Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall visited Torquay’s historic Torre Abbey on Wednesday 20 July and learnt about Tor Bay’s seagrass mooring buoys which have been installed to help protect extraordinary and endangered seagrass meadows from dropped anchors.
Seagrass is a critically endangered habitat and nine seagrass beds, estimated to be 52 hectares, have been identified in Tor Bay. However seagrass beds have been reducing over the last five years and a key threat is leisure craft causing damage to the beds through anchoring and creating turbulence in the water. In a bid to protect the beds, last year Valeport, Garfield Weston Foundation and Sea-Changers funded Wild Planet Trust to place three advanced mooring system buoys in Fishcombe Bay and establish a team of volunteer divers to monitor the health and abundance of the seagrass beds.
Kirsten Pullen, Wild Planet Trust’s Chief Science Officer said: “We recognise that our local communities are our biggest ally in the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss. To be able to discuss these mooring buoys with Their Royal Highnesses was an absolute pleasure and it is our hope that this will help us to raise awareness about why we all must protect seagrass beds.”
Seagrass is a flowering plant that forms an underwater meadow on the seabed. Seagrass beds support a diverse ecosystem which provide food and shelter for fish and other animals, from tiny invertebrates to marine mammals. They provide a marine nursery and refuge areas for fish, including commercially important plaice. They stabilise the sediment with their roots and absorb nutrients and clean the surrounding seawater, and their greatest power is to store carbon which can help prevent climate change.
Wild Planet Trust is investigating into further collaborations with the Ocean Conservation Trust (based at the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth) to extend the protection of the seagrass beds along the South West coast. For more information about the seagrass mooring buoys visit www.wildplanettrust.org.uk.
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