Happy Headline 1 - New seagrass habitat discovered

Monthly Marine Happy Headlines – April 2023

Welcome to our newest feature, Monthly Marine Happy Headlines!

Each month, we spotlight several marvellous marine discoveries, spreading ocean joy around the globe. From conservation success stories to empowering community action, the discovery of new species, and ground-breaking research articles,  join us for some ocean joy!

Headline 1 – 359 hectares of rich seagrass has been found in St Austell Bay

Reported by the Guardian, one of the largest seagrass beds in the UK has been identified off the south coast of Cornwall.

Seagrasses are one of the most valuable and biodiverse habitats on the planet and are one of the few habitats that provide multiple benefits to the environment. For example, they act as biodiversity ‘hotspots’ – a single hectare of seagrass can support 80,000 fish and 100 million small invertebrates. Seagrass also provides a habitat for rare and endangered species such as seahorses and stalked jellyfish. Seagrass meadows also play a vital role in carbon capture. They are up to 35 times more efficient at absorbing carbon than rainforests of the same area, and despite only covering 0.2% of the ocean floor, seagrasses store 10% of the ocean’s carbon. In addition, they can reduce the indirect effect of coastal erosion, through their capacity to stabilise and maintain sediments on the seabed.

The discovery was made following an acoustic study of St Austell Bay, undertaken through the St Austell Bay blue carbon mapping project, part of the G7 legacy project for nature recovery, which was announced at the world leaders’ summit held in Cornwall in 2021.

Volunteer divers have since recorded over 100 species living in this rich habitat. 

Headline 2 – Scotland pledges to designate 10% of the country’s seas as Highly Protected Marine Areas

The Scottish Government and Scottish Green Party have pledged to rewild it’s seas

Scotland’s seas stretch for over 462,000 km2, an area approximately six times the maritime nation’s land area. Whilst MPAs currently cover 37% of the country’s seas, immense human pressure has continued to degrade the marine environment and its habitats, leaving species in decline. Climate change is considered to be the biggest threat to Scotland’s rich marine diversity, comprised of basking sharks, Atlantic salmon and the critically endangered flapper skate – Europe’s largest species of skate. 

Scotland, like many other nations worldwide is facing the twin crises of climate change and loss of nature biodiversity. According to a Government spokesperson, it is their hope that Highly Protected Marine Areas would allow key species and habitats to restore and recover, benefiting both nature and their economy by making sure there are sustainable levels of fish and other marine products to be derived and benefited from the seas. 

Headline 3 – Scientists Discover Pristine Deep-Sea Coral Reefs in the Galápagos Marine Reserve

Thanks to Galápagos Deep 2023 Team, extensive, ancient deep-sea coral reefs within the Galápagos Marine Reserve (GMR) have been discovered. These are the first of their kind ever to be documented inside the marine protected area (MPA) since it was established in 1998.

The first reef observed was found at 400-600m (1,310-1,970 feet) depth at the summit of a previously unmapped seamount in the central part of the archipelago and supports a breathtaking mix of deep marine life. This new discovery made shows that sheltered deep-water coral communities have likely persisted for centuries in the depths of the GMR, supporting rich, diverse, and potentially unique marine communities.

Headline 4 – Tortoiseshell database a ‘game-changer’ for critically endangered marine turtles

Reported by Australian Geographic, a new database is DNA to connect tortoiseshell products with the geographic origin of the (hawksbill turtles) they came from, in an effort to trace poachers and crack down on illegal trafficking.

There are seven species of sea turtle, six of which can be found in Australian waters. Nearly all species of sea turtle are now classified as endangered, with three of the seven existing species being critically endangered, including the Hawksbill, which is the species most exploited for it’s shell. 

The possession of tortoiseshell products has been illegal in Australia since 1977. But, rules vary among other countries – as such, trafficking still occurs. 

In an attempt to combat this, ShellBank was created. ShellBank is a Global Marine Turtle Genetic Database that can trace sale of a tortoise product to it’s source. In collaboration, WWF Australia recently launched the ‘surrender your shell campaign’, which offered an amnesty of sorts, an opportunity for members of the public to hand in these products, without fear of repercussion. By collecting more data regarding the source of the animals used in these products, it is the hope that conviction rate will increase, as poaching and trafficking becomes increasingly covert.

Headline 5 – Coral Restoration Foundation celebrates $6.9 million funding recommendation

Coral Restoration Foundation™ (CRF™) is excited to share its recommendation for $6.9 million in funding as part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Climate-Ready Coasts Initiative.

If approved, this funding would contribute to the $11 million CRF™ project, “Multi-Site Coral Reef Restoration to Build Resilient Communities in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

This funding recommendation is a significant milestone for CRF™ and our mission to restore coral habitats. The most exciting aspect of this grant is the potential that it has to inject resources into local economies, with our proposed activities focusing on directly supporting the communities that depend on these reefs


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