Over the past 30 years, 80% of seagrasses along Australia’s coast have been devastated by human development. New research reveals how and when this occurred, also shedding light on how we could prevent it in the future.

The study conducted at Edith Cowan University involved extracting core samples from seagrass meadows at Oyster Harbour, providing detailed insight into the massive loss of seagrass over history.

Lead researcher Dr Oscar Serrano, said the analysis showed “huge increases in phosphorus entering the ecosystem from the 1960s onwards,”

“These increases in nutrients in the marine environment cause algal blooms which soak up the oxygen and light needed by seagrass and other marine organisms to survive

“This kills off seagrass and a host of other species including fish and crustaceans, hampering their capacity to sequester CO2 and mitigate climate change”.

Unfortunately, this damage is not unique to Oyster Harbour, also reflecting damage to marine ecosystems all around Australia’s coast.

Despite the damage to date, Dr Serrano has hope that his research will provide insights to properly manage further environmental change, including from climate change.

“The results from this study demonstrate the power of seagrass cores to show timelines of man made pressures on estuaries and changes in the environment’s condition,”

“This information can then be used to improve the capacity of scientists and environmental managers to understand, predict, and better manage ecological change in estuarine ecosystems” he concluded.

Read more here: Edith Cowan University.