Seagrass beds along with mangroves form an important habitat that serves as a nursery ground for various species of fish and invertebrates, which move to coral reefs and other ecosystems as they mature. They are also a major source of food for herbivores, such as green turtles, manatees, dugongs, etc., but also for omnivores that feed on invertebrates and other animals that live among plants. Several species of fish that inhabit the coral reefs go to the seagrass beds at night to feed and return to the protection of the reefs during the day. The dense roots found in most seagrass beds and mangroves ensure the sea bottom, thus preventing currents from striking coral reefs with sea dregs and also protecting coastal coasts and communities during Ocean storms. But not only do they have this important task, between seagrass and mangroves they are able to filter out a lot of air pollutants like CO2 and filter them to create a cleaner environment, but they are also actually so good at this that they can filter these pollutants up to 100 times faster than a mainland tree. As the seagrass plants and mangrove leaves die and disintegrate, they are buried, trapping these CO2 residues in the marine sediment. Carbon dioxide stored in the sediments of the coastal ecosystems of mangroves and seagrass is known as “blue carbon” because it is stored in the sea.
Local human activities often damage seagrass beds. Pollution, destructive fishing practices and direct physical disturbances (eg, trawling, pollutant discharges, etc.) threaten seagrass beds around the world and scientists estimate that up to 50% of the total area covered by seagrass beds has been lost in the last decades. The Mangroves suffer from deforestation that is more aggressive than that suffered by the rainforest due to the industrialization of the areas to make shrimp farms or to construct coastal urban development for tourism purposes.
Once again we must start becoming aware of the consequences of current activities and our ways and means of life in order to make the right decisions and try to generate changes in our behaviour and thus prevent the environment from deteriorating further.