Seagrass Saviors

Seagrass in your hair? Yuck!?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

The ocean collects a lot of things: shipwrecks, plastic…And harmful bacteria from sewage. These sickening microbes can result in a trip to the hospital…or worse! Where can we find a safe place to play in the water??

Enter Fortunato Ascioti’s team from the University of Palermo in Italy. They looked at two kinds of studies. One of bacteria in oceans worldwide. And another on local hospitalizations. Then, they compiled previous research on what ELSE was in the ocean nearby.

Researchers found TWENTY PERCENT fewer hospitalizations from stomach illnesses near certain SEAGRASS forests.

Seagrass might prevent up to EIGHT MILLION cases of stomach illness per year! That’s nearly TWENTY-FOUR MILLION dollars of public health costs!

Sounds promising! BUT seagrass groves are endangered by climate change. Researchers hope that putting value on the seagrasses’ health benefits will encourage protection.

So next time you’re at the beach and get seagrass in your hair…

Say thank you! And rub your tummy for good luck!

Reference: Ascioti, F. A., Mangano, M. C., Marcianò, C., & Sarà, G. (2022). The sanitation service of seagrasses – Dependencies and implications for the estimation of avoided costs. Ecosystem Services, 54, 101418.