Students from the University of Plymouth have led new research showing that seagrass beds in Looe Bay, on the South Cornwall coast, are among the largest such habitats in the whole of Devon and Cornwall.
Seagrass habitats are found across the UK and play an essential role in fighting increased atmospheric carbon emissions.
Looe’s large seagrass bed – which the research shows is up to 10 times larger than those in Plymouth, Falmouth and Torbay – performs an important role in the fight against climate change and, as such, requires continual monitoring to allow us to understand changes in the bed’s size and health.
Developing that understanding has been the key aim of a partnership between the Looe Marine Conservation Group (Looe MCG), Cornwall Wildlife Trust and the University. The partnership's research has revealed that the seagrass beds of Looe Bay cover approximately 1.1 km² of seabed, stretching from Hannafore in the West to Millendreath in the East, and offering shelter to a diverse range of ecologically important marine animals and plants.
These include cuttlefish and stalked jellyfish, the latter being one of the reasons a 52 km² Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) was designated in 2013. The MCZ designation also requires that the seagrass beds are maintained in ‘favourable condition’, enabling them to function as an essential nursery ground for commercial fish species and helping to store carbon, a vital component in tackling the climate crisis.