Eelgrass is an important part of the marine food web. SIMRES works with SeaChange Society in their Salish Sea Nearshore Habitat Recovery Project to restore eelgrass beds around Saturna Island. In September 2019, Saturna Environmental Education Centre (SEEC) students and SIMRES members were led by lead by SeaChange organizers Nikki Wright and Sarah Verstegen to help replant Saturna Beach eelgrass beds.
Eelgrass restoration will take place in Lyall Harbour this coming September 28 – 30, 2020. More volunteers are needed.
Eelgrass forms the base of a highly productive marine food web. It provides foraging areas and shelter to young fish and invertebrates, food for migratory marine birds and spawning surfaces for species like the Pacific herring. By trapping sediment, stabilizing the substrate, and reducing the force of wave energy, eelgrass beds also reduce coastal erosion.
The unique habitat also produces food and oxygen, improves water quality by filtering polluted runoff, absorbs excess nutrients, and stores greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide.
Many people are unaware of the importance that eelgrass plays in the marine environment. Many are similarly aware that there has been a significant degradation of eelgrass, primarily resulting from human activities and impacts including urban development, dredging, pollution, and sediment runoff from upland areas.