step on seagrasses!
are delicate. Just like land plants, if we step on the same spot
all the time, it will be come 'botak' (bald). Do you remember
this happening on a school field where the boys play soccer every
day? How about a short cut in a field near your home?
- Thick layers
of seagrasses may conceal uneven surfaces, or hidden objects that
might hurt you (e.g., broken glass) or trip you.
- Many small
animals hide among seagrasses. You will squash them if you step
Seagrasses are like the land plants that we are familiar with. They
have leaves, stems, roots. They also have flowers and fruits!
Not all seagrasses look like the land grasses we are familiar with.
Some of them have different kinds of leaves.
are important to the ecosystem
many different kinds of seagrasses can you see around you?
Describe their shapes, colours, patterns.
can find the biggest seagrass? The longest? The smallest?
take a closer look at a washed up clump of seagrasses
See the veins on the leaves, see the roots. What other lifeforms
can be find on this clump? Animals? Tiny algae?
meadows provide food:
- While not
many animals can digest living seagrasses, can you guess
one animal that CAN eat seagrasses? On land what would
eat grass? Yes, a cow. So what would eat SEAgrass? Yes, a SEA
cow! Let's see if we can find a dugong feeding trail? Sea
turtles also eat seagrasses.
you find any seagrass leaves that look like they've been nibbled
upon? Let's guess what animals could have eaten it.
few animals can digest seagrasses, the meadows provide food in
different ways. Many different kinds of seaweeds are found on
seagrasses. These are eaten by many different animals such as
slugs, snails, fishes. Let's see what kinds of seaweeds
we can find growing among or on the seagrasses? What animals
are eating these seaweeds?
meadows provide shelter:
- The seagrass
leaves provide hiding places for many animals. These are usually
well camouflaged among the leaves. Let's see if we can find
some of these animals?
- Many animals
also lay their eggs on seagrass leaves.
Let's see if we can find some?
- The mat of
roots provide firm ground for small burrowing animals.
chain: These small animals are in turn eaten by bigger animals.
Some of them swim in from deeper waters at high tide and we don't
see them now at low tide.
Eat or Not?" While we can't eat seagrasses, the fruits
of the Tape seagrass is edible and is eaten by native people in
- In some places,
seagrasses are made into useful objects such as rugs and even
are important nurseries for our seafood. What are YOUR favourite
seafood? Let's see if we can find them here in this seagrass patch?
- Be gentle
when you look!
shrimps, baby fishes find food and shelter in our seagrass
meadows. When they grow up, some may move into deeper waters
where they are caught by fishermen. So to get good fishing,
it's important to have good seagrass meadows.
myths to dispel
meadows are NOT rubbishy. They provide shelter and food
to a wide variety of animals, many of which are among our favourite
seafood. These animals are part of the food chain in ecosystems
nearby. They stabilise sediments and keep the water clear for
coral reefs to develop nearby. And the stabilised area allows
mangroves to eventually grow there. Without seagrasses, other
coastal ecosystems nearby can be severely affected.
- If we had
to build a system to do all the things that seagrasses do for
us for free, it would cost a lot of money. "The average value
of seagrasses for their nutrient cycling services and the raw
product they provide has been estimated at US$19,000 per hectare
per year (1994). This value would be significantly greater if
the other services of seagrasses were included." from Seagrass-Watch
Don't step on the seagrasses
If you HAVE to walk through a stretch of thick seagrasses, go
first and carefully test the ground before putting your weight
on your foot. Ask the visitors to follow in your footsteps.
Tell them to keep to a single file to minimise the damage to
Don't dig or rip! To give visitors a closer look at seagrasses,
use pieces of seagrasses that are already broken off or washed
up on the shore. Don't rip up living seagrasses that are still
rooted to the ground.
Be gentle: Remind visitors to be gentle when looking
at seagrasses. Small animals may be hiding among them. Delicate
eggs may have been laid upon them.
Don't eat seagrasses or fruits: the water they are in
may be unclean.