Guam's Seagrasses

 

Seagrass- Enhalus Acoroides found in Achang Reef Flat Marine Preserve

Seagrasses are
marine flowering plants that have evolved from land plants into the sea

Similar to plants on land, seagrasses have veins, roots, flowers, and rhizomes (underground horizontal stem) that help them grow and expand their area. 


Seagrasses help keep corals healthy by improving water quality, serving as nursery habitats for young fish, and fighting climate change. Seagrasses in Guam are found mostly around the southern coast and Pago Bay, and a bit along the the southern half of the eastern and western coast.


 

Tips for snorkeling in our seagrasses:


Despite seagrasses being important homes for many animals, they are often overlooked. Seagrasses can be uncomfortable to walk through, and can get damaged by repeated trampling. The best way to experience and protect seagrasses is to snorkel over them, not walk through them. Here are some tips for snorkeling in seagrass:

1.Go during high tide: seagrasses generally live in very shallow water, going during high tide allows you to better swim over the seagrass

2.Observe closely: there are many amazing animals hiding in our seagrasses, however some of them are small and well camouflaged and shy, so go slowly and be sure to also look on the sediment in between the seagrasses and on the seagrass blades themselves.

3. Visit Piti Bomb Holes Marine Preserve: This location is one the easiest places to access to check out some seagrasses: Snorkelers and divers often walk right by the seagrasses on the way to the coral reef. If you choose to explore these seagrasses remember to snorkel instead of walking through them!

 

Why are seagrasses important to our community in Guam?

Seagrasses provide our island community with many benefits, including:



what can I do to help protect seagrasses?


 
Unfortunately, Guam's seagrasses have declined in the past decade by approximately 22% bewteen 2005 and 2015. Here are some simple ways you can help support our seagrasses so they can continue to provide habitat for wildlife and benefits to our coral reefs and community:
 
1. Don't trample seagrasses: repeated trampling of seagrasses can damage them. Walk around or swim through the seagrasses rather than walking through them.
 
2. Reduce pollution: Although seagrasses help protect coral reefs by absorbing pollution, they also have a limit to what they can absorb. You can help by reducing your plastic usage, recycling, and disposing of trash properly. Keeping vegetation and trees on your property will also help absorb water and prevent sediment from running off into the ocean.

3. Support our marine preserves: healthy fish, sea cucumber, and wildlife populations help keep the seagrasses healthy. Follow marine preserve fishing guidelines obtain the necessary permits.



What kind of seagrasses can be found in Guam?

types of seagrass in Guam

What kind of animals live in Guam's seagrasses?

Below are some of the common animals you can find in Guam's seagrasses, however many more types of fish and invertebrates (animals without a spine) can be found such as the seagrass parrotfish, sea slugs, sea urchins, gobies, shrimp, clams, flounder, and wrasses. Some of the animals below are also commonly eaten as seafood, such as the sea cucumber (balate'), juvenile rabbitfish (mañahak), and thumbprint emperorfish (mafute').

Guam seagrass wildlife

 

Want to learn more? Here are some additional resources:


For any questions or more information please feel free to contact Cara Lin at the Guam Department of Agriculture at cara.lin@doag.guam.gov

 
Photos of seagrasses and wildlife courtesy of Brent Tibbatts, Guam Department of Agriculture