Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Climate-driven disease devastates seagrass health


This has resulted in starving manatees.




 News Release 13-Dec-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Cornell University


In an oceanic omen for climate change’s intensifying effects, new research shows that seagrass suffers from a lesion-filled wasting disease through large swaths of intertidal meadows in the Pacific Northwest. The grasses’ once-vibrant plant root systems are deteriorating, too.


 Eelgrass (Zostera marina) normally thrives in the San Juan Islands, Washington, on the Salish Sea along the Canadian border. In typical scenarios, Graham describes the seagrass meadow environment as bountiful underwater rainforests, which clean the waters and support herring, salmon, perch, clams, mussels and oysters. Nearby, orca whales feast on Chinook salmon – the largest of the Pacific salmon – which live in these tidal grasslands.

Seagrass wasting disease has been present for years, thanks to the warming waters of climate change, which strengthens the plant’s disease nemesis Labyrinthula zosterae. This paper confirms that below the muddy beds, the plant’s roots are compromised.



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