Over the past years, many species have faced extinction due to plenty of reasons. They might be due to the demolishing of their habitats, natural causes such as tsunami, climate-changing or hunting. Seagrass is also one of the many endangered species that we are continuously failing to protect.
What exactly is seagrass and what purpose do they serve?
Seagrass is a type of plant that grows underwater typically on ocean beds. There are at least 60 different kinds of seagrass that have been classified. They have evolved from the terrestrial plants that grew over 100 million years ago. They have been changing since.
They are not just ordinary plants but are part of the food chain for many underwater species such as turtles and dugongs, which are a type of sea mammal. Another very important property they hold is keeping the ocean water clean by constantly absorbing nutrients from coastal run-offs and stabilizing sediments.
What are the reasons to protect the seagrass ecosystems?
Seagrass is not just a major part of animal consumption but they serve a number of properties besides that as well. Seagrass is extremely efficient in producing carbon through photosynthesis. Other than that, they produce seeds that gather on the ocean bed and grow into food sources for many organisms.
The carbon produced by seagrass can be used by birds and marine mammals when they travel on land. If they die or get eaten by something, the carbon transforms into nutrients for the habitats.
Though they are just plants, they serve a number of purposes that are crucial for marine life.
Is the seagrass ecosystem under constant threat?
Seagrass ecosystems were once widely abundant across the ocean beds. They filled up the floor making it appear very vibrant and providing homes for small sea creatures.
Over the years, they have become a highly vulnerable shallow water habitat. They are constantly under threat due to human activities. It has been estimated that 7% of the seagrass ecosystems are lost annually. The speed is increasing at a rapid pace.
In some parts of the world, oceans are continuously being contaminated by chemical and industrial fluids. These chemicals pollute the ocean as well as endanger the life within it. Millions of marine species are wiped out for this reason alone.
Another primary cause for the decline in seagrass ecosystems is the reduction of clarity in the water. The ocean is filled with different kinds of pollutants that are fatal to marine life. The increase in turbidity and the anthropogenic nutrient enrichment of coastal waters is a leading factor in the decline of ecosystems.
Why do humans hunt seagrass?
Seagrass has been used by humans for over 10,00 years. They use it to fertilize fields, insulate houses, weave furniture, thatch roofs, and make bandages. There are plenty of substitutes for such kinds of things but humans like to dig out seagrass for their selfish purposes.
Would the seagrass ecosystem be able to survive the next 100 years?
It would be hard to predict such a thing but the chances of survival are decreasing every year. Human activities alone would be enough to wipe out the entire species of seagrass as well as demolishing the ecosystem. What more is that there is hardly any measure being taken to help the seagrass ecosystems which is why the constant threat is always present.
Not only seagrass itself but a number of other marine species would greatly suffer if it becomes extinct. The nutrients provided by seagrass are also vital components for the balance of ocean life which needs to be taken care of.
How can we conserve the seagrass ecosystems?
We can all play our part in helping to conserve the seagrass ecosystems. A little effort always goes a long way. The first thing we can personally do is to completely abandon the use of seagrass regardless of the reason. Humans need to respect the boundaries of the ocean and this needs to be highlighted.
Other than that, The World Seagrass Association and the government should work together to conserve the species. They need to ban the disposal of industrial wastes into the ocean and should appoint treason for people who violate the rule.
They also need to make sure that the life for seagrass underwater is in good condition. Costal developments should be done in order to maintain the quality of water. Proper funding to converse the wildlife habitats should be considered so that all of the marine species can live in peace.
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