According to new research, seagrass meadows play an important role in the life of many juvenile fish, including several commercially important species like pollock and herring. Unfortunately, those meadows are also disappearing at a rate of two soccer fields an hour, according to the study's lead author.
"The rate of loss is equal to that occurring in tropical rainforests and on coral reefs yet it receives a fraction of the attention," lead author Richard Unsworth of Swansea University told the BBC, emphasizing that seagrass ecosystems provide food and shelter to small, but economically important fish.
It’s not all bad news though. Some communities are doing a good job at protecting their shallow seagrass meadows from damage, which can be caused by agricultural runoff and heavy boat traffic.
While humans may be contributing to the loss of these habitats, some scientists are also working on ways that we can build them back up. In a study published in PLOS One, researchers showed that a seeding method using buoys could not only help restore small swaths of seagrass habitats but preserve the genetic diversity of seagrass species as well.