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Seagrass Restoration

Seawilding is pioneering Scotland’s first community-led seagrass restoration at Loch Craignish. Funded by Nature Scotland and The Crown Estate, in 2021 we planted ¼ hectare of seagrass and in 2022 we plan a further ½ hectare. Our partners are Project Seagrass and the Scottish Association for Marine Sciences (SAMS).

Loch Craignish has ten small seagrass meadows totalling approximately 1 hectare, and while these seem dense and healthy, they are isolated and fragmented. Yet, our extensive surveys in the Loch, suggest there’s around 80 hectares of seabed ripe for restoration.

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This dark area

is a seagrass

meadow

Seagrass, Zoster marina, also known as common eelgrass, is an essential keystone species which sequesters carbon while providing a vital habitat and spawning ground for fish and other marine species. Yet these biodiversity hot-spots have disappeared around the UK owing to dredging, pollution and disease, and globally 92% of seagrass has now gone. In the fight against climate change, restoring seagrass is now a top-priority.

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Images: Will Goudy, Alasdair O'Dell

Feather Star

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Over fifty species of fish have been recorded in one meadow along with hundreds of species of invertebrates such as molluscs, shrimp and marine worms. By providing a 3-dimensional structure in an otherwise barren marine landscape, seagrass provides a vital marine habitat.

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The areas selected for restoration are alongside existing meadows which are either inter-tidal or in very shallow water where there is no risk of dredging, fishing, or anchoring. We employ a methodology successfully pioneered by Project Seagrass in Wales: seagrass is gathered by hand, the seed is extracted and then placed in small hessian bags tethered to the seabed where it germinates.  We are developing best-practice, low-cost methodologies and producing a “how-to” practical guide to help other coastal communities do the same.

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Videos by Philip Price/Seawilding. 

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"I've lived by the Loch all my life and I never knew how magical the seagrass was." Antonia, August 2021