Seagrasses are a group of plant species that grow in shallow marine environments.
Seagrass is a flowering plant (just like those on land) unlike seaweed, which is a different type of plant called algae.
There are over 60 species of seagrass, but they are at risk due to sediment runoff, overfishing, pollution and natural disasters. We have already lost 29% of the world’s seagrass habitats!
It’s important that we protect seagrasses because they produce lots of oxygen, stabilise the seabed with their roots, provide food for animals such as dugongs and turtles, and provide habitat and breeding grounds for animals such as fish, crabs and shellfish.
SPOTLIGHT: THE DUGONG
Dugongs (Dugong dugon) are marine mammals that live in tropical and sub-tropical areas where seagrasses are found. They eat up to 30 to 60 kgs of seagrass per day, so it’s no surprise that they can weigh up to 500 kgs!
There are over 700 dugongs that live in Moreton Bay making them the largest population of dugongs that live close to a capital city. In the past dugongs in Moreton Bay were hunted almost to extinction. Although they are now legally protected we can still have damaging effects on them by destroying or polluting their habitat and disturbing them in feeding areas.
Dugongs are very important to Australia’s indigenous peoples, especially to coastal mobs. The word for dugong is different between indigenous groups because there are over 200 dialects! The Quandamooka people call dugong (Zungun), whereas the Guugu Yimithirr people in Far North Queensland call dugongs Girrbithi.