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Map of the week – Posidonia oceanica distribution (seagrass species)

In the recent article “The Blue Planet effect: the plastics revolution is just the start[1], marine conservationist Fiona Gell explains in The Guardian that the fight against marine plastics has been a global success story. Lessons should be learned from this fruitful campaign to build a momentum on other marine and maritime challenges to get the attention or resources they need.

She gives the example of marine habitats around the British Isles and seagrass meadows, which suffer from degradation and loss. Seagrass are crucial to our existence and a vital part of the marine ecosystem, as they are able to store carbon and as a role in mitigating climate change. They also provide food and habitat for many marine organisms, maintain water quality and have a role as natural coastal defense “structures” protecting our shorelines against storms and storm surges.

Many species of seagrass exist and four are natives of European waters[2]. Some are distributed all over Europe’s coastal waters while others, like the Posidonia oceanica, are strictly Mediterranean. As March was “Seagrass Awareness Month”, we decided to continue to celebrate the essential role of these marine species and their contribution to the biodiversity with a “Map of the week”!

The map presents the distribution of Posidonia oceanica (commonly known as Neptune grass or Mediterranean tapeweed). It forms large underwater meadows that are an important part of the ecosystem. The fruit is free floating and known in Italy as “the olive of the sea” (l'oliva di mare). Balls of fibrous material from its foliage, known as egagropili, wash up to nearby shorelines. See in the map where you can find Posidonia oceanica!

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