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First seeds planted at National Marine Aquarium's seagrass laboratory

Scientists at the Ocean Conservation Trust have sown the first seeds in the seagrass growing laboratory at the National Marine Aquarium. The activities at the UK’s largest aquarium are part of a major £2.5 million marine habitat restoration project. The lab, which opened in early June to mark World Oceans Day, has now been filled
Published: August 6, 2020 - 12:35
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 20:37
First seeds planted at National Marine Aquarium’s seagrass laboratory

Scientists at the Ocean Conservation Trust have sown the first seeds in the seagrass growing laboratory at the National Marine Aquarium. The activities at the UK’s largest aquarium are part of a major £2.5 million marine habitat restoration project.

The lab, which opened in early June to mark World Oceans Day, has now been filled with a trial batch of around 60,000 seeds, a hugely important step in the three-year LIFE Recreation ReMEDIES habitat restoration project.

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Seagrass seedlings in the laboratory of the National Marine Aquarium

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“Seagrass meadows are some of the most ecologically important habitats in the UK, supporting our fisheries and helping to prevent coastal erosion, as well as absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, so looking after them is not only in the ocean’s interest, but in ours, too.” – said Mark Parry of the Ocean Conservation Trust

As part of the project, the Ocean Conservation Trust will grow up to 360,000 plants a year in the new laboratory to help restore up to eight hectares of devastated seagrass meadows. The germination rate in the test batch over the next 50 days is expected to be around 25%, resulting in around 15,000 plants remaining on public seagrass display at the National Marine Aquarium until next spring.

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Scientists prepare seagrass seedlings at the National Marine Aquarium

“We are delighted to have reached another important milestone in a hugely significant project to protect and regenerate seagrass meadows in the UK. At the Ocean Conservation Trust we have been studying and working with seagrass for many years, so it’s amazing that we now have the chance to put our knowledge to good use by managing the cultivation and replanting elements of the project.” – explains Parry

If the cultivation process proves successful, there will be three further rounds of planting for which volunteers will be recruited to help sow a total of around 1.8 million seeds. The plants are expected to help restore more than eight hectares of lost seagrass meadows in special protection areas.

“Seagrass meadows have been under increasing threat in recent years due to a combination of factors, including human activity and climate change, so it is important that we take the right steps, not only to protect the ones we still have, but also to regenerate those that have been destroyed.” – Mark Parry added in conclusion

The laboratory at the National Marine Aquarium is now open to visitors, where they have the opportunity to see how the plants are grown and learn more about the importance of seagrass.

As well as restoring vast areas of lost habitat, the LIFE Recreation ReMEDIES project also aims to protect existing seagrass meadows located in Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) around the UK coastline.

Source: National Marine Aquarium

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Marcin Pawełczyk
Marcin’s journey with diving has been an adventure. Starting as a recreational diver, he soon found himself drawn to the fascinating stories and mysteries of Baltic wrecks. After gaining experience, Marcin decided to go beyond just leisurely exploration and took his training up a notch by completing the TMX course, allowing him to explore even deeper and uncover the secrets of inaccessible places. His next challenge has been cave diving, where he is honing his skills to become a certified diver. Not content to simply take in the breathtaking beauty of underwater life, Marcin has also embraced underwater photography since 2018, capturing stunning shots that bring these worlds alive for those who are unable to experience them first-hand. Marcin’s passion for the underwater has taken him far and is sure to continue doing so as he dives into new depths and captures breathtaking images.
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