It’s a bloody wonderful place to go for a dive or snorkel.
Seagrass, eel grass or Zostera marina, depending on your inclination, has been getting a lot more attention recently and with good cause.
A new focus on “blue carbon” has drawn attention to this wonderful habitat that despite making up just 0.1% of the earth’s surface but may sequester a much as 10% of the organic carbon buried in the oceans each year.
Obviously protecting existing areas of seagrass and restoring degraded areas is a key step in maximising the potential of seagrass to fight climate change and Minister for State for Heritage Malcolm Noonan has said that it will be one of the habitats that will be included in the list of species and habitats that will receive protection under the upcoming Marine Protected Area legislation.
But we’ll leave the climate and the blue carbon to the experts and focus on why Seasearchers love it so much, it’s a bloody wonderful place to go for a dive or snorkel.
When divers think of seagrass meadows we don’t think of blue carbon and climate, we think scuttling crabs, darting wrasse, clinging anemones, hermit crabs and topshells. And that’s not forgetting the wonderful stalked jellyfish that you’re likely to see there. It’s a real summer dive as you can’t move quickly and a lot of time is just spent hovering over the bed slowly swimming along and all of a sudden you eye starts to pick out more and more details and more life. Juvenile fish and crabs suddenly appear where before there was just sand. Stalked jellyfish wave (and defy ID) from the tips of blades. And always the constant hope that maybe, today will finally be the day a seahorse swims into view.
Seagrass project - Would you like to learn more?
There are currently 142 records of eelgrass on the island of Ireland collected by Seasearch divers, north and south, in the Biodiversity Ireland mapping portal for 2003-2019 with more on the way. While there’s been excellent work so far Seasearch Ireland would like to do more so we’re starting the seagrass project, a broad idea at the moment, looking to collaborate with other groups and researchers working on this habitat and to increase public awareness.
We’re encouraging existing Seasearch recorders to take the time this summer to go out and survey their local seagrass patch, asking divers or snorkelers who aren’t currently recording to sign up for training so they can submit their own recorders and working with Galway Atlantaquaria to highlight this unique and beautiful species.
Get involved in Seagrass Restoration
Seasearch Ireland, Galway Atlantaquaria are seeking interest from the public about joining a seagrass restoration initiative in Galway. If interested, can you click the button below and email Garry at the Aquarium to learn more about what roles are needed for this new project.
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