Marianas Variety

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    Tuesday, September 25, 2018-8:11:43P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Reef Tips | Seashells and Seagrass Resilience

Seagrass grows only if it is fully submerged and pollinates underwater from the help of currents and tiny crustaceans. Seagrass beds are also 35 times more efficient at storing carbon than rainforests.

Up until here, you might have only thought that seagrass is like the weed in our lawn, useless and obscuring ... well, you are wrong. Seagrass is absolutely necessary and amazing creatures in our ecosystem.

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As a Coral Reef Initiative Intern this summer, I was a part of an astounding project with a passionate mentor, Dr. Lyza Johnston, the Bureau of Environmental Coastal Quality (BECQ) Technical Advisor, testing and monitoring seagrass resilience around the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). Through the project, I have learned the importance of seagrass beds to our marine ecosystem, the meticulous procedures to survey benthic invertebrate like seashells that affect seagrass resilience, and the importance of studying and preserving our sea resources.

Seagrass resilience is important to our environment because it stabilizes the sea bottom, provides food and habitat for marine organisms, maintains water quality, and supports local economies. The process to test seagrass resilience is meticulous: analyzing spatial relationships to connected ecosystems like coral reefs and mangroves, finding functionally important species like bioturbators in samples, monitoring climate and water quality, searching seagrass species and genetic diversity, and checking for energy reserves.

In the project, I have measured depths of the sediment and assisted collecting sediment cores using a stratified random sampling method from the seagrass patches around Saipan using swimming gears, the GPS, and waterproof data sheets to collect samples. In the office, I have used microscopes, sample tubes, scalpels, and catalogs to identify and taken pictures of the invertebrates. Then I have organized the list using Excel to record the organisms to the lowest taxonomic level.

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One interesting organism I learned closely in the project was the lucinid bivalve, a type of saltwater clam commonly found around the low tide marks in Saipan. The bivalve is a clear example how the lucinid bivalve density affects carbon fixing and habitat enrichment of the sediments. These elements are a factor that promotes seagrass resilience, which affects the health of our seagrass patches.

Seagrass beds are an important part of our environment because it produces carbon, oxygen, and habitat for marine organisms. Testing seagrass resilience is significant because it shows the marine well-being and durability of our natural habitat. More importantly, seagrass is a micro-universe of our ecosystem, a sophisticated, complex, and organic system of life. https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn28373-seagrass-gardens-are-needed-to-cap-the-carbon-bomb-in-the-oceans/

Oscar Pizarro (et. al.)’s scientific article, “A Simple, Fast, and Repeatable Survey Method for Underwater Visual 3D Benthic Mapping and Monitoring”, detailedly explains techniques and procedure to monitor the resilience of seagrass beds. Pizarro (et. al.) backs his claim with precise descriptions of the method, process, and materials needed while pointing out the effectiveness and personal tips to the method. Pizarro’s purpose is to found a stable procedure that is simple, speedy, consistent, and accurate. Given the professional language used in the article, Pizarro is writing to a well-educated audience with solid knowledge of seagrass mapping and history and a willingness to innovative thinking. https://ocean.si.edu/ocean-life/plants-algae/seagrass-and-seagrass-beds

Pamela L. Reynolds describes the life of an average seagrass in his “Seagrass and Seagrass Beds”. Reynolds informs a rather informed but general public audience with detailed facts about seagrass beds. She asserts about seagrass biodiversity, ecosystem benefits, growth and reproduction, and conservation by emphasizing his accuracy of the facts and the validity of her reviewers.