Based in Australia, Seagrass-Watch recruits volunteers around the world to assess and monitor this ocean plant, which is an important indicator of the health of coastal environments. The project has participants at some 259 sites across 17 countries. Working with a local coordinator, participants collect quantitative data on seagrasses and their associated fauna by means of simple, yet scientifically rigorous monitoring techniques. At least one participant at each monitoring event must have passed a Seagrass-Watch training course or have a degree (or similar) in environmental/marine science and be able to demonstrate competency in Seagrass-Watch methods and protocols. The information collected is used to assist the management of coastal environments and to prevent significant areas and species being lost. Seagrasses, the only flowering plants that can live underwater, are the main diet of dugongs and green turtles, and provide a habitat for many, smaller marine animals, some of which, like prawns and fish, are commercially important. They also absorb nutrients from coastal run-off and stabilize sediment, helping to keep the water clear. The Seagrass-Watch program has a simple philosophy of involving those who are concerned, and includes collaboration/partnerships between community, qualified scientists, and data users, such as environment management agencies.
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