Help save our seagrass - and seahorses - plea

Divers in sea and seagrass meadows in Tor Bay

A diver at the seagrass meadows in Tor Bay - Credit: Wild Planet Trust

Experts are calling for the local community and boat users to take action to protect Tor Bay’s seagrass and the species, such as long-snouted seahorse, that live within it.  

World Seagrass Day on Monday (March 1) 2021) was marked by the Wild Planet Trust as a day to focus attention on the importance of Tor Bay’s vulnerable seagrass meadows and how crucial it is to work together on a #SaveOurSeagrass campaign.  

Seagrass is a remarkable plant as it is able to lock in CO2 more efficiently than rainforests. Seagrass meadows, such as those in Tor Bay, are a crucial part of the marine eco-system, protecting shores and helping to combat climate change.  

Wild Planet Trust has been monitoring the local seagrass meadows as part of the campaign since 2017.  

A recent survey, conducted in October 2020, indicated the seagrass may have benefited from a quieter period of marine traffic due to the pandemic.  

But the charity is concerned that the fragile seagrass is threatened by pollution and by indiscriminate anchoring. 

Although the seagrass areas in Tor Bay are voluntary no anchoring zones, Wild Planet Trust is actively looking to encourage water enthusiasts and boat users to respect the seagrass by not anchoring at the known seagrass locations and use permitted moorings. 

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“Anchoring in the wrong place damages the seagrass and threatens the wildlife that live amongst it” said Dr Tracey Hamston, Conservation Officer at Wild Planets Trust. 

“We are very excited about the prospect of introducing new eco-moorings hopefully this summer, if funding is approved. These new environmentally friendly moorings will allow boat users to moor up, whilst protecting the seagrass below and allowing the seagrass currently damaged by traditional anchorage methods to recover. The protection these moorings provide is also welcomed by local people who enjoy diving and snorkelling among this beautiful habitat.” 

Global estimates suggest the planet loses an area of seagrass the same size as two football pitches every hour. Pollution is a major threat to seagrass and the charity is appealing to the public to help prevent litter and pollution. 

The #SaveOurSeagrass campaign is supported by Totnes-based underwater measuring instrument manufacturer, Valeport, who for the last year has helped to secure the project’s future as well as providing instruments and expertise to the programme. 

The main Seagrass meadows in Tor Bay are located in: Fishcombe/Churston Cove; Elberry cove/Broadsands; Torre Abbey, Millstones/Beacon cove, Hope Cove and an area off Breakwater Beach.