Seagrasses are the only flowering plants located in the ocean, usually growing in shallow areas close to the shore. Forming in meadows, they are incredibly important, supporting a huge array of species and are considered an ecosystem engineer. Growing a complex and extensive root system allows these plants to stabilize sediment and reduce coastal erosion; they oxygenate sediments and thereby creating the perfect conditions for creatures below the sand; seagrass meadows remove carbon from the atmosphere, storing twice as much co2 than the rainforests; many creatures rely on seagrass for food source and finally, a huge amount of juvenile marine life shelter in the blades using the habitat as their nursery grounds.
Despite playing a fundamental role in providing ecosystem services and supporting a huge amount of species, seagrass beds surrounding Cambodia’s offshore islands are yet to be studied in detail and are currently threatened. Mainly as a result of destructive fishing techniques, reduced water quality due to fertilisers and pesticdes running off land, and increased construction resulting in sedimentation in the water inhibiting seagrass growth by reducing light required for the plants to photosynthesize.
At Kuda Divers our seagrass project focuses around conducting field surveys. We evaluate seagrass distribution, abundance and diversity every other month following the Seagrass Monitoring Network's protocol in order to provide data needed to establish protected areas.