Nearly everybody has walked on grass. But did you know that grass grows underwater too? Seagrass is an underwater plant that grows near ocean coasts. In fact, colossal amounts of seagrass surround all of the continents except Antarctica. This greenery improves the health of oceans and is a safe place for young fish, flowers, pollen, and even seeds to thrive.
Seagrass attracts fish like salmon that lay their eggs in seagrass meadows. Killer whales eat salmon and often search seagrass meadows for the fish. Although it is heartbreaking, this makes it easy for allows tourists to see, track and take pictures of killer whales.
The plants that inhabit seagrass serve as a fertilizer remover for the oceans. They also remove other pollutants that can cause algae blooms. Seagrass kill pathogens, which is a word for germs, and help keep the ocean safe for humans.
Recently, for example, a group of scientists from Cornell University went on a scuba diving trip in Indonesia. While inspecting coral reefs for infections, they decided not to go near the seagrass. All of the scientists then got a nasty sickness called amoebic dysentery. This event inspired them and others to study the disease-fighting power of seagrass.
One strategy the scientists used to study seagrass was to collect water from the ocean, put the samples into petri dishes that contained a gel that bacteria love to eat, and wait to see if bacteria grew on the dishes. They took samples from two different parts of the ocean, from one area near and one far away from seagrass. The scientists found that there was much less bacteria in the water close to the seagrass. This means the water there is safer to be in, for sea creatures and humans alike.
Other strategies scientist used to study seagrass included looking for DNA from harmful microorganisms in the oceans and look for harmed coral near seagrass. This study, like the first, is cleaner near seagrass.
Unfortunately, pollution and global warming are killing seagrass. One-third of the world's seagrass meadows have already died. If seagrass continues to die, the aquatic animals living in it will also die. This will then release more carbon into the atmosphere. Although limited, there is still time to save seagrass and its sea-residents. Something must be done to protect this greenery and to stop pollution and climate change.
[Source: The New York Times]