Eelgrass Is Essential to Ocean Health

Marine plant plays vital role in supporting fish, wildlife, coastal communities

Eelgrass is an essential part of a healthy ecosystem that supports a variety of wildlife, including the marbled godwit.
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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

  1. Protects coastlines
    Eelgrass helps stabilize the shore in addition to furnishing habitat for a variety of marine wildlife.
  2. Mitigates climate change
    Eelgrass absorbs carbon dioxide and methane -- climate-warming greenhouse gases -- and stores them in its root stsyem.
  3. Nurtures fish
    Eelgrass beds provide shelter and foraging areas for rockfish, salmon and Dungeness crabs.
  4. Feeds birds
    Migratory waterfowl, including the Pacific black brant, eat eelgrass.
  5. Improves water quality and clarity
    Elgrass beds absorb pollutants and help prevent harmful algal blooms.
  6. Strengthens the coastal economy
    Eelgrass supports fish and shellfish that are integral to the commercial and recreational fishing industries.


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