Protecting Canada’s Hidden “Meadows of the Sea”

Collaborative research is uncovering the secrets of coastal seagrass beds to help keep them healthy

Sarah Joy Bittick 
Canadian Geographic
Published: October 30, 2019

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People Benefit From Seagrass Meadows

All people living on the coasts of Canada have a close relationship with seagrasses, even if it’s not immediately apparent […] Besides their role as habitat for important food fish, seagrass meadows protect our coasts from high-energy waves from the ocean. This protection is especially important during storms; without it, our coastal towns and cities would not exist. Large seagrass meadows also absorb carbon through photosynthesis and store it in their tissues, which can help slow climate change. We certainly owe a lot to these meadows of the sea.

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The Marine Side: By Kristina Boerder

Low tide on Sleepy Head

Marine biologist Dr. Kristina Boerder explains that Eastern Shore marine ecosystems and salt marshes are providing “important ecosystem services” that benefit humans and nature.

  • Protection from coastal erosion
  • Providing important habitat for a multitude of species
  • Benefiting local fisheries
  • Acting as important carbon sinks (absorbing & storing carbon dioxide)
  • Providing breeding and nursery habitat for terrestrial, near-shore, and migratory birds
  • Providing “shelter, foraging, and breeding habitat for marine invertebrates, such as shrimp and crabs, and small fish”

I’m a marine biologist working with Dalhousie University and have been doing a little research on the coastal and marine habitats and ecosystems around Owls Head, which might potentially be impacted by any large-scale development on the land. The best data comes from DFO [Department of Fisheries and Oceans] for the proposal for the Eastern Shore marine protected area as well as from some research going on at Dal. Continue reading “The Marine Side: By Kristina Boerder”