Meadows Under the Sea

Seagrass community in the Solomons

The only flowering plant that can live underwater are appropriately called seagrasses. This means that even flowering and pollination occur under the waves. Most species have distinct male and female individuals. But they can reproduce vegetatively and can form large meadows.

Seagrass community in the SolomonsThese meadows in the Solomon Islands, are grazed by dugongs and green turtles. They form a habitat for a myriad of small fish, prawns and other invertebrates. Worldwide seagrass communities are important nursery grounds for fish. They are typically found in shallow sheltered sandy or muddy areas. They can be monospecific or have a range of different sea grass species. The depth at which they grow is usually controlled by the amount of light available for photosynthesis. They survive in the intertidal zone and will survive short periods of drying out, thought they flourish better where there is permanent sea water.

Seagrass community in the Solomons

"Tropical seagrasses are important in their interactions with mangroves and coral reefs. All these systems exert a stabilizing effect on the environment, resulting in important physical and biological support for the other communities.

Barrier reefs protect coastlines, and the lagoon formed between the reef and the mainland is protected from waves, allowing mangrove and seagrass communities to develop. Seagrasses trap sediment and slow water movement, causing suspended sediment to fall out. This trapping of sediment benefits coral by reducing sediment loads in the water.

Mangroves trap sediment from the land, reducing the chance of seagrasses and corals being smothered. Sediment banks accumulated by seagrasses may eventually form substrate that can be colonized by mangroves. All three communities trap and hold nutrients from being dispersed and lost into the surrounding oceanic waters."(This text taken from Seagrass Watch)

These still frames are taken from NHNZ Images movie which is available for purchase in your production.