Quirks & Quarks

Seagrass is vital to marine life and human health

Seagrass meadows remove up to 50% of bacteria that are a hazard to human health.
New research says that seagrasses, marine angiosperms (flowering plants), filter harmful seaborne bacteria. (James St. John)

Seagrass meadows are critical to the health of ecosystems because they provide habitat for countless marine species.  They are found all over the world -- there over 60 species that belong to either the tropical or temperate variety.

A new study by Dr. Drew Harvell at Cornell University has found that seagrasses also reduce bacteria that are pathogenic to humans by as much as 50 percent.  

A seagrass bed in Indonesia (Joleah Lamb)

The study focused on Indonesian seagrass meadows and Harvell determined that reef-building corals found in the proximity of seagrass are much less prone to disease.

The researchers hope that this knowledge will promote the conservation of seagrass, which is diminishing at an annual rate of seven per cent globally, due to marine pollution and coastal development.