is a saltwater flowering plant. Like plants and seaweeds, eelgrass
photosynthesizes contributing oxygen to the air we breathe.
It is among the most productive marine habitats and is important
in numerous ways.
means taking care of something. This project is about taking
care of eelgrass.
Why is eelgrass important?
provides habitat for numerous invertebrates such as crabs,
sea stars, clams, snails, anenomes, and tiny crustaceans. There
are two times as many species present in an eelgrass bed than
on bare sand! Many fish spend a portion of their life cycle
in eelgrass meadows. These include juvenile salmon, adult herring,
pipe fish, stickleback and many more. Eelgrass meadows are
important spawning grounds for herring, who in turn are prey
for adult salmon.
taylori on eelgrass (photo by Terra McMullen)
eighty percent of the worlds population lives on the
ocean. As a result, most people live in areas where eelgrass
thrives, in calm bays and estuaries. Agriculture, forestry,
and dredging for commercial and residential development have
all lead to the loss of eelgrass meadows. In addition, boat
activity and shellfish harvesting can destroy eelgrass. Docks
poses a great threat to eelgrass survival.
Human activity has lead to declines in seagrasses (including eelgrass) around
the world. Documented losses have occurred in Chesapeake Bay, US, in the
Mediterranean and along the Atlantic coast of Europe. Just south of the B.C.
coast, in Puget Sound, eelgrass beds have declined by a staggering 70 percent.
can be a water quality indicator - which is useful in areas
with high pollution.
disease, caused by the slime mold Labyrinthula sp.,
has been shown to cause devastating effects on eelgrass beds.
CAN YOU HELP?
is a very delicate plant so avoid stomping over the plants
as much as possible when walking in an eelgrass bed.
you're in a boat and in an eelgrass bed, turn off your motor
if possible to avoid chopping up he blades of the plant.
not pollute the beaches and water.
other people in your area aware of eelgrass as a critical
Puget Sound Shorelines Eelgrass Page
Port Townsend Marine Science Center Eelgrass Page
Seagrass Conservation Working Group
Friends of Semiahmoo Bay Society