**This blog was written by Jesi Bautista, one of our 2015 summer interns, based on her mini-case study with Jocelyn Emia
This summer I was very fortunate to return home to Guam and intern with the Guam Community Coral Reef Monitoring Program. I was able to learn about Guam’s marine life, while working closely Jocelyn Emia guided by Marybelle Quinata, program coordinator, and Val Brown, science coordinator. We decided to complete a minicase study on seagrass habitat, which are found threatened all over the island due to exposure during extreme low tides. Our goal was to create a baseline that could lead to continued seagrass monitoring and study the various impacts threatening the health of seagrass.
So why should we save our seagrass? Seagrass play several fundamental roles in the marine ecosystem. They provide a place for habitat, nursery, feeding, and refuge from predators for juvenile fish. They also have long rhizomes and root systems that reduce erosion and stabilize sediments during rough conditions. Seagrass is a primary producer that converts sunlight and carbon dioxide into sugar and oxygen, which increases dissolved oxygen (DO) in the water. Many marine organisms, such as fish, crab, and oysters, need sufficient levels of DO to survive. Seagrass also improves water clarity by trapping fine sediment and particles, causing less movement of sediment on the bottom which often cause the water to look cloudy (Tsuda, R. 2009)
My favorite part of the internship was becoming more aware about what was taking place in the marine ecosystem. I realized that most of the threats to the health of marine life is due to human impacts. Guam is the most populated island in Micronesia (around 170,000) with an increasing and booming tourism industry. The increase in coastal development from tourism and infrastructure to support a growing population leads to nutrient pollution, fertilizer runoff, and sewage waste. Snorkeling, fishing, diving, jetskiing, and off-roading also have an impact on the reefs and seagrass communities.
As Sylvia Earle, a marine biologist, oceanographer, explorer, and author stated, “Our past, our present, and whatever remains of our future, absolutely depend on what we do now.” Jocelyn and I hope that our minicase study on seagrass can be a baseline for future projects. We also hope that we brought some awareness to the community and that the data we have collected will encourage others to find a potential solution to save our seagrass. See our mini-case study presentation here.