Seagrass meadows, also known as seagrass beds, provide a variety of key ecological services. These include nutrient cycling, sediment stabilization, sheltering small animals, and storing large amounts of carbon dioxide. When seagrass plants die and are replaced by new shoots and leaves, the dead material accumulates on the seafloor, along with other organic material. If left untouched, these deposits can store carbon in the seafloor for thousands of years.
Shipping and other human interactions pose threats to seagrass beds on a global scale: as ships churn up the soil, clouding the water, too little light reaches the plants and photosynthesis is disrupted. Other threats are aquaculture, invasive species, disease, sediment and nutrient runoff, algal blooms, and global warming. Anchoring and commercial fishing practices like trawl nets can cause seagrasses to be torn from the bottom.
This gif was designed to raise awareness for human interactions with this important ecosystem.
Sources: Orth, Robert et al., “A Global Crisis for Seagrass Ecosystems”, BioScience, vol. 56, issue. 12, (2006).