Life in the lab

15 November 2021  /  By Amelia Newman, Seagrass Cultivation Officer

Amelia Newman

Our new seagrass cultivation officer, Amelia Newman based at Ocean Conservation Trust, has just finished preparing the seagrass lab at the National Marine Aquarium ready for the next stage of our restoration work… 

It’s a busy time in the lab as we care for more than 3 million seagrass seeds that will be used in our restoration work. Some of these seeds will be bagged and planted across a half hectare of seabed at Jennycliff Bay, Plymouth Sound at the end of this month. This is the same restoration site we started our planting at back in April. We’ve had a huge number of volunteers offering to help pack the seeds. If you are one of them, thank you! With 10,000 seed bags to pack, we couldn’t do it without you. As soon as the bags are ready, we’ll head out on the barge to deploy them.

Seagrass lab Amelia and hessian pillow

New seedling technique

We’re growing some seeds to seedling on square hessian ‘pillows’ before being transferred to the seabed in spring. These pillows will be stuffed with seeds (some of which have already shown signs of sprouting), then grown on in the lab until they are strong enough to be transferred, still on their biodegradable pillows, to the seabed. This is an alternative method of growing seedlings that we’ve been working on. Unlike growing seedlings in the bags, we can see the shoots coming up, alter light levels in the lab accordingly, and ensure they have everything they need to become strong and healthy.

The rest of the seeds will be used in a further half hectare of planting that we’re leading in Jennycliff Bay in the spring (bringing our total here to two hectares). We’ll use some for our Solent planting in spring too, where we’ll be deploying seed bags across two hectares of seabed. Of course, we’ll need volunteers to pack bags (40,000 bags, in fact!), so keep an eye on our volunteers page where we’ll advertise the opportunity next year.

In the meantime, why not visit our lab at the National Marine Aquarium. You’ll be able to see the bagged seeds and the hessian planting methods from the viewing window.