Seagrass is a wonderful underwater plant that lives in the clear shallow seas around our Island.
Seagrass is a climate and nature super hero, with its amazing ability to capture and store carbon, protect shorelines and provide habitat for lots of animals.
Many animals call the leafy blades of a seagrass meadow home, from baby fish, to beautiful grooved top-shells and even the occasional pipefish or octopus! If you have ever had the joy of swimming over one, you would know why; they form their own watery world, creating calm, clear waters with lots of places to hide and lay eggs. These habitats aren’t only important for the carbon they hold, but the many species that call them home.
Image of seagrass Zostera Marina by Rowan Henthorn
Sadly we have lost around 90% of our seagrass meadows around the British Isles over the last 100 years. This is largely thought to be from a perfect storm of disease, pollution and any rain or potable water that flows off the land and into the sea .
The good news is that efforts are underway to map, protect and restore seagrass meadows all around the UK and in the Isle of Man! Through the Manx Blue Carbon Project, a collaborative partnership has been formed with the National Oceanography Centre and Swansea University, and local partners Manx Wildlife Trust, Seasearch, and the newly formed Manx Eelgrass Group.
Mapping has so far found several new beds, and seagrass meadows that have outgrown their protective zones within Marine Nature Reserves. Partners are working together to make sure these new discoveries are protected for years to come, and to explore the restoration of lost or damaged seagrass beds.
You can look after seagrass by being mindful of activities that might affect water quality around the home, such as ensuring the proper disposal of chemical cleaning products. If you own a boat, you must anchor away from known seagrass areas, as seabed disturbance can damage the beds.
Find out more information on the Manx Blue Carbon Project here.