This project was a collaboration with the Pen Llŷn a’r Sarnau Special Area of Conservation and Pembrokeshire Marine Special Area of Conservation both of whom who have seagrass that is in an unfavourable state. The project facilitated a joined up package of works that is enabling the scaling up of seagrass restoration and enhancement works across these Welsh Natura 2000 Sites and beyond.

Whilst the project was severely disrupted by Covid-19, a number of significant outputs were achieved including:

The construction of the new Project Seagrass Research Vessel – RV Gwenhidw

The construction by Robust Boats of a new Project Seagrass Research Vessel RV Gwenhidw was facilitated by this project (Gwenhidw = Mermaid Queen of Wales). “Gwen” has been out on the water this summer, enabling us to develop our Mechanisation project whilst also providing a perfect working platform for seed collection and deployment activities.

Project Seagrass was created as an environmental charity devoted to the conservation of seagrass ecosystems through education, research and action. Outputs towards these three pillars are described in turn.


RESEARCH:

A Benthic site assessment was conducted in the form of an intertidal survey on seagrass health (Seagrass-Watch) as well as an initial acoustic mapping exercise. The purchase of a BioSonics MX Aquatic Habitat Echosounder enabled us to simultaneously acquire submerged aquatic vegetation, substrate, and bathymetry data using Visual Acquisition software and then subsequently create layered, coloured and contoured maps using Visual Aquatic software. 

Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV) presence, canopy height from bottom, and density is captured by the MX Aquatic Habitat Echosounder.

A drop down camera system is deployed, and locations recorded on a GPS to ground truth benthic habitat type against what was recorded on MX Aquatic Habitat Echosounder

Additional to the remote sensing described above, benthic samples for invertebrates and Blue Carbon cores were collected and frozen for storage. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 restrictions on the use of lab space at Swansea University, and the subsequent summer of fieldwork, the Project Seagrass team have been unable to process these as yet. It is proposed that these will be completed by staff over the winter period when lab access can be obtained.

Invertebrate cores being taken at Gelliswick in the Pembrokeshire Marine Special Area of Conservation.

Blue Carbon cores being taken from the intertidal zone in the Pembrokeshire Marine Special Area of Conservation


EDUCATION:

An Insta360 deployed on an intertidal seagrass meadow in Gelliswick in the Pembrokeshire Marine Special Area of Conservation.

Two 360 degree videos were created by deploying an Insta360 camera as part of the project to provide site context for our work. Further videos will be created when weather permits. These videos were created as resources to support our wider ambition of improving Welsh Ocean Literacy, particularly within the Special Areas of Conservation and with regards to seagrass ecosystems.

You can view these two intertidal videos here:

Pen Llŷn a’r Sarnau Special Area of Conservation – click here.
Pembrokeshire Marine Special Area of Conservation – click here.

In addition to these two videos, you can also view a sub-tidal video created by one of our trustees Jake Davies at Porthdinllaen, in the Pen Llŷn a’r Sarnau Special Area of Conservation here.

Our work in the Pen Llŷn a’r Sarnau Special Area of Conservation was covered for the Wonders of the Celtic Deep TV Series (Series 1: Episode 4, View from 45:44), for the BBC Countryfile (Llŷn Peninsula Episode, View from 10:40) and during the autumn seed planting trial we recorded the Sublime Seagrass episode for 39 Ways to Save the Planet.


ACTION:

10,000 seeds were planted in mooring scars in the October of 2020. In March 2021, a further 5000 seeds were deployed at Porthdinllaen as BoSS Lines trialing different treatments of stored seeds (salinity, temperature and copper sulphate solution).

Bags of Seagrass Seed Lines (BoSS Lines) being deployed at Porthdinllaen in March 2021.