An unsightly nuisance to some, and a favourite food to others. March has become seagrass awareness month in many parts of the world, and on March 1 we celebrate World Seagrass Day.
What is seagrass?
Anything green in the sea could be mistaken as seaweed to the untrained eye, seagrasses are actually flowering plants similar to those found on land. Just like land plants they have roots, stems and leaves. Similar to coral reefs, seagrass beds act like nursery grounds for baby fish, and as a result, the biodiversity is staggering. One hectare of seagrass can support as many as 80,000 fish and 100 million invertebrates. For those of you enamoured by the elusive seahorse, the chance of spotting them amongst the seagrass is might higher! Seagrasses are also the favourite food of the endangered Green Turtle. An adult turtle eats up to two kilograms of it every day.
Why do seagrass beds need conserving?
There is a widespread trend in the Maldives that is destroying this critical ecosystem. Many resorts feel that seagrass and tourism cannot coexist. As a result, seagrass is often actively removed from lagoon areas surrounding resort islands.
Besides seagrass being invaluable ecosystems for marine life. They are also indispensable to our own survival, protecting our infrastructure against storms and wave damage. Seagrass beds slow down currents and wave energy, which in turn reduces beach erosion. Their roots stabilise sediments, hold the sand together, and prevent it from being stirred up by storms.
If you love the beautiful turquoise waters of the lagoons then seagrass is important to you. Water slows down as it passes over seagrass beds, causing any suspended sand particles to sink. Which improves the water quality in the lagoon and makes it crystal clear.
Last but not least, seagrass is vital in the fight against climate change. One hectare of seagrass absorbs 35 times more CO2 than a hectare of pristine Amazon rainforest.
Close to 30% of the world’s seagrass beds have already been lost (World Seagrass Association). To raise awareness of this issue Soneva has joined the #ProtectMaldivesSeagrass campaign taking place in March. We acknowledge the importance of seagrass beds to maintain healthy marine ecosystems. Soneva Jani has pledged to conserve at least 90% of its seagrass (the minimum is 80%), while Soneva Fushi (which doesn’t have natural seagrass beds), has pledged to be an environmental ambassador for the campaign.