Seagrass is one of the most productive ecosystems in the world, but seagrass meadows around the UK have declined by 95% in the last 100 years. Work is taking place across the Solent to restore this precious habitat, and your help is needed here in Chichester Harbour! Read on to find out how you can help save our seagrass and be a seagrass superhero with some citizen science…
Why is Seagrass so Special?
- A single hectare of seagrass can support 80,000 fish and 100 million small invertebrates.
- FISH NURSERY
- Young species like sea bass and other ecologically and commercially important species shelter and grow in seagrass meadows.
- CARBON AND CLIMATE CHANGE
- Covering just 0.1-0.2% of the seabed, seagrass accounts for 10-15% of the ocean’s carbon storage. Seagrass is up to 35% better than tropical rainforests at removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere!
- BRENT GEESE FOOD
- Seagrass is food for internationally important populations of birds that spend their winters in Chichester Harbour, like brent geese.
- COASTAL DEFENCE
- Seagrass helps mitigate the impact of more extreme weather and sea-level rise while improving water quality and stabilising the seabed.
Rayner Piper is a Marine Biologist from Fathom Ecology. He has secured funding for an experimental seagrass restoration project within Chichester Harbour. Next spring, he will plant seagrass seeds in a trial site, comparing four different methods to find out the best way of restoring seagrass meadows.
As well as injecting the seed directly into the mud, Rayner is looking at feeding seagrass to wildfowl and then collecting their poo (containing seagrass seeds) to plant next spring!
This is not as crazy as it sounds – research in Australia found that seagrass seeds that had been through the digestive systems of turtles and dugong germinated significantly faster.
How can you help?
Rayner needs seagrass seed, which means he needs seagrass! At this time of year, seagrass naturally dies back, and the recent stormy weather is leaving it washed up on the strand line. That’s where you come in….
We need you to be a citizen scientist. No white coats or PhD needed for this project though….
- Take a walk along the shoreline.
- Look closely at the strand line (high water mark).
- If you sea some seagrass, pick it up!
- Put it in one of the special blue seagrass bins!
Rayner will then harvest the seeds from the seagrass to be planted next year.
The seagrass bins are located at Emsworth Yacht Harbour and Prinsted Bay, near the Scout Hut.
Between now and Monday 13 November.
BUT WHAT EXACTLY?
This is seagrass – it is soft and looks a lot like grass clippings
Watch this short film where Rayner explains the project…
(Note – the seagrass bins were previously located at the Harbour Office, Itchenor and Emsworth Sailing Club – they’ve now moved to Emsworth Yacht Harbour and Prinsted.)