Over the summer time of 2023, volunteers recorded 185 hectares of unmapped seagrass meadows in shallow UK coastal waters, in a brand new annual survey which goals to encourage restoration of the ocean’s solely flowering plant and the wealthy ecosystems it helps.
The Nice Seagrass Survey, the primary of its form within the UK, is a collaboration between Scottish charity, Seawilding and the British Sub Aqua Membership (BSAC). Throughout its inaugural occasion in Might 2023, a crew of volunteers scuba dived, snorkelled and strolled the shoreline, looking for proof of seagrass and logging their outcomes.
Seagrass meadows have been described as probably the most helpful coastal and marine ecosystems on the planet. Regardless of their advantages, seagrass habitats are beneath menace from quite a lot of components. It’s estimated that beds have declined by an estimated 92%. Worldwide, an space of seagrass the dimensions of a soccer pitch (0.8 hectares) is being destroyed each half-hour.Due to the Nice Seagrass Survey volunteers, a complete of 96 beds have been mapped across the nation, from the Outer Hebrides to the Channel Islands. Each of the 2 species of seagrass present in UK waters have been recorded; Zostera noltei which will be discovered on the seashore at low tide and Zostera marina which is present in shallow waters. The biggest space mapped was 78 hectares by the Moray Ocean Neighborhood close to Inverness.
Volunteers have been capable of add their discoveries onto the BSAC web site the place the data was then analysed, collated and shared by Seawilding with nationwide databases making it accessible to scientists and coverage makers.
“The largest shock was how a lot seagrass was discovered. Many of the beds they found aren’t included in official data and will have been undiscovered for hundreds of years so that is ground-breaking stuff. By understanding the place seagrass is, extra will be learnt concerning the threats it’s dealing with in addition to what’s required to preserve it.” mentioned mission organiser Katherine Knight, Science and Survey Officer at Seawilding.
“Seagrass is notoriously arduous to revive as soon as it’s misplaced, so these new beds are extremely helpful for each biodiversity and carbon seize,” mentioned Danny Renton, CEO of Seawilding. “We hope that these patches of endangered and unmapped seagrass – and those that the survey will reveal sooner or later – will be the cornerstone of latest restoration initiatives impressed and pushed by coastal communities.”
Mary Tetley, CEO of BSAC mentioned: “It’s nice that volunteer BSAC scuba divers and snorkellers are serving to to map UK seagrass beds. As custodians of the underwater world BSAC members are properly positioned to help Seawilding and our environmental companions construct up an image of those treasured coastal habitats and assist shield them for the long run. The forthcoming BSAC Underwater Surveyor course will give members an amazing skillset for changing into citizen scientists.”
Seawilding and BSAC’s quest is much from over, there may be rather more on the market ready to be found and the Nice Seagrass Survey shall be going down once more this 12 months. To learn how to get entangled go to: www.seawilding.org/great-seagrass-survey