Celebrating the hidden meadows of the Bay
Published: 27th Feb 2019Living Coasts is marking a day dedicated to a vital local wildlife habitat that few people have ever seen.
Torbay’s coastal zoo is highlighting World Seagrass Day on March 1st. Seagrass is a flowering plant that forms dense underwater meadows in shallow, sheltered, coastal areas. Like coral reefs and rainforests, these underwater gardens are full of life. And like those better-known habitats, they are under threat.
Global estimates suggest the planet loses an area of seagrass around the same size as two football pitches every hour. Protecting what is left is vital – and that’s where Living Coasts comes in. Curator Clare Rugg explained:
“People wonder why seagrass is important to Torbay when they can’t even see it – but not everything that’s worth protecting is obvious. For several years we worked with the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth on the Community Seagrass Initiative. Living Coasts is now leading the project - this is local people working to save a local habitat with international significance.”
Dr Tracey Hamston, UK Conservation Officer for the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust, the charity behind Living Coasts, added: “Our role in UK seagrass conservation ranges from awareness-raising to underwater surveys, research into ways of growing seagrass in aquariums, care for local seagrass beds and partnerships with people who use the Bay – promoting things like seagrass-friendly moorings for boats.”
World Seagrass Day is being promoted on social media using the hashtag #WorldSeagrassDay. Seagrass meadows are home to many marine species and also help support local communities. In addition, they capture and secure carbon at a rate greater than that of our tropical forests.