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Seagrass Reporting in Studland Bay

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Published 23:10 on 26 May 2022
Alongside the forthcoming Voluntary No Anchor Zone in Studland Bay, there is to be proper mapping and reporting on the condition and extent of the seagrass in Studland Bay. Please see below arecent press release by Dorset Coast Forum on behalf of the Studland Bay Marine Partnership.

Southampton University Press Release 16 May 2022:

A team of researchers from the University of Southampton have embarked on an exciting new project with organisations from the Studland Bay Marine Partnership including the National Trust and supported by the Dorset Coast Forum (DCF) to assess the extent and health of the seagrass beds in the Studland Bay Marine Conservation Zone, as part of the Southampton Geospatial Initiative and Southampton Marine & Maritime Institute Research Collaboration Stimulus Fund.

Seagrass meadows play a vital role in supporting the ecosystem near Studland Bay. They form a habitat for diverse fish species including sea bass, sea bream, and the iconic Spiny Seahorse and may also play an important role in reducing the impact of coastal erosion within the bay. Seagrasses reduce the energy of waves and tidal currents and trap nutrients and particles of sand that would otherwise get washed away. Even their roots help bind the sediment together making it harder to erode. All these effects contribute to improving the resilience of the sandy beaches of Studland Bay, which attract over 1.5 million visitors each year. In addition to local benefits, seagrasses are also highly effective at capturing and storing carbon within the sediment. Despite occupying less than 0.2% of the world's seafloor, they account for 10% of all the carbon that gets buried in ocean sediments and so are a major asset for mitigating climate change. However, seagrasses are also one of the world's most threatened ecosystems.

Promoting the health and preventing damage to seagrass meadows is an ecologically friendly, nature-based solution for coastal management.The Studland Bay Marine Partnershipinvolves conservation organisations, boat users and local community groups working together to help protect the seagrass by installing 'eco-moorings' within Studland Bay. These are designed to reduce boat anchor damage and so allow the seagrasses and local biodiversity to thrive whilst maintaining the vibrant sailing and recreational activities within the bay. Ten eco-moorings have been deployed so far, with support from Boatfolk and the Seahorse Trust, with plans to eventually install 100 eco-moorings.

The team from the University of Southampton brings together experts from the Schools of Ocean and Earth Science, Geography and Environmental Science and the In Situ and Remote Intelligent Sensing (IRIS) Centre of Excellence. The scientists and engineers will conduct a series of surveys over the summer using state-of-the art monitoring technologies, such as camera equipped robotic submersibles and autonomous boats to map the seagrass and monitor their recovery from past anchor damage. By building a comprehensive picture of the bay and its subtidal habitats, the scientists will be able to better advise on the implementation of nature-based solutions at Studland and identify safe, unvegetated access routes for vessels.

Contact point: Sara Parker, Project Officer Dorset Coast Forum Dorset Coast Forum An independent strategic coastal partnership

E: sara.parker@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk M: 07780148790

Last updated 20:20 on 29 May 2022

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