Eelgrass meadows – sometimes called salmon highways – used to thrive in the waters around BC’s south coastal areas but logging practices, land and marine development, as well as increased water pollution have led to a decline. In some places the estimated loss is as high as 65 per cent.
That’s where Nikki Wright and the Seachange Marine Conservation Society come in. With funding support from the Pacific Salmon Foundation, the organization works with communities in the Gulf islands and around the coastline of the Salish Sea to revive depleted eelgrass meadows. They hold workshops where volunteers from coastal communities spend time threading young eelgrass shoots through simple metal washers. The shoots are then taken by scuba divers and anchored in estuaries around the shoreline.
Hand sewing the ocean floor may seem an impossibly daunting task but the results over the last two years tell an impressive story. More than two hundred volunteers have been part of replanting more than 9000 square meters, the size of a few football fields. According to Nikki Wright, the work has the benefit of not only restoring habitat, but also the connections between the water and the world at its shores.
Here are things you can do:
- If you’re a boater, maintain a distance between your propeller and eelgrass beds.
- If you’re a kayaker, prevent travelling the same foot pathways to the shore, which can break down the vegetation.
- Keep in mind that what goes down our drains eventually winds up in a waterway.
- Read more, and find out how you can get involved.
– image courtesy of the Pacific Salmon Foundation