Seagrasses: A powerful climate solution below the ocean’s surface

While the effects of climate change and increasing human influence have accelerated seagrass loss over the past few decades, it is nothing new.

On Virginia’s east coast in August 1933, a once-vast eelgrass meadow was devastated by a powerful storm following a bout of wasting disease and overfishing of bay scallops. (Eelgrass is a type of seagrass.) Coastal seasides have been free of eelgrass for decades, says one scientist The Nature Conservancy Wolgenau Virginia Coastal Preservealthough some remain on the part of the coast surrounded by the Chesapeake Bay.

Dr Lusk, who grew up in the area, heard tales of lush green eelgrass carpets from his grandmother as a child, and he remembers the coast teeming with life—until they were gone. But then, in 1997, there were reports of sightings of eelgrass off the coast, likely seeds that had drifted south from Maryland and settled in a hospitable Virginia community.

After several years of experiments, Robert J. Orth, a scientist Virginia Institute of Marine Sciencehave devised a highly successful method of seagrass restoration similar to those used around the world: In the spring, scientists and hundreds of volunteers collect seeds, which they count and process in the summer, and plant in the sediment in the fall middle.

Since 2003, when restoration efforts were Wolgenau Virginia Coastal Preserve From the beginning, scientists and others have sown about 600 acres of seeds, and seagrass now covers 10,000 acres, according to Dr. Lusk. Later this year, The Nature Conservancy hopes to sell the first verified seagrass blue carbon credits based on the restoration work, said Jill Bieri, director of the conservation area.

However, the success of the Virginia project is difficult to replicate worldwide. “You can’t do that anywhere,” Dr. Lasker said. “If The Nature Conservancy hadn’t started this land conservation effort 50 years ago, buying up parts of the coast to protect it, we probably wouldn’t have the water quality we have now, and it wouldn’t have been as successful.”

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