Sky Ocean Rescue, WWF and Swansea University have marked a major milestone in the biggest seagrass restoration project ever undertaken in the UK – planting over 750,000 seagrass seeds in Dale Bay in Pembrokeshire.
Seagrass Ocean Rescue aims to restore 20,000 m2 of the marine plant, following the disappearance of up to 92% of the UK’s seagrass in the last century. The huge decline has been caused by pollution, coastal development and damage from boat propellers and chain moorings.
Seagrass is a flowering marine plant that captures carbon from the environment up to 35 times faster than tropical rainforests, making it a key weapon in the battle against climate change. It often grows in large underwater meadows, which absorb carbon and release oxygen. Globally, it is estimated that it accounts for 10% of annual ocean carbon storage, despite occupying only 0.2% of the seafloor.
Once it matures, the seagrass meadow could support 160,000 fish and 200 million invertebrates. There is between 30 and 40 times more sea life found in seagrass, than a patch of seafloor that doesn’t have vegetationWhen ecosystems are protected and restored, they can ensure biodiversity, continue to support human life, while also lessening the climate risks. Seagrass can be our hero in the fight against the climate and nature crisis. Not only does it directly absorb carbon but it creates a valuable underwater ecosystem of marine life. This ecosystem will in turn provide valuable services from providing food to helping regulate climate.
The planting, which follows the collection of seeds from existing meadows around the British Isles last summer, will continue later this year - with over a million seeds due to be planted in total in 2020.