Essex Estuaries – Seagrass
Seagrass is a flowering plant that grows in the sea. It is more closely related to plants on land than to seaweed.
Horizontal roots connect plants together to form a mat on the seafloor.
It forms dense underwater meadows in sheltered coastal areas with gentle currents.
There is around 0.8 kilometers squared of seagrass in the Essex Estuaries Sound and estuaries Special Area of Conservation.
Our seagrass habitats are in decline, due to poor water quality and disturbance.
What does seagrass do for us?
Seagrass takes up carbon for growth and stores large quantities in its roots. It is globally important for its potential to mitigate climate change.
Each year Essex Estuaries seagrass meadows store the amount of carbon produced by return flights from Stansted to Exeter for 1,000 passengers.
Sediment and nutrient removal
Seagrass meadows act as filters trapping sediment, nutrients and pollutants in their root structure and dramatically improving water quality.
Every 2 years Essex Estuaries seagrass removes one Olympic swimming pool’s worth of sediment and excess nutrients from the water.
Seagrass provides a home, place to reproduce and a safe nursery for many species, including some rare and endangered ones.
3 fish species reproduce in Essex Estuaries seagrass.
8 fish species use Essex Estuaries seagrass as a nursery.
Food from wild caught fish
Healthy seagrass supports many commercial species, ensuring a continuing supply of the fish we eat.
40% of wild caught fish species in the Essex Estuaries are associated with seagrass.
Human happiness and wellbeing
Clear, clean seas rich in biodiversity provide greater opportunities for recreational activities and other benefits for people’s happiness and wellbeing.
How can we help seagrass in the Essex Estuaries?
Voluntary no access zone
Seagrass is much more easily damaged when walked on than grass on land.
Avoiding walking, digging and dragging watersports equipment through the seagrass is key to protecting it.
ReMEDIES project information
Reducing and Mitigating Erosion and Disturbance Impacts affecting the Seabed.
The LIFE Recreation ReMEDIES project (LIFE18 NAT/UK/000039) is financially supported by LIFE, a financial instrument of the European Commission.
The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of Natural England and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the European Union.