared to that of rice paddies. According to U.S. based Seagrass Recovery, “One acre of seagrass can lock away nearly eight metric tonnes of carbon per year, which equals the CO2 emissions from a car travelling more than 3,500 miles.” The paper, which is to be published in the U.S. journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was conducted by Australian and American scientists who have called seagrasses “sentinels of change” and speak of the loss of seagrass as indicative of our deteriorating marine ecosystems.
With 70 per cent of all marine life dependent on seagrass and a value of U.S.$ 1.9 trillion a year in nutrient cycling, enhancement of coral reef fish productivity, providing habitats for marine species and being a major food source for dugongs and turtles, it is vital that these fragile marine plants be protected and conserved.