Seagrass Meadows – the Unsung Heroes of the Ocean22 May 2023
The typical view of the Maldives is that of white sandy beaches and crystal clear water, leading to countless shades of blue; the vast swathes of green are usually overlooked – they are the seagrass meadows of the Maldives. Seagrasses are the only underwater flowering plants on the planet, they grow in shallow temperate and tropical waters and, like coral reefs, they host an amazing array of life that is up to thirty times more abundant than in sandy areas and here in the Maldives we are very fortunate to have them on the doorstep.
Seagrass meadows are of global importance as well as being vital to the Maldives. These vibrant green plants prevent beach erosion and help to fight climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide – (despite accounting for less than 0.2% of the world’s oceans, they are responsible for about 15% of total carbon stored in the ocean!). They provide a nursery ground for numerous fish species as well as food for endangered green sea turtles which eat up to 2kg of seagrass per day. It’s no coincidence that the Maldives’ largest community of green sea turtles thrive on the reefs near Kuredu Resort Maldives which has a large, healthy seagrass meadow – 4 hectares of seagrass was found to support a green turtle population of 76 individuals! Despite the many benefits of seagrass meadows, globally, like coral reefs, they are under threat by dredging, trawling, pollution and seagrass removal.
It’s time to turn things around for seagrass, raise its profile and celebrate its beauty and the important role it has in the ocean. Next time you are here with us in the Maldives, jump in for snorkelling and see for yourself this incredible ecosystem in action. Be prepared not only for the mesmerising green grasses swaying in the waves but also the turtles and abundance of fish. Take care not to stand on the seagrass and don’t forget to spread the word about the unsung heroes of the ocean!