STUDY: Ocean meadows scrub seawater of harmful bacteria
Seagrasses keep waterborne pathogens in check, potentially benefiting people and coral reefs.
Seagrass meadows are the most widespread coastal ocean ecosystems in the world. Research now finds that these plants can reduce the load of disease-causing bacteria such as Enterococcus in the surrounding seawater by up to 50%. What’s more, coral reefs also show a 50% reduction in disease when seagrasses live nearby.
The meadows act as nurseries that shelter young animals, and provide permanent homes for creatures including fish, crabs and shrimp. The plants are also superstars when it comes to carbon sequestration. Now findings published 16 February in Science1 add a health-care component to the long list of ecosystem services that seagrasses provide.