The Grass is Always Greener: Understanding and Communicating Seagrass Ecosystem Awareness
Global seagrass habitat is declining at a rapid rate from a variety of factors such as coastal development, eutrophication, and climate change. Seagrass meadows provide many important ecosystem services, including protection from storms and carbon sequestration, which makes their disappearance alarming. Limited knowledge of seagrasses and their declining status could be a major factor preventing their conservation and recovery. This project was designed to increase awareness and concern for these vital ecosystems via a three-part approach. First, a survey was conducted to measure the awareness of seagrass ecosystems, the shift in concern with increased knowledge of seagrasses, and the best platforms to utilize for conservation communication. Second, a GIS visual representation was constructed to document the eelgrass habitat change presently occurring in San Diego Bay. Finally, a film was produced to communicate the ecosystem services seagrass meadows provide, and to outline the threats these ecosystems face. The survey results illustrated that even in scientific communities misconceptions about seagrass ecosystems exist, and general knowledge of these ecosystems is lower than one might expect. Surprisingly, GIS data from San Diego Bay illustrates a constant, if not increasing eelgrass area in this urban bay. The recommended plans of action from this report are primarily education and outreach in order to increase awareness of these ecosystems, and inspire management and protection. The recommended platform for the education and outreach is social media posts, as per survey results.