Monday, February 25, 2008

Seagrasses - not just some wild grasses!

The seagrass bed (wireweed, Amphibolis) at Parker Point Marine Sanctuary, Rottness Island.

I have friends who don't like to have seagrasses where they swim. One told me of his fear that his legs might get tangled up in the seagrasses and then he would be pulled down by the plants ... to the depth of the ocean. And I have friends who don't care about the seagrasses when they snorkel, they just want to look for fishes and corals. Seagrasses are, to them, something in the background, not one of the main actors, like the marine animals.

I like seagrasses or marine plants in general. When I set foot on a beach, I will first look around for dark patches in the water. To me, the presence of marine plants indicates the presence of marine animals. The dark patches are signs of marine life in the waters. Beaches without marine plants but only bare sandy bottom are like deserts to me.

I am not pretending to be anything. But come on, I think people should treat the act of destroying meadows of seagrasses or marine plants as equivalent to deforestation. No, I am serious. When you destroy a seagrass bed, you destroy not just the plants. You would also damage the homes of fishes (including sea horses) and other marine animals. And the homes of other marine plants, like the red algae in the photo below.

Some red algae growing on the wireweed. And if you look carefully, you could see some seven sea trumpeters (Pelsartia humeralis) on the right.

And no, a restored seagrass bed won't be the same as before, just like a regrown forest won't be. If you are interested, this is a BBC webpage about seagrasses.


budak said...

very true. Seagrass meadow productivity is reckoned to match habitats like coral reefs and mangroves, and many commercially-significant species rely on this habitat to grow-out.

see the papers here:

in particular,

There's a seagrass monitoring project based in Australia you might find interesting:

we do it in Singapore too:

Tsun-Thai Chai said...

Hi budak,

Thanks for your comments and information about seagrasswatch. It seems that they are not doing anything in Western Australia or Perth (?)