What is Seagrass?
- Seagrasses are not seaweeds but flowering plants related to land grasses that can live fully immersed in seawater.
- They are found in a few shallow sheltered bays and estuaries around our coasts.
- They have long grass-like leaves that can be over a metre (3 feet) in length and form vast dense green meadows under the sea.
- Because they grow in the shallows close to the shore they are very vulnerable to damage by human activities.
Why is it important?
- Seagrass beds are home to hundreds of marine animals and plants.
- Many fish and shellfish that end up on our plates breed in the seagrass beds.
- Young fish and animals live and grow amongst the seagrass where the dense leaves provide protection from strong currents and predators.
- This abundance of life provides a rich food source for larger fish and diving birds like grebes.
- Seagrass also helps the environment and improves water quality by filtering out pollutants, producing oxygen and absorbing carbon dioxide. It traps sand and silt making the water clearer and protecting the shoreline from erosion.
Seagrass beds are now quite rare, once they covered large areas around our coasts but they suffered a severe decline in the 1930s due to a 'wasting disease', unfortunately their recovery from this has been very poor. Because of their importance to marine life and coastal processes and their vulnerability seagrass beds are considered of national importance.
Torbay's seagrass beds are at the following locations:
- Elberry Cove to Broadsands Beach - 239.6 acres (120 football pitches)
- Brixham Breakwater - 5.5 acres (2.75 football pitches)
- Fishcombe Cove - 2.2 acres (just over the size of a football pitch)
- Torre Abbey - 677 acres (338 football pitches)
- Millstones - 24 acres (12 football pitches)
For further information, visit the Wild Planet Trust web page -