Islands Doing ‘Fantastic Job’ Of Protecting Our Seagrass Beds

seagrassThe islands are doing a fantastic job protecting our internationally important seagrass beds.

That’s the view of scientist Dr Jim Bull from Swansea University.

He was here last week leading a team of seven volunteers from Sussex University, Natural England and the Wildlife Trust making the annual survey of our underwater meadows.

Jim says Scilly is very special because it’s the largest seagrass bed in England and Wales and provides important data for their research into this fascinating species.

It’s the only flowering marine plant and acts as a huge nursery for sea life including commercial fish like cod and plaice.

The survey has been running almost every year since 1992, which allows a detailed picture of the health of the marine environment to be built up.

The scientists measure the number of new seagrass shoots, as well as other plants competing for the space.

They’re also keeping an eye out for a fungus-like wasting disease that ravaged seagrass beds across the Atlantic in the 1930s.

Jim says it’s always been here at a very low level and isn’t causing any concern, but needs monitoring.

He says our fields should get a clean bill of health although they did take a battering during the harsh winter storms.

And this year’s record warm sea temperatures around the southwest could encourage more growth, although it will take a couple of years to see that, says Jim.

He believes the low levels of agriculture in the islands and the lack of heavy boat traffic is the secret to the success of the species here.

The data will be analysed over the summer and reported back to Natural England. Jim says the team are also hoping to publish their results internationally.