90 pct of seagrass damaged in Aegean, Mediterranean seas, study shows
Mediterranean tapeweed, a type of seagrass native to the seas of Aegean and Mediterranean, is facing a risk of extinction as the rate of the seagrass damaged by the anchoring of yachts has reached some 90 percent, a new study by an environmental organization has shown.
To protect the seagrass, the Mediterranean Conservation Society (AKD) started a new Project named “Restoration of Marine Ecosystem on Southwestern Coasts” at the beginning of March in coordination with the country’s Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change Ministry.
Within the scope of the project, surveillance stations have been installed at the borders of Mediterranean tapeweed in the sea bed.
Iron cages have been placed on some seagrass to prevent the yachts’ anchors from crushing them.
“There are three types of seagrass in the Mediterranean basin. But the most important of them is the one named ‘Posidonia Oceanica,’ which exists along the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts,” Çağdaş Yaşar, the speaker of AKD, told İhlas News Agency on March 30, while evaluating the first results of the survey.
According to the speaker, the seagrass is widely-spread in the sea bed of the southwestern province of Muğla. “We detected seagrass living in an 8,000-hectare area in the sea bed of the province’s districts of Bodrum, Datça and Marmaris, as well as the gulfs of Gökova and Fethiye.
“Unfortunately, the number of the seagrass is decreasing day by day due to ghost nets, solid waste and invasive moss, but especially the anchoring of the yachts,” he reminded.
When asked why seagrass is so important for the marine ecosystem, the expert said, “Mediterranean tapeweed, which lives for 30 years in a depth of 30 to 35 meters, is the richest for carbon capture and storage among all other plants.”
“This species keep carbon in roots and does not let it out. This helps halt the speed of climate change,” he added.
One other threat to seagrass is the summer house vacationers cutting or removing them saying that it bothers them while swimming in the waters.
“We need Mediterranean tapeweed in waters more than we need forests on earth,” he added.
Researchers will pen the first report about the survey on seagrass in Turkish waters next year.
The AKD was founded in the western province of İzmir in 2012 as a nationwide non-profit organization. The group focuses primarily on endangered species, such as the Mediterranean monk seal and the sandbar shark and on monitoring and restoration of the marine ecosystems in which they live.