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About the Seagrass Meadows


Scuba divers in Northern Germany are extracting seagrass shoots to replant in barren areas, aiming to combat climate change and revive these ocean carbon sinks.


GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Seagrass Meadows
  2. Concern: Decline of Seagrass Habitats
  3. Seagrasses in India
  4. Restoration Efforts

About Seagrass Meadows:

  • Seagrass meadows are underwater carpets formed by flowering plants thriving in shallow coastal waters.
  • They require sunlight for photosynthesis and grow in sandy or muddy substrates.
Significance of Seagrass Meadows:
  • Carbon Sequestration: Despite covering only 0.1% of the ocean floor, they are efficient carbon sinks, storing up to 18% of oceanic carbon, aiding in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating global warming.
  • Water Quality Improvement: Seagrass meadows filter pollutants, trap sediments, and prevent erosion, leading to improved water clarity and quality, benefiting marine life and human activities like fishing, tourism, and recreation.
  • Biodiversity and Habitat: These ecosystems support a wide range of marine animals, including fish, turtles, dugongs, crabs, and seahorses, serving as essential habitats and food sources.
  • Coastal Protection: Acting as natural barriers, they protect coastlines from erosion caused by waves and tidal currents.

Concern: Decline of Seagrass Habitats

Report Findings:

  • The “Out of the Blue: The Value of Seagrasses to the Environment and to People” report by UNEP highlights that approximately 7% of seagrass habitat is lost globally each year.
  • Over the past century, nearly 30% of seagrass area worldwide has been lost, indicating a significant decline.
Causes of Seagrass Loss:
  • Construction Impact: The development of ports and marinas can lead to the destruction of seagrass habitats or reduce the amount of sunlight available to them, hindering their growth.
  • Runoff Effects: Nutrient, chemical, and sediment runoff from agriculture, industry, and urban areas can cause eutrophication, algal blooms, and turbidity, suffocating or shading seagrass plants.
  • Climate Stressors: Rising sea temperatures, sea level rise, ocean acidification, and extreme weather events can stress or damage seagrass, altering their distribution and growth patterns.

Seagrasses in India:

  • In India, significant seagrass beds are found along the coastlines of the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay regions on the east coast.
  • The west coast hosts seagrass beds in the Gulf of Kachchh region.
  • In addition, seagrass meadows can be found in the lagoons of islands in Lakshadweep in the Arabian Sea and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal.

Restoration Efforts:

  • Seagrass restoration initiatives have been undertaken in various regions globally to conserve and revive seagrass habitats.
  • Notable efforts include restoration projects in the Baltic Sea (Germany), Chesapeake Bay (USA), and the Gulf of Mannar (India).

-Source: The Hindu

March 2024