Look down, it's algae! It's seaweed! - nope, it’s seagrass!
What is Seagrass?
Seagrasses are a diverse collection of flowering plants. They cover large areas generally referred to as seagrass beds or seagrass meadows. They usually have flattened leaves, elongated or strap-like leaves, as well as an extensive system of roots.
They are the only flowering plant able to live underwater!
Compared to seaweed, which has thousands of different species, seagrasses are relatively few with only 72 discovered species. These species are classified into four major families: Hydrocharitaceae, Cymodoceaceae, Posidoniaceae, Zosteraceae. In Indonesia, there are 13 species of seagrass inhabiting Indonesian coastal waters. Some of these include Cymodocea serrulata, Cymodocea rotundata & Enhalus acoroides.
Seagrass diversity and distribution world map
Source: Global overview: the distribution and status of seagrasses (Spalding, et al., 2003)
Seagrasses live in almost all parts of the world, in salty or brackish water. Seagrasses cover approximately 30,000 km2 of Indonesian archipelago.
Seagrass and Seaweed!
Seagrass and seaweed differ from each other in some ways.
Seagrasses are flowering vascular plants with roots and an internal transport system. Hence, seagrasses are more similar to plants on land as compared to seaweeds.
Seaweed has an "anchor" on its end that keeps it in place and transports nutrients through the body by diffusion.
Seagrasses play an important role in coastal ecosystems as dugong, manatees, sea turtles, and ducks all rely on seagrasses for sustenance. Many other fish and invertebrates, including sea horses, shrimp, and scallops, require seagrass as part of their life cycle. Seagrass serves as a habitat for juvenile fish and shellfish, and also as a place for breeding.
Seagrasses also play an important role in preventing coastal erosion as they have roots that bind sediments together. In addition, seagrasses play an important economic function for many coastal communities as they serve as a habitat for local fisheries.
Seagrass and Climate Change
Did you know?
Seagrasses can absorb carbon dioxide 35 times more efficiently as compared to forests!
Furthermore, even though seagrass only covers 0.2% of the world’s seafloor, it absorbs an astounding 10% of the ocean’s carbon each year.
Moreover, in comparison with mangroves, seagrasses can absorb more carbon dioxide per hectare. This makes seagrasses a highly promising solution as a part of blue carbon sequestration!
What CarbonEthics is doing to help
One month baby seagrass
inside our seagrass cultivation research lab
CarbonEthics is working with scientists in sustainable seagrass bed development research. In partnership with Universitas Maritim Raja Ali Haji, a local University in Bintan, CarbonEthics has been working to develop seagrass nursery through experiment in the cultivation method. The result of this research is expected to create a more sustainable seagrass restoration practice.
The seagrass restoration site of this program is planning to launch in Dompak island in early 2022. This newly developed method is more sustainable than the traditional transplant method which can be harmful to surrounding ecosystems.