There’s now an app for mapping seagrass, the oceans’ great carbon sink

first_imgBiodiversity, Blue Carbon, Climate Change, Coastal Ecosystems, Conservation, Environment, Happy-upbeat Environmental, Mapping, Marine, Marine Biodiversity, Marine Conservation, Marine Ecosystems, Oceans, Seagrass, Sedimentation, Technology, Wildtech A new online tool aims to crowdsource an image and location database of the world’s seagrass, in a bid to shed light on the threatened and fast-receding underwater flowering plants.Anyone with a camera and internet access can upload images of seagrass beds and location info to SeagrassSpotter, available on desktop and mobile apps.Project Seagrass, the group behind the mapping tool, hopes it will help countries that are seagrass hotspots but lacking data, like Indonesia, to improve efforts to conserve these vitally important carbon sinks.Globally, the group hopes to obtain at least 100,000 records by engaging people from all around the world to collect data about seagrass in their locality. All collected data will be made freely available. The launch of an online crowdsourcing database for seagrass hopes to breathe new life into efforts to conserve the underwater flowering plants, which act as both important habitats for marine species and a major store of carbon dioxide.Patchy mapping of seagrass meadows has hampered efforts to protect the plants (which are distinct from seaweed) from threats such as coastal development, sedimentation, coral farming and sand mining, according to Richard Unsworth, a marine biologist at Swansea University in the U.K. and co-founder of environmental charity Project Seagrass.The group on June 4 launched SeagrassSpotter, a collaborative initiative that allows anyone with a camera to upload images of seagrass sightings and tagged locations from anywhere in the world. The online tool also provides species information to help ordinary users identify the seagrass they find. The platform is accessible via website or mobile app for Android and iOS.“We’re asking people visiting the coast or going out to sea — for diving, fishing, kayaking — to keep their eyes out for seagrass so that they can take a picture [to] upload to our website,” Unsworth told Mongabay. “The more people that get involved the more likely we are to develop a better understanding of the world’s seagrass.”Seagrass meadows are often ignored in marine conservation efforts, but they are important ecosystems for marine animals. Image by P. Lindgren/Wikimedia Commons.Seagrasses grow in shallow coastal regions, providing a crucial nursery habitat for young fish of many species. Previous reports suggest that more than 600 species of fish in Southeast Asia alone rely on these meadows for their growth and development. Seagrass beds are also an important home for marine invertebrates, such as sea cucumbers, prawns and crabs.Some seagrass meadows also serve to store large quantities of so-called blue carbon, the carbon dioxide absorbed by the world’s oceans and coastal ecosystems. It’s been estimated that seagrass meadows may be able to store more CO2 in their roots than all the world’s rainforests.The online tool SeagrassSpotter aggregates reported sightings of seagrass ecosystems from around the world to help in the effort to conserve the underwater plants. Image courtesy of SeagrassSpotter. Article published by Basten Gokkon Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? 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I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored The platform also provides information on seagrass species to help with identification. Image courtesy of SeagrassSpotter.Seagrasses are disappearing at rates that rival those of coral reefs and tropical rainforests, losing as much as 7 percent of their area each year, according to the IUCN. More than 70 species of seagrass worldwide cover a global area estimated at up to 600,000 square kilometers (about 232,000 square miles) — an area larger than the island of Madagascar.“We increasingly know how seagrasses support biodiverse fauna but we know little about how to manage them to be resilient into the future and how to restore these systems once they’ve been lost,” Unsworth said.He pointed to Indonesia as an example of a seagrass hotspot, where the dearth of knowledge about the plants could potentially lead to the extinction of these underwater gardens across the archipelago.Indonesia is widely considered an important country for seagrass conservation. In 1994, researchers estimated the country was home to 30,000 square kilometers (11,600 square miles) of seagrass, perhaps the world’s largest concentration of the plant. But in June 2017, the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), a government-funded research agency, put the country’s seagrass cover at just 1,507 square kilometers (582 square miles).“Having worked extensively on seagrass in Indonesia since 2003, I see that seagrass is largely not on the conservation radar,” Unsworth said.“When you visit marine parks and places with seagrass, its conservation is commonly not included or just there as a token inclusion. The focus is always on coral reefs, even though often the majority of the fishing effort is on nearshore shallow seagrass.”At least two studies by researchers in Indonesia have attempted to map seagrass meadows in certain locations, but both noted that nationwide mapping efforts were practically non-existent.A handful of seagrass meadow sightings in Indonesia have been submitted to SeagrassSpotter. Image courtesy of SeagrassSpotter.According to Unsworth, LIPI now runs a seagrass monitoring program, but it’s only on seagrass meadows in marine parks where threats aren’t as prevalent and widespread as in other, unprotected, coastal regions in Indonesia.“Funding for projects by NGOs largely ignores seagrass or when budgets are stretched, they always pull the seagrass component first,” he said. “Having met with fisheries officers, park managers and local government officials over many years, my overwhelming opinion is that seagrass is not considered to be of much importance.”A search of the academic literature on coral reefs versus seagrass in Indonesia reveals that five times as many studies published about the former than the latter in the period between 1970 and 2018, Unsworth said.He also pointed to dataset compiled by the U.N. Environment Programme’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre showing huge gaps where seagrass has been mapped.“The gaps are places where the environmental conditions suggest seagrass should be prevalent,” Unsworth said. “This includes many areas where I personally have observed extensive seagrass, such as Buton, Selayar, Central Sulawesi.”The latest figures from LIPI indicate that only 40 percent of seagrass in Indonesia is considered in healthy condition. Coastal land development, sedimentation, waste pollution, coral aquaculture and sand mining are the top threats to Indonesia’s seagrass.Unsworth and his team of researchers published a report in April that indicates 90 percent of the seagrass meadows they examined in Indonesia had been extensively damaged and degraded over the past five years.“Seagrasses in some parts of Indonesia are very well mapped, but across the nation knowledge is very poor and this comes at an important time given what we know about the losses of seagrass,” he said.Other countries, like Australia, have also reported findings of extensive seagrass meadows in seabeds deeper than 20 meters (66 feet), but “next to no deepwater seagrass has ever been documented in Indonesia,” Unsworth said.“This is probably because no one has ever looked for it,” he said.To date, SeagrassSpotter has collected more than 1,000 records of seagrass around the U.K. and northern Europe. Globally, the group hopes to obtain at least 100,000 records by engaging people from around the world to collect data about seagrass in their locality. All collected data will be freely available to the public.“If people don’t know where seagrass is and why it’s of value,” Unsworth said, “then they won’t take action to preserve it.”Healthy seagrass on the ocean floor. Seagrass provides an important source of income and food for communities around the world, but its importance often goes unnoticed. Image courtesy of Benjamin Jones/Project Seagrass.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.last_img

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