With three species of seagrass on the endangered list, and a further 14% facing an elevated risk of extinction, now is the time to act. The variety of habitats along its western and southern coasts is often soft sands in shallow subtropical waters, ideal for these plants. Adult Pink Snapper also use the seagrass meadows to hunt for food. In contrast to seaweeds, usually found on rocks, seagrass colonises sandy ocean beds to form dense stands and meadows. The range extends to the temperate regions of the Southern Ocean. ), they also bring stability to the ocean floor with their extensive The seagrasses of Western Australia are the most diverse of any region in the world, 26 species in 11 genera are currently described. Australia has approximately 51,000 km2 of seagrass meadows in shallow subtidal and intertidal environments. "Seagrass meadows have been under constant threat in Australia through coastal development and nutrient runoff since the 1960s. [1] These tropical to temperate waters extend from latitudes 32-34°S to 12°S. Extensive terracing of these expanses of the intertidal zone often result in seagrass high in the intertidal 8. Seagrass meadows store globally significant organic carbon (C org) stocks which, if disturbed, can lead to CO 2 emissions, contributing to climate change. Western rock lobsters are found as juveniles amongst seagrass, receiving food and shelter until they reach maturity. being exacerbated by human-induced climate change), Disruption by predators in the open ocean or on the reef. unknowingly collaborated across the planet to destroy seagrass habitats, we One hectare of seagrass is estimated to be worth more than $26,000 per year, making seagrass … The area covered by seagrass in Western Australian waters is equivalent to Australia's rainforest.[2]. In their new study published in AoBP, Sinclair et al. Insights and lessons from Australia and New Zealand. In northern Australia, seagrass meadows are important as they provide sheltered refuges and feeding areas for … hurricanes by dissipating wave energy. They produce seeds and pollen and have roots and rhizomes which anchor them in seafloor sand. The main seagrass species of Shark Bay ( Amphibolis antarctica ) is a temperate species found only in Australia. In a time of unpredictable, extreme weather This means that seagrasses literally alter the ecosystem around them for the better, creating a welcoming habitat for marine creatures great and small. (Eds. In recognition of the high ecological value placed on seagrass meadows in Australia and worldwide, significant research and management efforts have focused on restoration projects which accelerate natural regeneration of seagrasses. Berry, S.D. Science meets Art to celebrate seagrass and the local environment with Malgana language and cultural heritage The Wirriya Jalyanu (seagrass) Festival is the culmination of a two year collaboration between seagrass researchers at the University of Western Australia and the Malgana Rangers as Traditional Owners of Gathaagudu (Two waters, Shark Bay). For every $1 invested in coastal restoration projects and restoration jobs, $15 in net economic benefit is created. Some areas of the southern coast provide suitable habitat, such as those at King George Sound and the Archipelago of the Recherche, the warmer water of the Leeuwin Current contributes the diversity of these seagrass communities. The variety of habitats along its western and southern coasts is often soft sands in shallow subtropical waters, ideal for these plants. The seagrass meadows there are some of the largest in the world, and also are one of the most diverse in terms of species. seagrass actually reduces flooding from storm surges and The region contains some of the largest seagrass meadows in the world, and is the most diverse in the number of species. floods and droughts that make water conditions unfavourable (unfortunately, now Intertidal seagrass meadows dominated by H. ovalis and/or H. uninervis are considered preferential sub-tropical feeding meadows, due to the greater nitrogen content of these species (Lanyon, 1991; Mellors, Waycott & Marsh, 2005; Preen, 1998; Sheppard et al., 2010). "Seagrass meadows have been under constant threat in Australia through coastal development and nutrient run off since the 1960s. meadows pump out a staggering amount of oxygen each day (~100,000 litres per Yes, you read that right, 35x more effective! Eutrophication and thermal stress continue to be a major cause of seagrass decline worldwide, but the associated CO 2 emissions remain poorly understood. Every single one of these species – and more – rely on the habitats created by seagrass in one way or another. Eelgrasses (Zostera spp.) Around 40 times more animals inhabit seagrass than in adjacent bare sand. climate change, like, yesterday. Wilson) (Western Australian Museum, Perth). The leaves are also eaten by dugong and other creatures. Unfortunately, seagrasses like Posidonia have become severely threatened by human activities and have been declining at an alarming rate. They are generally found in estuaries and sheltered bays where ocean currents and wave action are not as great. But they are also some of the most negatively impacted by human action. Bradshaw, B.R. Let’s play a quick game: which of the species below does not rely on seagrass? In parts of Australia, restrictions on harvesting sea urchins have been lifted specifically to protect seagrass. This means cleaner, filtered oceans – the natural way. The benefits of seagrasses can also be felt on land, as these plants stabilise sediments and protect our shorelines from erosion. The great diversity of habitat in these coastal regions of Western Australia are occupied by seagrasses, frequently 'engineering' habitat through colonisation of shallow ocean floors. ), though oval paddleweed (Halophila ovalis) and Tasman’s eelgrass (Heterozostera tasmanica) are also common. The seagrass meadows in Western Australia are mainly ribbon weed (Posidonia spp.) The Western Australian coastline, along with its islands, is over 20,000 km long. [2], The four families of Alismatales includes three genera within Hydrocharitaceae, a largely aquatic family of tape grasses, and seven other genera of marine species. Seagrass meadows account for more than 10% of the ocean’s global carbon storage, whilst only covering around 0.1% of the ocean floor. Why so close to divers’ hearts? For more than 6,000 years, seagrass meadows in Australia’s coastal waters have been acting as security vaults for priceless cultural heritage. They provide habitats and nursery grounds for many marine animals, and act as substrate stabilisers. (1990) Seagrass in Shark Bay, Western Australia. Many fish species use seagrass meadows as nursery areas to grow and mature. When this comes into question, so does the future of all life in the ocean. As a global network of torchbearers, together we can save the ocean. Seagrasses attract many species of fish and shellfish, some of which are only found in seagrass meadows. Seagrass meadows are one of the most efficient storers of carbon, but they are not the most efficient. Seagrass is just one promising method of doing so, and one that is undoubtedly close to divers’ hearts. Why? Seagrasses also filter water and produce oxygen. and wireweed (Amphibolis spp. That adds up to roughly Western Australia can claim the largest and most diverse seagrass meadows in the world with an unrivalled 27 species covering an estimated 20,000 square kilometres. The region contains some of the largest seagrass meadows in the world, and is the most diverse in the number of species. hectare! Australian seagrass meadows are some of the most extensive and diverse in the world and are therefore of global importance. As with all life on earth, the ability to safely raise the next generation is critical to species survival. Seagrass meadows are disappearing at an alarming rate, and we’ve already lost an estimated 29% globally in the last century. The Wooramel seagrass bank, the largest in the world, covers 1,000 square kilometers (400 square miles) and stretches 130 kilometers (80 miles) along Shark Bay’s eastern coastline. 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