As we hit the halfway mark in the LIFE Recreation ReMEDIES Project, which aims to restore eight hectares of lost seagrass meadows, we thought we would take a look back at what happened in the project so far…
July 2020 – Planting of the first seeds in our seagrass cultivation laboratory
We filled our seagrass cultivation laboratory with a test batch of around 60,000 seeds. There was a germination rate of around 25%, resulting in around 15,000 Zostera marina plants remaining. This was an important milestone, as the laboratory is being used throughout the project to cultivate up to 360,000 plants a year that will be used to help restore lost seagrass meadows.
August 2020 – Collection of 700,000 seagrass seeds
Seed collection involves collecting the seed-bearing reproductive shoots. Each reproductive shoot consists of approximately 40 seeds, so 17,500 shoots needed to be collected to reach our target of 700,000 seeds. Divers hand picked each shoot, leaving the base and rhizome (root) of the plant, ensuring that the bed remained intact. All the precious seeds were transported back to our seagrass laboratory at the National Marine Aquarium.
April 2021 – Seagrass planting began in Plymouth Sound
A total of 16,000 seagrass seed bags and 2,200 seedling bags were planted in Plymouth Sound National Marine Park. All the seagrass seeds were bagged at our Aquarium, the National Marine Aquarium, by hundreds of lovely volunteers, and the seedlings were grown in the Aquarium’s special seagrass laboratory.
August 2021 – Collection of seagrass seeds
We were joined by Project Baseline UK scuba divers to collect more than half a million seeds from healthy seagrass meadows around Osborne Bay, Yarmouth and Bouldnor in the Solent, for replanting in parts of the Solent where seagrass has been lost or damaged. We did further seed collection dives in Looe and Falmouth, for replanting in Plymouth Sound. All the seeds were stored and cared for in our cultivation laboratory at the National Marine Aquarium until they were
November 2021 – Winter seagrass planting in Plymouth Sound
We were joined by fantastic volunteers from across the city to help with the packing of 10,000 bags of seagrass seeds that we then planted underwater in Plymouth Sound. For this round of planting we trialled an alternative method of growing seagrass seeds into seedlings using hessian ‘pillows.’ These biodegradable pillows were stuffed with seeds and grown in our Aquarium’s lab before being transferred to the seabed. The pillows break down naturally over time leaving only the plant behind.
March 2022 – Seagrass planting underway in the Solent
A total of 20,000 seagrass seed bags were packed by hundreds of volunteers and planted into the seabed just west of the Beaulieu River Estuary, in the Solent. A whole hectare of seagrass was planted, that’s the size of a football pitch!