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#74694 - 10/14/03 03:49 PM Another Reason I Love Turtle Grass
Marty Online   happy
World's seagrasses 'in peril'
By Alex Kirby
BBC News Online environment

Many marine creatures, from seahorses to turtles, are at risk from the rapid destruction of the Earth's seagrasses, according to the United Nations.
It has released the first map of their global distribution, and says 15% of them have gone in the last 10 years.

Seagrasses are flowering plants - not seaweed - that flourish in some of the shallow waters that line our coasts.

They provide an important habitat for a range of other sea life and benefit people by helping to combat erosion.

The World Atlas Of Seagrasses is the work of the UN Environment Programme's World Conservation Monitoring Centre (Unep-WCMC), based in Cambridge, UK.

Long grass

It estimates the area of seagrasses in the world at 177,000 square kilometres, an area about two-thirds the size of the UK.

Flowering plants in seawater
Have ribbon-like, grassy leaves
Live in coastal bays, estuaries
Food and shelter for animals
But this is likely to be an underestimate, because there have been no surveys of seagrasses off the western coasts of Africa and Latin America.
The 60 or so species of seagrass, which grow in large meadows in both tropical and temperate seas, are extremely varied.

They range in length from the 2-3-centimetre leaves of sea vines in deep water off Brazil to the strands of eelgrass that grow to more than four metres in the Sea of Japan.

The meadows are home to fish, manatees, dugongs and green turtles, and provide a good habitat for many other plants.

Little known

They also protect coral reefs by binding sediments, and help to clean the water and protect the coasts from storms.

Yet the authors say the seagrasses are being steadily destroyed by the run-off of nutrients and sediments from human activities on land, and by boating, land reclamation, dredging, and some fishing methods.
Dr Klaus Toepfer, the executive director of Unep, said seagrasses were "a vital marine ecosystem whose importance has largely been overlooked until now".

He said: "The scientists have presented us with a worrying story. In many cases, these vitally important undersea meadows are being needlessly destroyed for short-term gain without a true understanding of their significance."

Help a friend

Ed Green, one of the co-editors of the atlas, said: "There are few places where seagrass meadows are protected. We now know that vast numbers of fish use seagrass for a short but critical part of their lifecycle.

"We are also becoming aware of the role that seagrass plays in the climatic and oceanic carbon cycles and in coastal protection. The true economic value is difficult to measure, but this work suggests it is immense."

Dr Mark Collins, director of Unep-WCMC, said the seagrass beds had been overlooked by conservationists and coastal development planners throughout their range.
He said: "The public can play an important role. By insisting on protection for seahorses, turtles and dugongs they will also safeguard the ecosystem that supports them and has intrinsic benefits that are less obvious."

The UK has seagrass meadows in south-west England, sheltering two rare species of seahorse as well as cuttlefish, crabs and sea bream.

Story from BBC NEWS:

#74695 - 10/14/03 04:48 PM Re: Another Reason I Love Turtle Grass
bywarren Offline
Great article Marty. I have always contended that part of the reason fishing has deteriated over the 35 years that I have observed it around Ambergris Caye is partially due to all of the building on the Caye and the dredging that accompanies it. You cannot remove a basic part of the marine eco-system, the turtle grass or sea grass, and not have an effect. It is the home and shelter for some of the basic creatures in the marine chain.

I have wrote numerous times on this board and in letters to those officials involved about harmfull dredging, but when it come to people wanting their beaches and swim areas, it seems the turtle grass looses every time. frown

Hopefully this will give some of you, and I see many posts about where the nice beaches are, another perspective to consider. This is one more reason why Ambergris Caye should give thought to it's future. Forget the Cancun style beaches and high rises, keep it as best we can the way it was intended by nature. Even from an economic view, keeping what attracted many of us to AC years ago and still does even if to a less extent, will equate to a solid economic future for those of AC in the long run. Think long term. Forget the short term greed. smile

#74696 - 10/14/03 04:58 PM Re: Another Reason I Love Turtle Grass
david1960c Offline
A Place for everything and everything in it's place. Just look at the millions of $ spent to keep up the beaches in the U.S. Do to lack of seagrass. Thanx Marty

#74697 - 10/14/03 05:14 PM Re: Another Reason I Love Turtle Grass
Short Offline
Just my thought!

That's also a reason why the road up North and development there should not be rushed: newcomers think the beach and the sea in front of it should be clean of (sea) grass (and mangrove); this accelerates erosion in such a pace that the damage can become permanent.

Sea grass recovers in about 4-5 years, but the damage has been done by then; the beach may have lost 10 to 20 yards by then. The mangrove only recovers in about 30 to 40 years or may never come back.... and the mangrove is the reason why we have an island!

Live and let live

#74698 - 10/14/03 05:28 PM Re: Another Reason I Love Turtle Grass
Marty Online   happy
when you see the edge of the cut where the grass has been removed, its really sad. the remaining edge shows the layers that are involved with the incredible system that makes this all work, and when you chop it out and remove it, it sure looks brutal. Like looking at the end of a severed limb.

#74699 - 10/14/03 05:58 PM Re: Another Reason I Love Turtle Grass
Barbara K Offline
I used to see lots of baby seahorses snorkeling off the shore in AC. Not anymore due to "cleaning up" the seagrass.

#74700 - 10/14/03 07:59 PM Re: Another Reason I Love Turtle Grass
dbdoberman Offline
Lots of cool things to see snokeling seagrass. I hope the dredging stops, what a price to pay.

#74701 - 10/16/03 11:55 AM Re: Another Reason I Love Turtle Grass
Debbie Offline
Yes, I've read prior posts where some have said the sea grass is "gross", "dirty", and "icky". NOT SO!! It means that the eco system is HEALTHY!!!!!! Be GLAD that Ambergris has sea grass. The more the better! I would much rather have an abundance of sea life to view, than to have the convenience of walking into a swimming area. Big deal. There is something very refreshing about leaping into the sea from a dock. Haven't done that since I was a kid. wink

#74702 - 10/16/03 12:04 PM Re: Another Reason I Love Turtle Grass
Badco Offline
People that think the sea grass is nasty to swim/wade in should stay at a place with a pool~


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