Singapore scientists, volunteers monitor seagrass health

The Straits Times 24 Feb 17;

Apart from being a source of food for herbivores, seagrass meadows are nurseries for juvenile animals such as crabs, shrimps and fishes. The structural complexity of seagrasses makes seagrass meadows areas of rich marine biodiversity.

There are a total of 12 species of seagrasses in Singapore, out of 23 in the Indo-Pacific region, and their habitats can be found both on the northern and southern shores of the island.

Animals associated with seagrass habitats include sea stars, seahorses, crabs, sea urchins, sea cucumbers and snails. TeamSeagrass, a group of volunteers, conducts frequent seagrass monitoring at six locations - Chek Jawa, Pulau Semakau, Cyrene Reef, Sentosa, Labrador Beach and Tuas. The information collected is shared with Seagrass-Watch, an international monitoring programme for seagrasses.

Like much of the country's natural heritage, seagrass meadows have been in decline for decades, with around 40 per cent of the original cover lost to coastal development. Since 2007, scientists and volunteers have regularly monitored them for their health.

A three-year research project, which ends in the middle of next year, intends to better understand the dispersal patterns of seagrasses, in addition to assessing how resilient they are in the face of various stressors.

Source: National Parks Board

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