Eelgrass is one of the most important plants in the ocean. It cleans the water, nurtures fish, absorbs climate-warming carbon, produces oxygen, and protects the coastline. Healthy eelgrass beds also support salmon, crab, and other wildlife that are important to the economy of many coastal communities.
But this versatile seagrass, found in estuaries, bays, and other shallow nearshore areas, is disappearing because of pollution, dredging, development, sea level rise, and other impacts. Approximately 30 percent of the world’s seagrass has vanished since the 1870s. Globally, we’re now losing an area of eelgrass that would cover two football fields every hour. On the West Coast, eelgrass in California’s Morro Bay has declined by more than 90 percent since 2007.
6 Reasons to Protect Eelgrass
Eelgrass helps stabilize the shore in addition to furnishing habitat for a variety of marine wildlife.
Mitigates climate change
Eelgrass absorbs carbon dioxide and methane -- climate-warming greenhouse gases -- and stores them in its root stsyem.
Eelgrass beds provide shelter and foraging areas for rockfish, salmon and Dungeness crabs.
Migratory waterfowl, including the Pacific black brant, eat eelgrass.
Improves water quality and clarity
Elgrass beds absorb pollutants and help prevent harmful algal blooms.
Strengthens the coastal economy
Eelgrass supports fish and shellfish that are integral to the commercial and recreational fishing industries.