With marine habitat loss widespread, problems of climate change and pollution increasing, and an increasing tide of plastic we need to rapidly change the course for our beleaguered oceans. To turn the tide of despair we need to find solutions that bring a sense of optimism for the future of our blue planet. An army of marine conservation volunteers can create a formidable part of such solutions. This is the desire of developing a new global marine conservation project SeagrassSpotter.org.
To celebrate World Oceans Day the Welsh marine conservation charity Project Seagrass are releasing the global version of their Citizen Science project www.SeagrassSpotter.org . This is a website and phone app that allows ordinary people from all around the world to help us understand and conserve globally important seagrass meadows. The new global version of SeagrassSpotter.org also includes the first global easy to use identification guide for seagrasses. Simply put, a user can take photo of intertidal seagrass using the app, or upload a picture taken with any camera direct to the website. The user will then be asked to identify and describe what they’ve seen. This information is critical for understanding the health of these systems around the world.
Understanding where seagrass is and mapping its distribution is an important part of conserving it and preventing its loss. To date the world has mapped around 300000Km2 of seagrass, but experts have speculated that there could be up to 4millionkm2 of seagrass. Research this week has confirmed the value of these meadows in supporting world fisheries production and the need to put more effort into their conservation. There is no easier way for people around the world to help protect seagrass than by getting involved with the collection of information about this precious resource.
Dr Jean-Luc Solandt from the established charity Marine Conservation Society stated his support for SeagrassSpotter “MCS recognises the vital role seagrass plays for the health of coastal marine ecosystems, bony fish, molluscs, crustaceans, sharks and other species. The 'seagrass spotter' tool helps raise ocean awareness on this - a day when we all think of the sea. Our Seasearch divers will no doubt be using it!”
To date SeagrassSpotter has collected over 1000 records of seagrass around the UK and northern Europe, but at Project Seagrass we now hope to make this success global. We hope to obtain at least 100000 records by engaging people from all around the world to collect data about seagrass in their locality.
For more information checkout our project website www.SeagrassSpotter.org